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Approximately 20% of Massachusetts and U.S. adults report engaging in abusing alcohol at least once a week, typically consuming about seven drinks per binge session. This consumption far exceeds the legal intoxication threshold, defined as a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08%. For women, this usually means four drinks within two hours, and for men, five drinks within the same timeframe. 

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Drinking Habits

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated heavy drinking habits, particularly among women. The frequency of heavy drinking days among women surged by 41% during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic times. Notably, women in their 30s and 40s are significantly increasing their binge drinking rates, with no signs of this trend abating 

Identifying Alcohol Abuse in Loved Ones

Do you worry about the drinking habits of a partner or friend?  Are you growing concerned they may be becoming addicted to alcohol? 

Things to look for if you are concerned 

  • Do they have a high tolerance for alcohol, allowing them to consume large amounts for their weight and still function normally? 
  • Do they drink to improve their mood or make themselves happy? 
  • Does your friend drink specifically to get drunk? Do they often consume alcohol until they reach a state of intoxication or frequently talk about how much they enjoy being drunk? Do they start drinking before going to events where alcohol will be served? 
  • Is drinking a high priority for them? Do they often drink alone, choosing alcohol over spending time with loved ones? 
  • Does your friend hide their drinking habits? Have you found bottles hidden around the house, or do they tell you they are working late only to come home drunk? 
  • If they take a break from drinking, do they experience symptoms like headaches, nausea, irritability, tremors, or hallucinations?  
  • Does your friend continue to drink despite having one or more DUI convictions or job losses? 
  • Despite all these signs, do they firmly deny having a problem with alcohol? 

If you answer yes to several of the questions posed here, your friend may have a problem that requires immediate attention.  

Now what?  

How to Address Alcohol Abuse with Loved Ones

The keys to talking about alcohol abuse with a family member or friend:

  • Choose the right time and setting: Begin the conversation in a quiet and private space where you both can talk without interruptions. 
  • Express concern with compassion. 
  • Share specific observations: Instead of making broad accusations, provide particular instances that have raised concerns. 
  • Listen actively: Encourage your loved one to share their perspective and feelings. 
  • Educate yourself: Before the conversation, educate yourself about alcohol use and its potential impact on physical and mental health. 
  • Avoid ultimatums: Ultimatums can backfire and lead to defensiveness. Instead, express your feelings and intentions for their well-being. 
  • Offer support: Let your loved one know they are not alone in facing this challenge. Offer to help them explore treatment options, attend support groups together, or seek professional advice. Reinforce that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 
  • Encourage seeking professional help. 

Empower Health Group Is Ready to Help 

Empower Health Group, located in downtown Northampton, MA, is a sanctuary of empathy and comprehensive care for individuals struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health issues. Our fully equipped facility is committed to providing personalized day treatment programs that address the unique needs and goals of each person we serve. Our holistic approach integrates medical, therapeutic, and psychological interventions, including individual and group therapy, medication management, psychoeducation, and relapse prevention training, all delivered within a compassionate, judgment-free atmosphere. We’re not just a treatment center but your devoted ally, helping you grow stronger and build resilience during every step of your recovery journey. Please contact one of our Recovery Specialists if we can help you. 

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