HOUSTON (Feb. 21, 2011) – The Harris County Hospital District encourages people to carefully consider the consequences of consuming alcohol, and reminds everyone that in Texas only people over the age of 21 can legally drink alcohol. If drinking in celebration of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA’s March Madness College Basketball Tournament or any occasion, the hospital district wants you know your limits.
“Most people do abstain from alcohol or drink it responsibly and within recommended limits — social drinking — and that’s fine,” says Dr. Alicia Ann Kowalchuk, medical director, Harris County Hospital District’s InSight, an early alcohol and drug intervention program. “It’s the others who don’t follow the recommended levels whom we’re concerned about, and the ones who tend to pose the most danger to themselves and others in the community.”
For those who drink.
Here are some healthy drinking limit guidelines from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
“Alcohol absorption and metabolism are different in men and women and change as we age,” Kowalchuk says. “Absorption is how alcohol gets into the bloodstream from the stomach, and metabolism is the way the body processes or breaks down alcohol. This means women get more alcohol in their bloodstream from each drink compared to men.”
But what constitutes a drink?
The NIAAA recommends the following guidelines for standard drink amounts:
For some people it’s not safe or healthy to drink at all.
You should not drink if you:
Unsure if you have a problem?
Kowalchuk has some warning signs. She recommends you seek immediate care if you are unable to drink within healthy limits or have any of the following, which may indicate a more severe problem, such as alcohol addiction:
In the United States, alcohol use is related to more than 105,000 deaths every year. It accounts for about $167 billion a year in lost productivity and costs associated with criminal justice and healthcare. In Texas alone, the cost is about $16.4 billion a year.
The Harris County Hospital District recommends people with alcohol problems seek immediate care from their primary care physician. For more information on the topic, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at www.niaaa.nih.gov/
The Harris County Hospital District (hchdonline.com) is the community-owned healthcare system for the nation’s third most-populous county. Providing care during more than 1.4 million visits each year to residents of Harris County, the hospital district operates Ben Taub General Hospital, Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, Quentin Mease Community Hospital, 13 community health centers, the nation’s first free-standing HIV/AIDS treatment facility, a dialysis center, a dental center, nine school-based clinics, 13 homeless shelter clinics and five mobile health units. Harris County Hospital District has received the prestigious National Committee for Quality Assurance designation for its network of patient-centered medical homes. The hospital district is staffed by faculty and residents from world-renowned medical school partners, Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.