As Michiganders continue to deal with pandemic-induced stress and anxiously look forward to getting back to a “new normal,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) Chair Pat Gagliardi urge moderation in drinking as they recognize April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

“The stresses of COVID-19 over the last year have stretched the limits of otherwise moderate drinkers and we’re seeing an increase in alcohol consumption and binge drinking that can result in long-term health issues,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “Excessive drinking can compromise a person’s immune system, which is a big concern during this pandemic. Additionally, drinking in excess causes issues like depression and can affect your sleep and digestion in addition to other side effects. If you drink alcohol, be aware of how much you’re consuming and always do so in moderation.”

Consider these statistics:

  • The average Michigander consumed nearly 956 alcoholic drinks in 2020, an average of 18 drinks per week.* This exceeds “heavy drinking” as defined as 14 drinks per week for men and seven per week for women, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Michigan ranked in the Top 10 among states that drank the most throughout 2020, beating the national average.*
  • The prevalence for binge drinking among Michigan adults is higher than the U.S. median; is significantly higher among Michigan males (22.3%) than females (12.3%); and highest within the 25 to 34-year-old age group (26.8%), followed by the 18 to 24-year-old (26.1%) and 35 to 44-year-old (21.2%) age groups.**

According to MDHHS, excessive alcohol use leads to approximately 3,205 deaths and 92,753 years of potential life lost in Michigan each year.

Alcohol awareness starts with these important reminders:

  • Know that alcohol products are increasingly more potent, such as hard liquors, including tequila and gin.
  • Know what a standard “drink” is: 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content); 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content); or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor (40% alcohol content) — gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.
  • Know consumption guidelines for healthy adults: one drink a day for women of all ages and men over age 65; up to two drinks a day for men under age 65.
  • Don’t binge drink. For women, it’s those who drink more than four drinks in an outing and men who drink more than five.
  • Know that heavy drinking can lead to chronic diseases, including problems with your liver, throat, larynx and esophagus. It can lead to high blood pressure, psychological problems and pancreatitis. And the risk of becoming an alcoholic.
  • Never drink while pregnant. If you become pregnant, stop drinking alcohol.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation:

  • Set limits on how much you’re drinking.
  • Don’t relax your rules; stick with your usual limits on alcohol.
  • Consider low- or no-alcohol drinks.
  • Limit sugary cocktails that can impact your immune system especially if you already have underlying health conditions.

“Alcohol is a controlled substance,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “I implore parents to set a good example for their kids about alcohol use. Talk to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking; drinking and driving and health issues attributable to drinking in excess. These are important lessons that can save lives and last a lifetime.”

National Alcohol Awareness Month in America provides an opportunity to increase awareness of alcohol addiction and to bring understanding of alcohol’s causes, the effective treatments available, plus encouraging people that recovery is very possible. Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to help communities reach out to the public and provide answers to end the stigma associated with alcohol abuse.

For more information and resources available, please visit: MDHHS – Treatment (michigan.gov) or Ncadd.org/

It is the mission of the MLCC to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through the regulation of those involved in the importation, sale, consumption, distribution, and delivery of these alcohol products.

Sources:

Americans consumed an average of 17 drinks per week in 2020 (drugabuse.com)

** 2018 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System