Alcohol is known to be harmful to our health in general. During this time of heightened stress, loneliness and anxiety, some might have suddenly increased their consumption of alcohol as a way of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, did you know that alcohol use can contribute to mental health issues, health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviors and violence?
Alcohol’s impact on your body starts from the moment you take your first sip. While an occasional glass of wine with dinner isn’t a cause for concern, you should be mindful of your changes in alcohol use and know the health risks.
How much alcohol is too much? That depends on a variety of factors, including your weight and gender. Moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men, according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Consuming more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women is considered heavy alcohol use which can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol use disorder.
While you may have heard of the circulating myth that drinking alcohol can protect you against COVID-19, the truth is that it can increase complications of COVID-19, as well as pose other health risks including:
- Weakened immune system
- Increased risk for infection
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Stomach bleeding
- Cancers such as breast, liver, esophageal, colorectal, and head and neck
Quitting or cutting back on alcohol can be hard for some but making small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of having alcohol-related problems.
- Keep track of how much you drink.
- Decide how many days a week you want to drink as well as how many drinks you’ll have on those days. It’s a good idea to have several drink-free days each week.
- Try filling the time you spend drinking with new activities, hobbies, and strengthening relationships.
By getting your drinking in check you’ll start to notice that your mood is better, you feel more rested, your judgement is enhanced, and you’ll restore your body’s ability to fight infections.
If you think your drinking is a problem, contact your doctor to discuss your concern. Your doctor can help you monitor your drinking and provide strategies to get you back on track.