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How much is too much alcohol?

For Filipinos, no celebration is complete without an abundance of food and alcohol drinks. This is clearly evident during the long Holiday season in the country, with Filipinos partying almost weekly until Christmas or New Year’s day.

Experts, however, warn that people should take stock of the harm social bingeing and the occasional or regular alcohol drinking is doing to the body.

During Wednesday’s “Mornings@ANC,” Dr. Allan Dionisio, a toxicologist from The Medical City, explained the vicious cycle of an alcohol abuse.

He said, if one is not careful, a social drinker might eventually find himself regularly craving and increasingly depending on alcohol drinks.

Hampers daily life

“[An] alcoholic says, ‘I have problems, therefore, I drink.’ But the truth of the matter is, ‘I drink, therefore, I have problems.’ You don’t need to have problems [when] you start drinking but later on, if you’re the kind of person who is vulnerable to being eventually dependent on alcohol, you start drinking in an abusive way. You start developing problems,” Dionisio said.

The doctor also belied what most people normally believe – that being an alcoholic means gulping large amount of drinks on a regular basis. Some occasional drinkers can already be considered alcoholics, he pointed out.

According to him, if alcohol drinking, regardless of the amount, usually results in “adverse consequences” and already hampers your everyday life, it is already considered an alcohol abuse.

“By adverse effects, we are talking about your work is affected, your relationships are affected, your wife is angry with you or if your children is angry with you and you still continue drinking alcohol; if, for example, you have a medical condition that you know [would only get] worse but you still take alcohol. All of these are signs and symptoms of at least an alcohol abuser,” he said.

He also pointed to the behavioral pattern. He said some alcoholics will not drink for a long period of time but, eventually, he will fall again into the same destructive pattern.

“There are probably people who can tolerate a lot of alcohol and their lives are fine, but assuming that they’re telling the truth that their lives are fine,” he added.

He also warned that, since alcohol picks up one’s mood and produces a certain kind of euphoria, it “blunts your ability to make judgments about yourself and about what you’re doing.”

He said very often it would take another person for an alcoholic to realize the abuse.

Thin line

Dionisio acknowledged the healthy benefits of alcoholic drinks but he warned of a “thin line” between healthy drinking and drinking with adverse consequences.

Citing some studies, he said a one to two drinks a day for Caucasians is recommended. A drink is defined either a regular size bottle of beer or the regular glass or a shot of hard liquor, he said.

“Now studies have shown that when, for men, when you go beyond three drinks a day then the number of cardiovascular deaths, stroke, heart attacks, they just increase proportionately,” he said.

For Asians who are smaller in body build, the same recommended dose to Caucasians might have greater effects. Dionisio said Asians are also more vulnerable to damage than Europeans and Americans because of their genes.

“You’ve seen Filipinos turn red, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, they turn red, it’s not an allergy. It’s actually an enzyme… that is supposed to help metabolize your alcohol and that enzyme is slower among Asians,” he explained.

Alcohol, he added, is a great source of calorie but it doesn’t have the necessary vitamins and minerals. One also accumulates fats by too much drinking.

“So, what happens is instead of metabolizing fats, you metabolize alcohol instead, which means you start to accumulate fats,” he said, adding:

“I can imagine people who take alcohol and they don’t get fat. One thing for sure, if you get to the point of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, you will lose weight because one of the complications of alcohol abuse is malnutrition.”

Men, he said, are more prone to alcohol abuse than women.

Rehabilitation

For rehabilitation, there are out-patient and in-patient types of treatments available to alcoholics.

Out-patient treatment refers to seeking professional help and joining support groups.

“There are some people who are a danger to themselves, danger to their families and at the same time cannot stop drinking. These are the people who [should] probably [be] in a controlled environment [or] an in-patient rehabilitation center,” he said.

So, the next time you order that bottle of beer, remember the importance of moderate drinking. After all, you might not notice that you already had too much until it is already too late.

source:  ABS-CBN News

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