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Ask your questions about alcohol consumption

Ask your questions about alcohol consumption

It is estimated that half of Brazilians aged 18 years and over have consumed alcoholic beverages at least once in the last year. Regarding university students considered to be a vulnerable group, most exposed to such behavior, 86.2% had used this substance at least once in their lifetime and 25.3% had drunk in the last 30 days in the binge pattern. This model consists of excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period of time, which exposes the individual to a series of health risks.

The effects on the body are complex due to the influence of several individual factors along with specific characteristics of the drink , such as volume, time spent, patterns of consumption, among others. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that alcohol is associated with more than 60 types of acute or chronic illness and injury and can be separated into three categories:

1. Totally attributed to alcohol (alcoholic psychoses, abuse and dependence, fetal alcohol syndrome, cirrhosis of the liver, among others);

2. Contributing to chronic conditions (various cancers, spontaneous abortion, among others);

3. In addition, although there are studies pointing to the benefits of mild and moderate use of alcohol for health, it is important to emphasize that this is certainly not the case for all, since its effects and consequences differ in each individual.

Because there are no scientific studies that prescribe a "safe" dose for alcohol consumption during gestation, I recommend avoiding it altogether in this period.

There are cases where alcoholic beverages should be avoided , such as during pregnancy because it crosses the placenta of the mother and can bring countless damages to the fetus, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (SFA), considered the greatest avoidable cause of mental retardation in children. Among the main characteristics of SFA, facial dysmorphology, deficiency in pre or postnatal growth, and abnormalities in the central nervous system are particularly noteworthy.

Because there are no scientific studies that establish a "safe" dose for alcohol consumption during the gestation, I recommend avoiding it totally in this period. Other conditions under which consumption is not recommended, consistent with WHO's recommendations, include:

- Under 18 years;

- Situations where attention and reaction are fully required, such as automotive vehicle steering and operation

- People with alcohol dependence or using drugs whose effects can be altered by the concomitant use of the substance.

I believe that, talking about a subject as complex and submerged in myths and beliefs as dependence alcoholism, it is necessary to clarify two important aspects that always question me:

What is alcohol dependence?

Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a chronic, complex, multifactorial disease and comprises different symptoms. According to the 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), it is characterized as the repetition of problems arising from alcohol use, which lead to losses or clinically significant distress manifested by at least three of the criteria listed below, occurring at any time in the 12-month period:

1.

Tolerance, defined by any of the following: a. a need for progressively larger amounts of the substance to acquire the desired intoxication or effect; B. marked reduction of the effect with continued use of the same amount of substance.

2. Abstinence, manifested by any of the following: a. withdrawal syndrome characteristic of the substance; B. the same substance (or a closely related substance) is consumed to alleviate or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

3. the substance is often consumed in larger quantities or for a longer period than intended. 4.

there is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control the use of the substance. 5.

much time is spent on activities required to obtain the substance (eg, (eg, group smoking) or the recovery of their effects. 6.

Important social, occupational or recreational activities are abandoned or 7.

Substance use continues, despite the awareness of having a persistent or recurring physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by the substance (eg, use current cocaine although the individual recognizes that an ulcer is worsened by alcohol consumption). How to know when someone is dependent on alcohol or when to seek help ?

There are several questionnaires that can aid in the diagnosis of disorders related to alcohol use. For example: "Have you ever thought that you should lower your alcohol intake?" "Has anyone ever criticized you over the drink?" "Have you ever felt bad or guilty about drinking?" "Were you awake yet and the first thing you did was drink to feel good? ". If the individual responds positively to one of these questions, it may be indicative of problems arising from the use of the substance.

More important: even if all responses are negative, I recommend that the individual seek help from health professionals when situations occur in which alcohol can negatively influence routine, academic and / or professional functions and personal relationships.


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A study recently presented at the last Congress of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology caused surprise to the medical class, because it pointed out that 40% of Brazilians have cholesterol above normal. Worrying, given that the American population, considered to be a major victim of this problem, has a lower percentage: 36%.

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