What Is Moderate Drinking?

Moderation is key to living a healthy life, but that can be hard to do if you don’t know where the line between “normal” and “too much” falls. Fortunately, there are specific and defined drinking levels that can help you determine whether your alcohol consumption habit is normal (or not). In this article, we’ll discuss how much to drink is too much; standard drink sizes; and exactly what is moderate drinking. 

 

The Different Drinking Levels: What Is Moderate Drinking?

Moderate drinking is considered to be two drinks or fewer for men, and one drink or less per day for women. The physiological differences between the genders play an important role in how quickly alcohol is metabolized and how much a body can safely tolerate. However, this is only part of the equation, as there are other factors that can affect how much a person can safely consume. Age, physical fitness, BMI, and weight are just a few factors that can play a critical role in determining a “safe” amount of drinking. 

 

Is Moderate Drinking Good For You?

Studies present conflicting information on whether moderate drinking is necessarily good for you, although it has been linked to having positive benefits such as lowering the risk of stroke and depression. Moreso, the distinction seems to be that moderate drinking is the amount a person can drink without incurring major health risks. Heavy drinking, and even the occasional binge drinking episode, can cause a lot of damage, very quickly. Still, there is no “safe” amount of alcohol consumption, as it is quite literally a toxic compound that the liver works hard to neutralize. 

 

Binge Drinking vs Heavy Drinking

Binge drinking is when an individual drinks a certain amount in a certain period of time. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), this is defined as when a man drinks five or more drinks at the same time (or within the span of a few hours), or in the case for women, four or more drinks. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism includes BAC (blood alcohol concentration) in their definition of binge drinking, which constitutes as drinking that brings the BAC level up to 0.08. 

Heavy drinking is less about the rapid succession of alcohol consumption and more about overall quantity. According to the NIAAA, heavy drinking for males is having 4 or more drinks in a single day or having more than 14 in a single week. For women, it’s 3 or more drinks in a day or 7 throughout the week. SAMSHA, however, defines it as five or more binge drinking sessions within the month. 

 

What’s In Your Cup? Standard Drink Size Definition

The size of a drink isn’t based on the cup that you’re drinking out of or the amount of liquid in it. Instead, drink size is based on the alcoholic content or ABV (alcohol by volume). Since this can vary greatly depending on whether it’s beer, wine, or hard liquor, the type of alcohol is the biggest determinant of what a standard drink is. 

In the United States, a standard drink is one that contains 14 grams of pure alcohol. Based on the average ABV of the respective beverage types, this equates to:

  • 12 ounces of beer (about 5% ABV)
  • 5 ounces of wine (about 12% ABV)
  • 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (about 40% ABV)

The higher the alcoholic content, the smaller the amount that qualifies as “one” drink. Although the exact amount can vary between the types of alcohol, this is still a helpful guide when trying to determine how many drinks you’ve consumed in a sitting. A single Long Island iced tea can contain two ounces of hard liquor in addition to liqueur (which has about 15-30% ABV) which is almost 2 standard drinks. Your standard pitcher of beer is 32 ounces, the equivalent of about 2.7 standard drinks. 

 

The Less You Drink, The Better

Ultimately, the healthiest amount of drinks is zero. While moderate alcohol consumption can minimize the likelihood that you put your health in danger or develop alcoholism, it is merely a guideline. It’s very possible for an individual to consume a “moderate” amount of alcohol but in an unhealthy way that rivals the negative effects of drinking in greater quantities.  

If you’ve found that your alcohol habits would land you in the bingeing or heavy drinker categories, cutting back can provide immediate benefits such as weight loss, improved cognition, and even better sleep. Finding it tough to ease up on drinking? You might have a drinking problem. Learn more about the signs of alcoholism, how it affects you, and what you can do to treat alcohol addiction

 

Sources: 

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/moderate-drinking-and-how-to-keep-it-that-way

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265799#alcohol-levels

How Much Alcohol Is Safe To Drink Daily?

Many people across the globe enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner or whiskey on the rocks for a nightcap. In fact, they may enjoy it so much that it becomes a daily habit. On the other hand, some people drink unhealthy amounts on a daily basis. Individuals that drink habitually are likely struggling with an alcohol use disorder, also known as addiction. All of this begs the question, is there a healthy amount of alcohol consumption, and how much alcohol is safe to drink on a daily basis?

What Happens When You Drink Alcohol Every Day

The risks associated with drinking alcohol every day vary from person to person and case by case. Who is drinking, how much they drink, how often they drink, and why they drink are all factors that can influence the outcome. For instance, someone who drinks heavily is more likely to experience physical side effects. Additionally, the longer someone drinks heavily, the more likely serious health complications are to arise. 

