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Women at greater risk for alcohol related problems

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Women are at greater risk than men for developing alcohol related problems. Alcohol is dispersed in water in the body, and typically women weigh less than men and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men. Therefore, a woman's brain and other organs are more exposed to the toxic effects of alcohol.

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Seven in 10 adults always drink at low risk levels or do not drink at all. Three in 10 adults drink at levels that put them at risk.

What is considered "heavy" or "at-risk" drinking?

For men this is more than four drinks on any single day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women this is more than three drinks on any single day or more than seven drinks per week. About one in four people who drink this much already have alcoholism or alcohol abuse, and the rest are at greater risk for developing these or other problems.

What is the harm?

You may have heard that there are benefits to the heart with light to moderate drinking. But the risks of larger intakes of alcohol outweigh potential benefits. Increased injuries, health problems, birth defects if drinking occurs during pregnancy, and alcohol use disorders are some of the risks associated with "heavy" or "at-risk" drinking.

Who should not drink alcohol?

• Anyone under age 21

• Anyone unable to restrict drinking to moderate levels

• Women who may become or are pregnant

• Taking medication that can interact with alcohol

• Planning to drive, operate machinery or other dangerous activities

Thinking about a change? It's up to you. Other people may help, but it is your decision. Some strategies for cutting down or quitting include:

• Keep track of how much you drink

• Count and measure, know the standard drink sizes so you can count accurately

• Set goals — decide how many days and how much each day, plan for days you don't drink

• Pace and space — sip slowly, no more than one drink per hour, intersperse non-alcoholic drinks

• Include food — don't drink on an empty stomach

• Find alternatives — fill free time with healthy activities, hobbies, and friends

• Avoid "triggers" — plan to do something instead of drinking

• Plan to handle urges — remind yourself of your reasons for changing, get involved with other activities or wait for the feeling to pass

• Know your "no" — be ready to say no thanks.

Check out the website below for ideas on strategies to cut down or quit. For more information and interactive features: http://www.RethinkingDrinking.niaaa.nih.gov

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