Alcohol is very much a part of our lives here in the Cayman Islands. If not directly, indirectly you may know someone who has experienced the pirate’s lifestyle that is represented in today’s media. On one side we see Jack Sparrow chugging a bottle of rum while drunkenly singing around a bonfire. On the other, we see total destruction and abuse to the human spirit. Overall, Hollywood has painted a pretty serious picture of the Caribbean lifestyle relating to alcohol consumption. However, it is important to separate the truth and myths of this substance. This may help with your decisions when out for dinner or on the beach with friends.
Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as reducing your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. This directly relates to reducing your risk of an ischemic stroke which is when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow. As well researchers concluded that moderate drinking could possibly reduce your risk of diabetes. For both men and women, wine was seen as reducing the risk by more than 25 percent and beer by 21 percent. Clear spirits, on the other hand, were concluded to increase women’s risks of developing diabetes by 83 percent. But health experts urge caution over these findings. Diabetes UK, the British charity dedicated to supporting people suffering from the condition, say that people should not see it as an incentive to drink.
How do we define moderate consumption? Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65. Men younger than 65 should only have up to two drinks a day. Keep in mind that even moderate alcohol use isn’t risk-free. For example, even light drinkers have a tiny, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer. While moderate alcohol use may offer some health benefits, heavy drinking has no health benefits. Heavy drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and men older than the age of 65. As well more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men younger than 65. Binge drinking like the famous Jack Sparrow can cause serious harm and is not to be taken lightly.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can affect all aspects of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications, can damage emotional stability, finances, career, and impact one’s family, friends and community. Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Up to 40 percent of all hospital beds in the US (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are directly related to the abuse of alcohol consumption. Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks. But it has a great deal to do with a person’s uncontrollable need for alcohol. Most alcoholics can’t just “use a little willpower” to stop drinking. The alcoholic is frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. While some people are able to recover without help, the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover. Yet, with support and treatment, many are able to stop drinking and reclaim their lives.
Consider how much you are drinking on a daily or even weekly basis. We do not want to deter people from enjoying a well-deserved drink. But we wish for people to do so responsibly and understand the limits to alcohol consumption before it becomes a life altering risk. Drink in moderation and enjoy the perks that it has to offer. But more importantly, know the truth about alcoholism and understand the myths. Alcohol does not make you invincible.