Dangerous Alcohol Consumption

Drinking every day is particularly dangerous when multiple drinks are consumed in a single sitting. People who have preexisting conditions such as liver or heart disease are at a greater risk for developing serious complications from alcohol consumption. Additionally, a family history of alcoholism increases the likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder yourself. Essentially, it is not safe for these individuals to drink alcohol on a daily basis, and drinking in high amounts on a regular basis is never safe. The dangers of alcohol consumption include:

  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Mental health issues
  • Nerve damage
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Seizures
  • Gout
  • Reduced immune function
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Sleep problems

Psychological Significance of Drinking Every Day

Typically, when you ask if something is safe you are asking if it is physically safe. However, alcohol can have physical and psychological impacts. If someone is drinking alcohol every day, the first question to ask is “why?” Do you drink it because you enjoy the taste, do you do it to manage stress and anxiety, or for another reason. The reason for drinking can be a significant indicator of whether it is safe for an individual to drink alcohol or if it is being abused. 

Benefits of Drinking Everyday

Individuals who only have one standard drink per day are much less likely to experience any serious side effects from their alcohol consumption and may even see some benefit from drinking, such as stress relief. Hence, having a drink after a “long day”.

A systemic review, Does Drinking Reduce Stress published by Sayette M. A. (1999) explored stress-response damping (SRD); the idea that alcohol can lessen an individual’s response to stress. The review did cover studies that indicated “drinking can reduce stress in certain people and under certain circumstances”. However, some studies also reported incidents where stress was exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Sayette went on to identify and elaborate on an array of factors that play a role in alcohol’s SRD effects.

Essentially, some people may experience some benefits from drinking one or two alcoholics beverages per day, but not everyone. The potential risks of drinking alcohol every day greatly outweigh the possible benefits and there is no amount of alcohol that can be guaranteed to be safe.

Sources:

Sayette M. A. (1999). Does drinking reduce stress?. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 23(4), 250–255.

Is Alcoholism Genetic?

Alcoholism may not be the preventable and self-inflicted disease we believe it to be–at least, not entirely. Evidence of the hereditary connection to alcoholism is mounting. One finding is that the children of alcoholics are four times more likely to be alcoholics themselves. Numerous adoption studies have shown that rates of alcoholism are more closely tied to their biological parents, rather than the environment of their adoptive families. So is alcoholism genetic? An addiction that can be programmed into our DNA and impossible to override? Not entirely, but behavior and the personal choices individuals make aren’t the sole cause of alcoholism as one might believe.

 

Can Alcohol Alter DNA? 

Shockingly, yes. Addiction is usually looked at through the lens of ‘nature versus nurture’. However, epigenetics is an emerging field of research that is turning that old debate on its head. This relatively new field of study recognizes that environmental factors can cause genes to express themselves abnormally as they would with hereditary disease. These factors include age, environment, stress level, diet, drug use, or exposure to certain chemicals. Other types of alcohol-related epigenetic diseases include fetal alcohol syndrome, liver disease, and liver cancer. 

The repercussion of excessive alcohol consumption does more than change your DNA, however. These gene modifications can cause you to crave alcohol even more, significantly increasing the risk of developing alcoholism (though it’s important to note that addiction is a psychological affliction, one that genes may influence, but cannot cause outright). Further, these changes can be permanent and even passed down to offspring. To a certain extent, alcoholism can be a genetic condition, and individuals who inherit these genes can find themselves predisposed to chronic alcohol abuse. 

 

Genes Related to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a complex and multifaceted disease, that involves hundreds of genes, all of which can be influenced by social and environmental factors. As such, there is no singular “alcoholism gene”. Research is still fairly young in this area, however, scientists have identified several genes that can contribute to the development of this chronic condition.

Alcohol dehydrogenase 1B (ADH1B) and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) are the genes with the strongest ties to alcoholism. These are the genes responsible for the enzymes produced in the liver for alcohol metabolization, and some of their variants are better at processing alcohol than others. The more efficient these enzymes are, the quicker alcohol can be processed out of the body, the lower the chances of systemic toxic buildup and thus, and the lower the risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

Other genes related to alcoholism include: 

GABRA2 & CHRM2 – Associated with the increased EEG-β an inheritable trait and an indication of a parent with excessive alcohol exposure; believed to contribute to increased risk of developing alcohol dependence.

KCNJ6 – Helps to regulate the effects of opioid effects and pain management, as well as addiction.

