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Misguided Medicine: Moderate Alcohol Use is NOT Healthy

Following new examinations of data, the previously held notion that moderate alcohol use is good for you is untrue.

For many years, it has been widely accepted that low to moderate alcohol consumption has certain health benefits, such as protecting against cardiovascular or heart diseases. Even with research from over 60 clinical studies suggesting that light to moderate alcohol consumption can help with cholesterol or protect against heart attack, doctors have struggled with the idea of recommending drinking to their patients. It is well documented that excessive alcohol consumption leads to potentially fatal health problems, and if doctors were seen advising a couple of glasses of wine to their patients, they would not only be politically incorrect but also run the risk of indirectly increasing the societal and health problems caused by alcohol consumption.

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Doctors need not worry about this dilemma any longer. According to a recent editorial released by the Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA), the studies that concluded that light to moderate drinking was flawed in such a way that the evidence for the health benefits of alcohol was skewed for booze.  Months of digging through the research that supported those incorrect conclusions brought to view the failures in the group control of those studies, which led to a more passive light being shown on this socially accepted drug. Even the American Heart Association issued a formal statement urging doctors not to recommend alcohol, despite the numerous studies that claimed that alcohol was beneficial.

The Booze Dilemma: Where did They go Wrong?

_alcohol4Study after study, for the past several decades, has concluded that drinking alcohol in light to moderate fashion has health benefits. These studies, however, used language that was vague and their results often seemed to mirror the ideas that the researchers were looking for.

For example, a study conducted by the University of Campobasso stated that alcohol consumed in moderation would lead to a longer life, as reported by a highly reputed news source in an online article titled “Want to Live Longer? Toss Back a Few Cocktails”. Interestingly, that news source seems to no longer support this idea, as the content has been removed from their page. In the actual study, the conclusions were slightly different than that headline purported. “Little amounts, preferably during meals, this appears to be the right way (to drink alcohol),” said Dr. Giovanni de Gaetano of Catholic University, an author on the study. “This is another feature of the Mediterranean diet, where alcohol, wine above all, is the ideal partner for a dinner or lunch, but that’s all: the rest of the day must be alcohol-free.”

In 1993, the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study with less than 400 people that decided that the antioxidant properties of red wine helped to decrease the chances of catching a cold by 60%. However, these results were also in conjunction with the study of smokers vs. non-smokers in the increased susceptibility of the cold virus.

And, in addition to those studies, countless others have been debated among the scientific and medical communities, with arguments both for and against alcohol being medically beneficial. Now, however, there is new evidence coming to light that these studies are inaccurate at best. It is almost as if the people conducting the research were looking for a particular result, and interpreted their “science” to show the desired conclusions. The SSA study found contradictions in the outcomes of “previous observational studies relevant to alcohol use, including cognitive function (dementia), children’s academic achievement, balance and blood pressure (cardiovascular health), all finding no protective effect from the low-dose of alcohol.”

_alcohol2Among many others, the biggest problem with these studies was the inclusion of people who had quit drinking in the group of “abstainers.” This led to an exaggerated example of beneficial qualities of alcohol in moderate drinkers, as some of those “abstainers” had already done serious damage to their bodies and brains. As no consideration was given to the state of health of the participants before the study was begun, it seemed that the number of health problems among the “abstainers” was higher than that of the low to moderate drinkers. This is known as “selection bias,” which means the studies in question are inconclusive, as they did not strictly follow the scientific method of experimentation. Taking the people who had previously been heavy drinkers out of the equation, many of these studies might reverse their results, showing that complete abstinence is a much healthier lifestyle than even light alcohol consumption.

Now What?

The bottom line for this new information is that alcohol can be dangerous for your health in virtually any amount. It is a poison that has adverse effects on the brain, liver, lungs and heart. Alcohol is toxic to living things, which is where the term “intoxicated” comes from. Even in small amounts, ethanol causes chemical reactions with the living cells in the human body, altering the way that they function and even killing some of them off.

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While the goal of A Forever Recovery is helping our patients to discover the strength and ability to achieve a clean and sober lifestyle, completely free from drugs and alcohol, we are not saying that every person who drinks alcohol has a problem. There are plenty of individuals who can have a couple of drinks now and then who are not struggling with addiction. However, if you or someone you know thinks that there might be problems with drinking or any other form of addiction, the recovery program at AFR can help.

With various options in treatment modalities available for our patients to choose from, our thorough rehabilitation strategy is designed to be adaptable to every person that comes to us seeking help with their substance abuse issues. Beginning with our medically supervised detox clinic and continuing through our extensive aftercare department, we have made a commitment to helping our patients with every step that they take on the path to recovery. Our goal is not to help our patients to simply get clean from drugs and alcohol, but to help them uncover and address the underlying causes of their addictive behaviors, showing them how to remain sober after they graduate from our program and how to face the problems that life presents head-on, without resorting to using drugs or alcohol.

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