During this Carnival Season many Dominicans might be thinking of drinking some form of alcohol or alcoholic drink. The Ministry of health takes this opportunity to remind you of these facts about alcohol consumption.
Alcohol misuse in the form of binge drinking or drinking heavily over a long periods not only harms the individual but is damaging to relationships and society in general in terms of violence and crime, drinking and driving which result in traffic accidents, injury and premature death.

It affects the drinker in many different ways:

1. EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN

Binge drinking can cause blackouts, memory loss and anxiety. Long-term drinking can result in permanent brain damage, serious mental health problems and alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Young people’s brains are particularly vulnerable because the brain is still developing during their teenage years. Alcohol can damage parts of the brain, affecting behaviour and the ability to learn and remember.

2. EFFECTS ON THE HEART

Alcohol can cause high blood pressure (hypertension) increasing the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It also weakens heart muscles, which can affect lungs, liver, brain and other body systems and can cause heart failure. Binge drinking and drinking heavily over longer periods can cause the heart to beat irregularly and has been linked to cases of sudden death.

3. EFFECTS ON THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

This can result in the development of:
•    Stomach ulcers,
•    Internal bleeding
•    Cancer of the stomach and colon

4. OTHER EFFECTS

Weight gain: Alcohol is high in calories. Weight for weight, the alcohol in a drink contains almost as many calories as fat. The average bottle of wine contains 600 calories while four pints of beer contains 640 calories.

Sexual Behaviour: Binge drinking makes you lose your inhibitions and affects your judgement. This might make you less likely to use a condom, increasing your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhoea, HIV or result in an unplanned pregnancy

Alcohol affects the parts of your brain that control judgment, concentration, coordination, behaviour and emotions. If you are binge drinking, you may be at greater risk of:
•    becoming a victim of crime, eg rape, domestic violence or assault;
•    being involved in antisocial or criminal behaviour, eg fights, domestic violence, vandalism or theft;
•    having an accident, eg a traffic accident, fall

During this Carnival Season if you do drink please try and stay within recommended limits:
Men – No more than 3 to 4 drinks of alcohol a day
Women- No more than 2 to 3 drinks of alcohol a day

TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR DRINKING

•    Avoid drinking alcohol

However if you do drink:
•    Eat before or while drinking, and avoid salty snacks, which make you thirsty.
•    Be assertive – don’t be pressured into drinking more than you want or intend to.
•    Know your limits and stick to them.
•    Stay busy – don’t just sit and drink.
•    Try not to confuse large measures of alcohol with standard measures, eg a glass of wine served at a party or at home may be much larger than the standard 125ml.
•    Keep track of your drinks and don’t let people top up your drink until it’s finished.
•    Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.