AUTS2 – Deals with alcohol sensitivity and preference in the brain.

IPO11 & HTR1a – Increased susceptibility to addiction in general.

POMC – Integral part of regulating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), the dysfunction of which has a strong correlation with addictive behavior, particularly with alcohol cravings.

PER2 – Affects the body’s biological clock (circadian rhythms); disruptions of this gene are associated with increased alcohol consumption.

 

Genes Aren’t Everything

Scientists have long debated the relationship between alcoholism and our genes; whether it’s an inheritable part of our DNA or simply a behavior that we unconsciously learn. The truth is that it’s a bit of both. Although alcoholic parents can pass on a genetic predisposition to develop alcohol use disorder, behavior modifications can help us avoid triggering those metaphorical landmines in the first place. Moderation is key, as it is binge or chronic drinking that seems to detonate those detrimental gene expressions. For those already deep in addiction’s grasp, behavioral therapy at an alcohol addiction center can help individuals learn to override their genetic impulses. There is still much hope for an alcoholic even when alcoholism runs in the family.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056340/\

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20191296/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20187847/

Side Effects of Mixing Meloxicam and Alcohol

It’s well known that taking alcohol and painkillers together is a terrible idea, but how dangerous would it be to drink alcohol while taking arthritis medication like Meloxicam? The short answer: It’s very risky. It’s powerful and can cause major heart and gastrointestinal problems that could be life-threatening. Additionally, many of the specific side effects of this medication overlap with those caused by alcohol use. Read on to learn more about the side effects of mixing meloxicam and alcohol, why it reacts badly to alcohol, and how long until you can drink after having taken a dose. 

 

Meloxicam and Alcohol Side Effects

On its own, taking meloxicam exactly as directed can result in the development of deadly heart and stomach issues. Adding alcohol to the mix, however, increases the likelihood of those serious health consequences occurring. 

 

High Blood Pressure

One of the lesser-known side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam, is that itc can cause, or worsen, hypertension. This affects everything from your heart to kidneys and even your eyes. Alcohol is also known to cause acute blood pressure elevation as well (scientists believe this is because alcohol stimulates adrenal glands which result in your heart working harder and pumping more blood more quickly). 

 

Although the effects of alcohol on blood pressure are rapidly reversible and resolve themselves within a few hours of consumption, when paired with meloxicam’s significant half-life, the overlap can be deadly on the body. The resulting cardiovascular stress lays the groundwork for a stroke or heart attack–both of which can be fatal. 

 

Stomach Ulcer

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like these are known to irritate the digestive tract. Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting are fairly common. Far less common (and much more concerning) gastrointestinal side effects are the development of stomach ulcers. These are painful sores on the stomach lining that can interfere with digestion and result in a lot of discomfort. 

 

Heavy drinking can also contribute to the development of a stomach ulcer. Alcohol does so by increasing the amount of stomach acid which can lead to irritation. When alcohol and meloxicam are combined, they not only amplify the likelihood of developing an ulcer but can exacerbate the condition, resulting in the potentially life-threatening complication of a bleeding ulcer. Symptoms of this condition include sticky stools that are black or dark red, bloody vomit, and anemia. 

 

Kidney Problems

NSAIDs can cause two types of acute renal (kidney) injury and can lead to chronic kidney injury or failure. This is because the anti-inflammatory function of NSAIDs can inhibit the production of renal prostaglandins, important lipids that help maintain normal kidney function. With the kidneys producing fewer of them, these tiny bean-shaped organs can have a harder time regulating the balance of salt and water in the body (among other things). This can lead to fluid retention which can cause a domino effect that harms several vital organs and bodily functions in addition to the kidneys themselves. The longer NSAID, or in this case meloxicam, is used the greater these risks. Alcohol compounds these issues by directly interfering with your kidney’s ability to regulate fluid in the body. Alcohol compounds these issues by directly interfering with your kidney’s ability to regulate fluid in the body. 

 

How long to wait to drink alcohol after taking Meloxicam?

The average meloxicam dosage has a half-life of about 20 hours. Since it takes at least five half-lives for a substance to be considered out of your body, it can take up to 5 days for meloxicam to get out of your system. However, since meloxicam is usually prescribed for long-time use, drinking any alcohol at all while taking this medication is ill-advised. Essentially, there is no “safe” time-frame to have alcoholic after taking meloxicam. 

 

If you or someone you know is unwilling or unable to stop drinking while taking an NSAID like meloxicam, they’re putting their health in serious peril. Continuing to drink in light of painful side effects could be demonstrative of an unhealthy drinking compulsion. Learn more about identifying the signs of alcoholism and what to do when you confirm them. 

