Many surveys have found that people in the US have increased their intake of alcohol during the pandemic. No alcohol is probably the best on your body, but we all think a little bit in moderation is ok! It’s fun, it helps you relax and loosen up, right? How do you know if you are drinking too much?
You can start by taking this survey. https://forms.myupdox.com/form/84828 It is the USAUDIT survey on alcohol use. Each row on the answers is scored 0-6 with the last 2 questions scored 0-2-4 for those 3 answers. Your score should be 7 or less for men, or 6 or less for women or men aged 65 and older. (If you can’t figure out how to score it, just send me a message on the website and I can help you.)
What can you do if you your score is high? If you have a problem trying to drink less, there are many options open to helping you cut down or quit. If you score 20 or higher, you might need professional help to stop drinking, as quitting on your own can cause very bad side effects, including seizures and death.
Why is it hard to quit or slow down the drinking in some people? There is a genetic link to increased risk of substance abuse. Some people’s brains get chemically “turned on” when alcohol or other drugs are ingested, and pleasure is caused. Your brain actually undergoes physical changes when you become dependent or even addicted to substances like alcohol. If this happens, you can’t just use “willpower” to stop drinking, your brain won’t allow it.
This is the frustrating part of knowing someone who has a dependency issue. They are the same person you always knew and loved, except now their brain is hijacked. They really want to quit, but it isn’t possible unless they can literally change their brain. Sometimes it can happen if they are mentally very strong and join a group like AA. Alcoholics Anonymous really can help keep people sober and overall drinking less over time.
However, not everyone is strong enough to beat back their brain chemistry. We do now have many other medications that can help push the brain back to normal, and you can use that in addition to counselling or AA meetings to help stop drinking. I am well versed in these medications and am here to help. If you think you have a drinking problem, let’s address it so you can get healthy and live your best life! Give us a call at Whole Family Medical Care, we can help.