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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 024-06
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)
Sara Markt (smarkt@health.nyc.gov)


DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE URGES NEW YORKERS TO GET HELP FOR UNHEALTHY DRINKING

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month

NEW YORK CITY – April 18, 2006 – During National Alcohol Awareness Month, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is encouraging New Yorkers who drink excessively to seek help. Recovery from alcohol dependence is possible and New Yorkers can talk to their doctor or call 311 and ask for LIFENET to get help.

Excessive drinking is defined as more than 4 drinks in one sitting or 14 drinks in one week for men, or more than 3 drinks in one sitting or 7 drinks in one week for women. A 2003 report showed that an estimated 15% of adult New Yorkers – nearly 900,000 people – report excessive drinking. Young white men are at highest risk for excessive drinking; black and Hispanic New Yorkers are more likely to be hospitalized or die from alcohol-related causes. Excessive drinking is most prevalent in Manhattan of all five boroughs.

"Unhealthy drinking is a major public mental health concern," said Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer, DOHMH’s Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene Services. "People who drink excessively jeopardize their health as well as their relationships, jobs, and financial security. It is possible to successfully overcome problem drinking and alcohol dependence through the help of family, friends, a doctor or counselor, medications, and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous."

"Men who have more than two drinks per day and women who have more than one drink per day are drinking too much," said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. "Excessive drinking can contribute to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Every year in New York City, excessive drinking causes about 25,000 hospitalizations from preventable injuries and illnesses and more than 1,500 preventable deaths from motor vehicle crashes, falls, assaults, liver disease, cancer, and other causes."

Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Drinking

For people who drink excessively, the risks of alcohol far outweigh any of its benefits. Excessive drinking increases the risk of alcohol dependence, cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer, and many other illnesses, and can lead to injuries and accidents.

Some people should not drink at all: people who intend to drive or operate machinery; pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant; people with uncontrolled diabetes, congestive heart failure, or chronic stomach, liver, or pancreatic problems; and anyone under the legal drinking age of 21.

For some adults, moderate alcohol consumption can have health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Moderate drinking is generally defined as no more than two drinks a day.

How To Know If You Have An Alcohol Problem

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may have an alcohol problem.

  • Have you ever:
    • thought you should cut down on your drinking?
    • become annoyed when people criticize your drinking?
    • felt scared, bad, or guilty about your drinking?
    • taken an "eye-opener" drink to feel better in the morning?
  • Has your alcohol use caused problems in the following areas: family, friends, social life, health, depression, anxiety, work, money, lifestyle, legal, driving?

Live Free of Dependence on Alcohol and Drugs - A "Take Care New York" Priority

One of the most important steps that New Yorkers can take to improve their health is to get help to stop alcohol and drug abuse. As outlined in the City's health policy, "Take Care New York", the Health Department is working to promote alcohol abuse screening and treatment throughout the City. Alcohol dependence can be effectively treated with counseling, 12-step programs, medications, and other interventions. Brief physician interventions and counseling are effective in helping people reduce harmful drinking. For more information on these and other Take Care New York steps to a longer and healthier life, visit www.takecarenewyork.org.

For counseling and referral services, call 1-800-LIFENET or call 311 and ask for LIFENET. LIFENET is available in English at 1-800-LIFENET (1-800-543-3638), Spanish (1-877-AYUDESE; 1-877-298-3373), and Chinese (1-877-990-8585). For other languages, New Yorkers can call LIFENET and ask for a translator.

To read DOHMH’s Health Bulletin on alcohol use, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/public/dohmhnews2-05.pdf

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Learn more about Take Care New York
Read the "Alcohol -- Risks and Benefits" Health Bulletin (PDF)