How Does Alcohol Age You? (Spoiler: It’s Not Pretty)

What do birthdays, teenagers, and alcohol have in common? They can make you feel really, really old. In the case of alcohol, it does so quite literally. How does alcohol age you exactly? In more ways than one. Its dehydrating effects can add years to your face, skin, and body to make you look older than you actually are. Not only that, but it affects you from the inside out, making you feel older as well from your joints to your memory (and everywhere in between). Learn the ugly truth about how alcohol prematurely ages you with these 5 shocking consequences. 

5 Ways Alcohol Makes You Look & Feel Older Than You Are

Wrinkles

One of the most telling signs of age, alcohol plays a major role in causing premature development of fine lines and wrinkles. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating which can cause your otherwise supple skin to be parched and dry. This dryness makes your skin increasingly susceptible to creasing and also makes existing wrinkles more pronounced. 

Dark Undereye Circles

As if looking tired all the time wasn’t enough (alcohol can cause sleeping issues), alcohol can make sure that you look it too. While the dark circles under your eyes are mostly controlled by genetics, alcohol can make the discoloration much more pronounced and contribute to puffiness as well. The cause is once again, alcohol’s dehydrating effects. The drying effect on your skin causes this already thin piece of the epidermis to become even thinner and make the blood vessels underneath the skin more pronounced.

Blotchiness

Charming on Santa Clause, not so much for someone wanting to maintain their youthful appearance. Alcohol can put your heart into overdrive, causing blood pressure to increase and putting pressure on blood vessels. This pressure can cause your skin to flush resulting in perpetually ruddy cheeks. Sometimes these blood vessels can burst, causing a condition called telangiectasia (the culprit of spider veins in the legs) that resembles decades of sun damage. 

Weight Gain

Keeping a trim figure becomes a lot harder as you get older, and drinking can make it even more challenging to keep the lean figure of your youth. Alcohol is a double whammy on your waistline as it slows down your metabolism and is full of weight-gaining sugars. The extra pounds can also make it more difficult to maneuver when doing your usual activities. While gaining a little weight doesn’t automatically make you look older, it can slow you down to make you feel a lot less spry. 

Earlier Likelihood of Degenerative Illnesses

Alcohol kicks off a chain of events that hasten the premature breakdown of your internal bodily functions. The result of which can cause a host of serious diseases well before your time. Diabetes, health attack, liver failure, kidney failure, stroke, dementia…These are just a few major ones that can seriously undercut your overall health. While there are a number of other factors that can affect the onset of these illnesses (diet, genetics, lifestyle), drinking can cause them to occur decades earlier than they otherwise would.

The Unflattering Effects of Alcohol Consumptions

Knowing the extent of how alcohols ages you, it’s a wonder why anyone drinks alcohol at all! A few drinks may seem harmless – or even beneficial – in the moment but they can have long-lasting repercussions that fast track your body’s signs of aging. Heavy drinking and binge drinking put you at the greatest risk of incurring undesirable side effects. To minimize both external and internal alcohol damage, the NIAAA recommends avoiding drinking more than three standard drinks per day and no more than seven total in a given week. If you’re having difficulty cutting back on your drinking, an alcohol rehab center can help before things escalate.

 

Social Drinker vs Problem Drinker: What’s The Difference?

You’re out for a night of fun with friends and your one drink has turned into half a dozen. You don’t normally drink this much, just every once in a while so it’s fine…right? Determining when you should be concerned about your drinking habit can be surprisingly difficult. 

Social Drinker vs Problem Drinker

The line between social drinker vs problem drinker is much narrower than you might think. Plus, most people tend to underestimate how much they drink (both the amount in a single sitting and the frequency in which they indulge) so trying to analyze your own relationship with alcohol can be tricky.

What is a Social Drinker?

A social drinker is considered to be someone who primarily drinks on social occasions and does so in moderation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has defined this threshold based on gender. For women, this means a maximum of 3 drinks in a single day but no more than 7 drinks total during a week. For men, who have greater alcohol tolerance, this threshold is no more than 4 drinks in a given day, with a maximum of 14 drinks in a single week. This type of drinking pattern is considered to be low-risk with a very low likelihood of leading to alcohol addiction. 

These limits sound fairly reasonable, but those aren’t the only set of numbers that determine whether your drinking is high or low risk. It’s important to consider what a standard drink is. Drinking three pitchers of beer during one night is a vastly different amount of alcohol than drinking three cans worth. So when the NIAAA refers to a “drink”, they are referring to both set numbers of drinks and specific amounts per drink.

