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Alcohol Awareness Month

Dr. Ds Medical Update

With the start of the COVID pandemic last year, we missed that April is Alcohol Awareness Month. As the weather gets warmer and COVID numbers begin to drop and everyone gets vaccinated, it will become time for B-B-Q’s and picnics again. I thought it would be a good time to discuss issues about alcohol use and abuse. As I’ve shared in the past, I am very familiar with this subject and thought that by sharing my experiences, it could bring the issues to light.

Growing up in New Mexico, my Grandpa was a binge drinker. I remember going with my mom to look for him at the cemetery when he had been drinking. One Sunday afternoon, one of my aunts went to my grandparent’s home and found him unconscious. She managed to revive him and he was taken to the hospital. It was a very scary time for our family and, thankfully, a scary time for my Grandpa. He never drank again for the rest of his life. He spent the last years of his life enjoying his grandkids and got to see his first great-grandchild. Alcohol shortened his life, but at least he enjoyed his last years.

At least three of my uncles have also had issues with alcohol. It has cost them jobs and relationships, and one of them, his life. One thankfully quit drinking and has been a joy to be around and has been happily married to my aunt for the last 25+ years.

So, how do you know if you drink too much? Answering Yes” to any of the following questions may mean you have a problem with alcohol.

1) Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?

2) Does your drinking ever make you late for work?

3) Does your drinking worry your family?

4) Do you ever drink after telling yourself you wont?

5) Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?

6) Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?

If you, or someone you care about, can answer Yes” to any of those questions, here are some ideas that might help:

1) Keep track of your drinking and set a drinking limit. No, a case of beer per weekend is not a reasonable limit.

2) Try to avoid places where heavy drinking occurs. Yes, that may mean staying away from the party and “those” friends

3) Ask for help from your doctor, family or friends. People who care about you will help you get the assistance you need.

4) If you keep alcohol in your home, keep only a limited supply. A six pack for the week instead of a couple of cases.

The screening questions we ask in our office often raise eyebrows of those who end up with high scores. It is a good opportunity to talk about alcohol and the effects it can have on a person’s health. Studies are coming out weekly about the dangerous effects of even moderate alcohol use.

Some aren’t ready to hear the message, but over time, I hope it can make a difference. See your HealthTexas doctor if you have questions.

Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Medical Group, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.