Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Are You a Risky Drinker?

Alcoholism Only Small Part of U.S. Alcohol Abuse, Experts Say

What Is Risky Drinking? continued...

For men this means more than 14 drinks per week, or more than four drinks on any occasion. For women this means more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks on any occasion.

What is a "drink?" It is one 12-ounce beer, or one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1-1/2 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

Who's counting? Everyone who drinks should, says panelist Marc Schuckit, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the alcohol and drug treatment program and the alcohol research center at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

Safe drinking means not exceeding the recommended number of drinks. It isn't safe drinking if you drink to reach a certain effect, Schuckit says.

"A variety of things contribute to risky drinking," he notes. "One is the hollow leg -- the relative resistance to alcohol. People who are resistant to the effects of alcohol will drink more and hang out with people who drink more. So setting limits would control alcoholism."

At first, drinking makes a person feel good. After too much risky drinking, a person doesn't feel good until he or she has a drink.

"People say it doesn't feel good anymore, but I can't stop," Willenbring says. "At this point, people are not drinking to get high anymore. They are drinking to reduce stress. Once these changes occur, they may be permanent."

Current Treatment Inadequate

The health care system is failing people with drinking problems, Willenbring says.

"Only 24% of those who have ever had alcohol dependency seek treatment," he notes. "Only 12% of those who seek it ever receive any form of treatment. It is disconnected from mainstream health care. And reimbursement is almost impossible to obtain."

Even when people get treatment -- and can pay for it -- it's usually not good enough.

"Minimum standards for treatment of alcohol disorders are met only 11% of the time," he says. "That's the worst of all major causes of death in the U.S."

In fact, it's the worst treated of all major medical conditions, reports panelist Eric Goplerud, PhD, professor of health policy at George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
Slideshow
prescription pain pills
Article
 
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Article
Teen girl huddled outside house
Article
 
Man with glass of scotch
Article
overturned shot glass
Article
 
assortment of medication
Article
Depressed and hurting
Article