The Size of a Standard Drink

The size of a standard drink is determined by the alcohol content and is defined as a drink with 14 grams of pure alcohol. Naturally, the stronger the drink, the smaller the standard size will be. Your standard beer is about 5% alcohol. Wine is a bit stronger with an average of 12% alcohol content. Distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, etc.) are some of the strongest with around 40% alcohol content. As such, the standard size of each will be:

  • Beer: 12.5 fluid ounces (the size of the average beer can)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces
  • Spirits: 1.5 fluid ounces

 

Let’s revisit our earlier comparison. Using the standard drink size, a pitcher of beer is typically 32 ounces and the equivalent of slightly less than 3 cans of beer. Drinking three pitches would actually equate to about 8 cans of beer, putting the drinker well beyond the limits of what’s defined as social drinking.

How does your drinking compare when measured using standard drink sizes? 

What is a Problem Drinker?

A problem drinker isn’t an official term or diagnosis. It is often used to describe drinking habits that have caused negative social, behavioral, financial or health consequences to a point where individuals feel the need (or are told) to cut back. Problem drinkers can self-correct whereas genuine alcoholics will find themselves both physically and mentally compelled to continue drinking heavily.

Drinking that falls under this category often falls in the realm of alcohol abuse, although it’s not necessarily always the case. Problematic drinking can include:

  • Binge drinking (drinking enough more than 4-5 drinks in a given day) 
  • Extreme binge drinking (more than 8-10 drinks in a given day)
  • Heavy drinking (binge drinking more than 5 or more days in a 30-day period)

Ultimately, what determines if someone is a problem drinker or not isn’t necessarily the health consequences of their drinking habit. Rather, it is their relationship with alcohol that is the most telling factor. The dysfunctionality of this relationship is primarily what separates problem drinking from alcohol use disorder. 

Is Your Drinking Habit Problematic?

Alcohol consumption is so commonplace that our sense of “moderation” can be seriously skewed towards viewing excessive drinking as normal. Have you’ve found that your drinking habits might be a reason for concern? If so, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a literal addiction to alcohol where your body has developed both physical and psychological dependence. 

One of the clearest signs that you might be an alcoholic is if you’ve tried to stop drinking but felt physically ill after doing so. Those aren’t hangover symptoms. They’re likely a sign of alcohol withdrawal and that you need help managing your drinking habit. Learn more about recognizing alcohol addiction and how to get treatment

Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Failure?

Drinking too much can cause a ton of health issues, one of them being compromised kidney function. Can alcohol cause kidney failure? Yes. This in turn can lead to liver disease or outright liver failure, the results of which can be fatal (how shocking that despite this, people still drink alcohol) Your kidneys play an integral part in your overall health and you cannot live without them. 

What Do Kidneys Do? 

To fully appreciate how important the kidneys are (and why their failure would be devastating to the body) let’s take a closer look at what the kidneys do. The kidneys are two small, bean-shaped organs located just beneath your ribcage. These tiny-but-mighty organs are involved with the urinary tract, hormone excretion, making sure your blood is clean and chemically balanced and removing harmful substances from your body. 

Your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood each day. During this process, toxic compounds are removed while the waters, salts, and minerals that your blood needs to power the rest of your body, are added. This is crucial to maintaining healthy nerves, muscles, and body tissue. Your kidneys also play a direct role in maintaining cardiovascular health as the control center for hormones that regulate blood pressure and the creation of red blood cells.

When the kidney is unable to perform its job, your body fills with fluid and waste products. This buildup can cause a host of other issues from tiredness to swelling of the limbs, to anemia. If this condition persists, the consequences can be fatal.

How Alcohol Damages Kidneys

Binge drinking and chronic alcohol abuse can spell bad news for the kidneys in more ways than one. Directly, alcohol impairs the kidney’s ability to regulate fluid in the body as well as the balance of vitamins and minerals. This imbalance can spark a number of disturbances well beyond the kidney’s normal scope and can result in exhaustion, confusion, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and swollen limbs. 

How does this happen? The presence of alcohol causes kidney cell walls to thicken causing enlargement of the kidney, a condition strongly linked to impaired kidney function. Simultaneously, alcohol directly interferes with the kidney’s release of vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone the instructs the urinary tract to release as infrequently as possible in order to conserve body fluid (and is why alcohol makes you go to the bathroom more frequently than usual). Going to the bathroom more often causes an imbalance of electrolyte concentration – the cause of the majority of symptoms associated with kidney damage.

