India’s alcohol intake up 38%: The health risks of binge drinking and tips for cutting back


Excessive consumption of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of many health problems, including liver damage and heart disease. Here's how to cut back on your alcohol intake
 Medical science has linked excessive consumption of alcohol to an increased risk of many health problems, including liver damage and heart disease. Perhaps, a lot has been said about alcohol intake - while some studies suggest that moderate drinking may have some potential health benefits, other studies find that even the occasional drink can be harmful to health. For some people, avoiding alcohol is the best course considering that fact that the possible benefits don’t outweigh the risks. So, it seems confusing because there isn’t enough evidence yet to guide us on the level of alcohol consumption.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 3 million deaths occur across the world every year due to the harmful use of alcohol, representing some 5.3 per cent of all deaths. The global health agency said drinking alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and injuries. Meanwhile, a study published in the journal The Lancet found that global alcohol intake soared by 70 per cent, raising serious concerns. In India, the situation is alarming as the country witnessed a steep increase (38 per cent hike) in alcohol consumption between 2010 and 2017 from 4.3 to 5.9 litres per adult per year.

Estimates by the researchers from TU Dresden in Germany show that by 2030, half of all adults worldwide will drink alcohol, and almost a quarter ( about 23 per cent) will binge drink at least once a month, if current trends continue. Binge drinking is defined as the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session - usually five drinks for men and 4 drinks for women in a 2-hour period. 

Risks of binge drinking

Heavy use of alcohol can increase your risk of serious health conditions, including:
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart muscle damage, which may result in heart failure
  • Liver disease
  • Some forms of cancer - such as breast cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver, etc
  • Pancreatitis
  • Accidental serious injury or death
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to mental health issues, including depression and dementia. Binge drinking can also lead to sleep problems.

What you can do about it

You should get help by talking to a doctor, therapist, or an addiction specialist if you think you have a problem with alcohol use. Yet, you may try the following tips to help you cut back on your alcohol intake:
  1. Set a limit on how much you’re going to consume before you start drinking alcohol.
  2. Try to cut back a little amount each day or go for smaller sizes. 
  3. A simple strategy to reduce alcohol intake is to swap strong alcoholic drinks - such as whiskey and rums  - for ones with a lower strength. 
  4. Stay hydrated by ensuring that you have a glass of water before drinking alcohol – never take alcohol on an empty stomach. 
  5. Drink slowly. Also, try to drink water, soda, or juice after consuming an alcoholic drink. 
  6. Try having several drink-free days per week. 
  7. Stay away from people and places that may influence you to drink even when you do not want to.
Additionally, it’s important to let your family and friends know that you’re trying to limit your alcohol use as they can play an essential role in overcoming this problem.

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