Understanding Alcoholism and Getting Help

Understanding How Much is “Too Much”

Q: How much alcohol is considered “too much?”
A: For women, consuming more than seven drinks per week and for men, consuming more than 13 drinks per week on a regular basis is considered overconsumption.

Q: How can I tell if I am an alcoholic?
A: If you think you may have a problem with alcohol consumption, take the Alcohol Self-Assessment Test.

Q: What are some of the health risks associated with alcoholism?
A: There are many health risks associated with the overconsumption of alcohol. Some include: liver damage, brain damage, breast cancer, other types of cancers, heart disease, pancreatitis, stroke, pneumonia, seizures, gastritis/peptic ulcer disease (PUD), hypertension, diabetes and mental health risks like depression, anxiety.

Q: Is it safe to drink a small amount of alcohol while pregnant?
A: Absolutely not. NO AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL is safe to drink while you are pregnant. Drinking could potentially have serious health risks for your newborn, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Read more about FAS.

Source: March of Dimes


The Effects On Society

Q: Are there any negative effects on the economy due to alcoholism?
A: Absolutely. Alcoholism affects not only individuals and their friends and family, but also businesses, employers and the economy as a whole. In the past, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Awareness (NIAAA) reported that the total economic cost of alcohol abuse was $185 billion per year and rising. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, auto accidents, crime and social welfare administration. Unexpected or unplanned events that can occur due to the overconsumption of alcohol include sexually transmitted disease (STD) contraction and unplanned pregnancy.


Helping Yourself

Q: Is alcoholism a disease?
A: Yes, alcoholism is a disease. It is a chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. Alcoholics are unable to control their behavior.

Source: American Society of Addiction Medicine

Q: How can I take steps to help myself overcome alcohol addiction?
A: Depending on the severity of your alcoholism, we recommend seeking professional help, since overcoming alcoholism on your own is extremely difficult. Here are some strategies that have helped others:

• Talk to a physician or health care provider.

• Ask for support from a non-drinking family member or friend.

• Join a support group such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) to build a network of friends who are struggling with the same issues and have found ways to live without or reduce their consumption of alcohol.

• Avoid “triggers” – certain people or places that make you drink even when you do not want to.

• Plan to handle urges. When an urge hits, consider other options such as exercising.

• Feel comfortable saying “no.” When offered a drink, have a polite, convincing “no, thanks” ready and stick with it.

Q: Is there a hotline I can call for help if I am not ready to see someone yet?
A: Yes, you can call the Alcoholics Anonymous O‘ahu Central Office. Phone lines are answered 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Please call (808) 946-1438.

Q: Where can I seek help if I choose to make a positive lifestyle change?
A: There are many Hawai‘i-based and national resources and programs available to help you begin your journey of recovery. To see Hina Mauka’s list of recommended resources, please click here.

Q: Can I talk to my doctor if I think I might have a problem with alcohol?
A: Absolutely. We encourage all patients to speak openly with their doctors. Some patients may feel uncomfortable talking about their personal life, but alcoholism directly affects your physical and mental health. It is very important that your primary care physician is aware of any problems you think you might have so he can help you. In certain cases, he might refer you to a mental health doctor such as a psychiatrist or psychologist counselor for further, more personalized help.

How You Can Help Others

Q: I have a friend/family member who needs help with alcoholism, but they won’t admit they have a problem. How can I help them?
A: First, express your genuine concern. Talk with your friend in person and show your compassion. Let them know that you want to help because you care about their health and well-being. Feel free to refer them to Hina Mauka and the services we offer.

Q: How can I talk to my teen about alcohol consumption and really make her listen?
A: Bringing up alcohol with your teenager can be a daunting task. The earlier you can talk to them about alcohol consumption, the better. Start by asking some questions in a non-judgmental way. Encourage honesty and let them know that your aim is not to punish, but to educate and be supportive. Some good questions are:

  • Do the kids you hang out with at school drink alcohol?

  • Have you ever tried alcohol?

  • Why did you try alcohol? Did you feel pressured?

  • How often do you drink alcohol?

  • Have you ever been drunk?

  • Have you ever gotten sick?

  • Is it easy for you to stop drinking when you feel you’ve had enough?

  • Have you ever gotten into the car with someone who was drunk?

Next, give them the facts. Assure them that if they are ever in a bad situation or if they drink too much, arrange transportation so they don’t have to drive. Instilling trust in your teen is very important so that if they are ever in a bad situation, they will feel comfortable coming to you for help. This helps avoid accidents, driving under the influence (DUI), and even death.

Q: I suspect that one of my employees is struggling with alcoholism. How can I help him? Would I be overstepping my boundaries if I got involved?
A: As the employer, you are certainly not overstepping your boundaries if there are performance issues. By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the negative impact of alcoholism in the workplace, while also reducing associated costs. Research has demonstrated that alcohol treatment pays for itself in reduced health care costs, which begin as soon as people start treatment. Alcohol treatment also improves an individual’s functioning capacity, leading to increased productivity at work.

Q: What is AA?
A: AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is a completely self-supporting, multiracial and apolitical operation available in any U.S. state and in multiple countries. There are no age or education requirements and membership is open to anyone who wants help.

Q: How many people are currently members of Alcoholics Anonymous?
A: According to the AA website, there are approximately 2,000,000 members in the United States who attend AA.

Q: How do I become a member and become involved with AA? How do I find a location in my area?
A: Simply call the AA hotline, where trained phone counselors are available to speak with you about anything related to alcoholism such as general information about AA, the 12-step process to recovery, types of meetings and resources in your area. Visit their website at http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.com/ or call the hotline at (877) 515-1255.

Q: How can I help donate to or support this cause in Hawaii?
A:Supporting treatment with a donation to Hina Mauka will ensure that someone is given hope through the gift of recovery. Donate to Hina Mauka online or by mail using this form.

Also consider supporting or participating in the annual Dance for Recovery Zumbathon and/or Hina Mauka Benefit Luau


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