Types of Kidney Failure

There are two types of kidney failure: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure is when the kidney suddenly loses its ability to function. This can be caused by an injury or other temporary impairment such as an infection or binge drinking. While it has the potential to be life-threatening in the relatively short time-frame that if occurs, this condition can be reversible.  

Chronic kidney failure, on the other, is the gradual deterioration of kidney function. Fluid or waste products accrue in the body over time and build up in the body. Unfortunately, the early stages of chronic disease are subtle and make little detection that there is an issue. By the time chronic kidney disease is detected, kidney function has likely already been significantly impaired. There are five stages of kidney failure, which are breaking up by the percentage of remaining kidney function:

  • Stage 1 – Over 90% of kidney function
  • Stage 2 – Between 89-60% of kidney function
  • Stage 3A – Between 59-45% of kidney function
  • Stage 3B – Between 44-30% of kidney function
  • Stage 4 – Between 29-15% of kidney function
  • Stage 5 – Less than 15% of kidney function

As the stage of kidney failure progresses, the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), the amount of blood the kidneys can filter in 1 minute, decreases as well, contributing to an even more rapid deterioration of symptoms.

Is It Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure?

The difference between kidney disease and kidney failure is the degree to which kidney function is impaired. Kidney failure is considered to be when 90% (or more) of kidney function is lost. A complete loss of kidney failure is called end-stage renal disease or ESRD). The only treatment options available are dialysis, when your blood is run through a machine to be cleaned, or a complete kidney transplant.

Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Failure

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Frequent urination
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of limbs
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain (caused by fluid buildup in the heart)
  • Shortness of breath (caused by fluid buildup in the lungs)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control

 

Sources:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work

What It’s Like Being Married To An Alcoholic

Being married to an alcoholic is hard – and making your marriage work can be even harder. Sometimes referred to as an alcoholic marriage, this unhealthy relationship dynamic takes a tremendous emotional, financial, and physical toll on the spouse as well as the drinker. Not only that, but it often causes irreparable harm to the very relationship itself which is why marriages where someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) have higher rates of divorce. Recognizing the signs that your spouse’s drinking habits have gone too far could save both the marriage and their life. 

10 Struggles of Being Married To An Alcoholic

Alcoholism doesn’t just happen overnight. The process is gradual, so much so that a spouse may not realize that their husband or wife is slowly becoming an alcoholic before their very eyes. Another reason why the development of a drinking problem goes undetected is that the spouse may be an enabler, making excuses for the husband or wife, and is unwilling to recognize the problematic behavior. 

1. They’re struggling at work or having difficulty keeping a job

One of the telltale signs of a drinking disorder is when it impedes crucial daily life such as school or going to work. An alcoholics’ work performance is usually the first to suffer, likely from calling out due to hangovers or being intoxicated during working hours. Once terminated, they may have difficulty finding new places of employment or maintaining a job for more than a few days or weeks at a time which can be a massive blow to household finances. 

2. They shirk family responsibilities

Marriage is a partnership, and things quickly become problematic when you can no longer rely on your partner. Whether it’s managing the household or rearing children, if your spouse is routinely dropping the ball, it’s a clear sign that their priorities have shifted.

3. Personal hygiene has deteriorated

Alcoholism is a disease that affects the body both physically and psychologically. One of the side effects of which include a growing disinterest in anything that isn’t alcohol. The result of which means that your spouse’s personal hygiene routine has suddenly taken an extended hiatus. 

4. They experience rapid mood swings

Alcohol interferes with neurochemicals, the resulting imbalance can result in the formation or aggravation of mental health disorders. Depression and anxiety are common developments in alcoholism and can result in your spouse quickly going between various emotional states.

5. They skip meals

Malnutrition and anemia are commonplace amongst alcoholics, one of the reasons being that they are known to skip meals in lieu of an alcoholic beverage. If your spouse is constantly passing on dinner but has a drink in hand, it could be a sign they’re at the point where alcohol outweighs their basic survival instincts. 

6. Unintentional weight changes

Another consequence of a drinking problem can be fluctuations in weight. If they are frequently skipping meals as mentioned above, you might notice them shedding the pounds seemingly without explanation. Conversely, alcohol use disorders can also cause significant weight gain since alcohol is loaded with carbs and sugars that are difficult for the body to burn. Further, alcohol interferes with the digestive system and can leave them with a slower metabolism that also contributes to weight gain. 

7. They engage in high-risk behavior

A chronic drinking problem can damage the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and rational decision-making. As such, you may notice your husband or wife engaging in increasingly risky behavior that they normally would not. This might look like gambling, illegal activity, or getting into frequent car accidents. However, this can also take the place of mundane behaviors like deciding to skip work or picking fights.

