Health & Fitness

The docs: Beware of alcohol excess

There was a time when being plotzed was considered funny. Do you remember the comedians Foster Brooks and Dean Martin? Foster, slurring every word: “Have you ever been in Schenectady?” Martin: “No.” Foster: “Neither was I. It must have been a couple of other guys.”

Those days are long gone. But Americans’ inclination to drink too much has never been greater! According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,700 Americans died last year from alcohol-induced causes, such as alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis. If drinking-related homicides and accidents were included, the number might hit 90,000!

That toll is greater than deaths related to heroin or pain pills combined, so it could be considered our most serious addiction. And because excess alcohol can raise body-wide inflammation, it can also trigger heart attack and stroke, lead to cancer, damage the brain, plus devastate relationships with loved ones. But because it’s legal, folks may not recognize their own (or a loved one’s) overindulgence for the health crisis it is.

So, as we focus on the best ways to counter addiction, we want to make sure to offer help to those who need to gain control over dependence on alcohol. Alcoholism is not something to be ashamed of any more than you would feel ashamed for having Parkinson’s disease or psoriasis. It’s a treatable disease that you can overcome with a combination of 12-step programs, specific medications and counseling. Check out information at doctoroz.com and Clevelandclinic.com’s Center for Behavioral Health. And then help someone to get to, and celebrate, recovery.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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