8. They’ve become physically abusive

The World Health Organization has identified drinking as a major factor in domestic violence against a spouse. This can include physical, psychological, or sexual forms of abuse. 

9. They’re abandoned their hobbies 

This is a common behavior of addicts. Over time, their thoughts and financial resources are consumed by the source of their addiction as both the psychological and physiological need for alcohol grow stronger. This behavior is concerning if your spouse is constantly canceling plans (especially ones that are part of their routine).  

10. Your sex life has taken a hit

It’s not unusual for there to be dry spells in a married couple’s sex life. However, if your intimacy has been lagging for an e

xtended period of time, it could be caused by alcohol’s libido-deflating effect in men. Numerous studies have shown that alcohol can lower testosterone levels.

alcohol-focused behavioral couples therapy

Protect Your Family, Get Help Today

An alcoholic spouse’s habits have negative repercussions that affect household dynamics, finances, and intimacy. These issues then create a domino effect of instability which affects spouses and their children. This is why alcoholism is considered to be a family disease as its effects extend far beyond the alcohol itself. Not sure how to broach the topic with your alcoholic husband or wife? Start with our addiction intervention guide that can help you navigate this sensitive but necessary subject. 

At Level Up Lake Worth, we offer family therapy to help couples and families work together to overcome the struggles listed above. We understand that the impacts of addiction never stop with the addict. Family therapy creates a safe space to talk honestly and for each member of the family to gain what they need to repair the unit as a whole.

Drugs Used to Treat Alcoholism & How They Work

Alcohol addiction is a disease that goes far beyond willpower. Chronic alcohol abuse can rewire your brain not only to crave a substance but physically require it in order to function. This dependence is why kicking a drinking habit is so difficult. Fortunately, there are several types of drugs used to treat alcoholism that target specific alcohol addiction side effects and help contribute to both short and long-term recovery efforts.

Disulfiram (Brand names: Antabuse)

This drug was the first of its kind to be FDA-approved for use as part of alcohol addiction treatment. Rather than treating symptoms of alcoholism, Disulfiram uses negative reinforcement to discourage alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol after taking this medication will induce unpleasant side effects like that of a bad hangover: nausea and vomiting, headaches, and sweating. When alcohol is introduced to the body with disulfiram already in the system, it produces a byproduct called acetaldehyde that is responsible for the previously listed effects.

Unfortunately, this aversion approach to alcohol abstinence can backfire, leaving little motivation for alcoholics to actually take this medication. As such, it’s often helpful to monitor individuals to ensure it’s taken. Disulfiram doesn’t necessarily need to be an ongoing medication and instead, can be reserved for use at times when temptation is at its strongest. This could be during extra-stressful events (example: holidays or losing a job) or at specific times of the day as part of a routine (example: after-work happy hour)

Naltrexone (Brand names: Revia, Depade, Vivitrol)

Initially approved for use in opioid addiction treatment, scientists stumbled upon Naltrexone’s ability to curb alcohol cravings. It does so by blocking opioid receptors which are responsible for causing feelings of pleasure. This prevents the pleasurable feelings that alcohol consumption might otherwise generate. Severing the reward pathway previously associated with drinking can help unravel alcohol’s hold on the brain which has been shown to be an effective means of reducing the likelihood of relapse. It is available in both pill form or as a monthly injectable. 

Acamprosate (Brand names: Campral)

The third of the three FDA-approved alcoholism medications, Acamprosate helps minimize the discomfort of the psychological-based alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety, depression, restlessness, and insomnia. It does this by interacting with GABA and glutamate transmitters – both of which levels get thrown off by the neurochemical changes caused by ongoing substance abuse. Otherwise, the discomfort caused by these imbalances can be a cause for newly recovering alcoholics to relapse.

 

One potential obstacle of this medication is that it requires a lot of pills: two of them three times a day. This can be especially difficult to keep track of if you are taking other medications at the same time.   

Gabapentin

Its principal use is as an antiepileptic drug intended to treat and prevent seizures. The same mechanisms that make it effective for treating epilepsy can also counter some of the neurological consequences of alcohol addiction. It works similarly to acamprosate by affecting GABA and glutamate receptors (although the exact mechanism is unknown). Gabapentin increases the levels of GABA within the brain, which overall helps to normalize GABA activity.

 

Studies have shown that gabapentin can ease anxiety and insomnia (a side effect of alcohol withdrawal) and help reduce cravings. The long-term benefits of which can reduce instances of heavy drinking and encourage alcohol abstinence. Findings are promising as a potential new alcoholism treatment medication. It is not yet approved by the FDA but is currently used in other countries. 

Topiramate

Similar to gabapentin, this medication is primarily used to treat epilepsy and migraines. It has been found to be effective for treating alcohol dependence (although it is not FDA approved specifically for this purpose). Also like gabapentin, topiramate affects GABA and glutamate neurotransmission.

 

The exact mechanism in which topiramate is able to achieve this is unclear, but it is believed to reduce dopamine release –  a key aspect in the formation of addiction. This essentially works to deprogram the alcoholic to associating drinking with pleasure and to rely on this substance as their primary dopamine source. 

Can a Pill Cure Alcoholism?

The benefits of drugs used to treat alcoholism cannot be overstated, however, they can only do so much on their own. These medications can help deter releasing, but do not guarantee alcohol abstinence. It is always recommended that these drugs are used in conjunction with some form of counseling or therapy to promote long-term recovery from alcohol addiction

 

6 Signs You Need to Go To an Alcohol Rehabilitation Center

Alcohol is such a deeply integrated cultural norm that discerning when the occasional over-indulgence has become true alcoholism can be difficult. After all, it’s not unusual for a person to drink too much, and doing so doesn’t automatically make them an alcoholic. What ultimately sets a binge apart from a true disorder is the person’s relationship with alcohol. Wondering where your drinking habits fall on the scale? Here are 6 not-so-subtle warning signs that you have unhealthy drinking habits and might need to go to an alcohol rehabilitation center:

1. You lie about how much you drink

It seems that whenever you’re asked about your drinking habits you constantly find yourself downplaying the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed or making excuses about why you “needed” the drinks you had. Simply put: if you feel the need to fib or become defensive, odds are that deep down you know your drinking habits are well beyond what others would consider normal. Similarly, frequently drinking alone or in secret is another red flag that your drinking habits have surpassed healthy standards.

2. You’ve given up hobbies and other activities that used to bring you pleasure

Planning your next drink is never far from your thoughts and it’s gotten to a point where you’ll cancel plans to make sure that it happens. Or, perhaps your drinking has become so frequent (and the hangovers so intense) that you’re no longer functional enough to indulge in your usual past times. It’s one thing to have your interests change, but it seems like more and more of your usual leisure activities have fallen by the wayside but your determination to drink remains unwavering.

3. Your work performance has noticeably slipped

Even more concerning than abandoning your hobbies—things you like to do— for alcohol, is abandoning the things you have to do. If your drinking habits have noticeably impeded your ability to function in the workplace (or any other place where you wield a significant amount of personal responsibility), you’re demonstrating that you find alcohol to be more important than one of the cornerstones of special expectations. And since work is directly related to the ability to provide for ourselves, it also means you’re valuing alcohol over the risk of shelter and other life necessities.

4. You have multiple DUIs

Getting tangled with the law for an infraction is as damaging to one’s reputation as it is costly. Doing so multiple times shows a blatant disregard for both health and safety as well as basic rational decision making. Impunitive actions like a DUI are meant to discourage such behavior. Their failure as a meaningful deterrent shows just how upended your priorities have become and also highlights the loss of control you have over your actions.

5. You know you drink too much but don’t change

If your usual approach to drinking is to say “I know I shouldn’t be doing this but…” and then do it anyway, it’s pretty clear that you’re struggling with self-control and the ability to self-regulate your drinking. If your body is saying “no” but you feel like some invisible force is making you say “yes” against your better judgment, that’s a fairly obvious sign of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

6. You experience withdrawal symptoms

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is indicative of physical dependence—the body’s precursor to full-blown addiction. Your neurochemical balance has been altered to a degree that it can no longer function normally without alcohol. This can be considered one of the most obvious and urgent signs that you might need to go to an alcohol rehabilitation center. These symptoms most commonly manifest themselves as shaking, sweating, headaches, hallucinations, nausea, and seizures, and can occur in as little as a few hours after your last drink.

Find an Alcohol Rehabilitation Center Near You

There are an estimated 17 million adults and adolescents with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Sadly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that only 1 of every 10 seek or receive any treatment. Part of the reason for such dismal numbers is simply that most individuals aren’t aware that they have a drinking problem. 

 

Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that will progressively get worse the longer it goes untreated. Exhibiting even one of these behaviors can be indicative of a potentially dangerous alcohol addiction. An alcohol rehabilitation center can help mitigate the unpleasant withdrawal effects and help with behavioral therapy for this chronic relapsing brain disorder.