National Cancer Prevention Month

                                                                           Christina Falahee                                                                                           Wellness Coordinator


February is National Cancer Prevention Month. Most of us know someone or have been personally affected by cancer and know how terrible of disease it is. Educating yourself and your loved ones of the preventable actions you can take to lower the risk of developing cancer is very important.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has found that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed and nearly half of all deaths from cancer in the United States can be attributes to preventable causes such as lack of physical activity, excess body weight, excessive exposure to the sun and smoking.

Below are seven cancer prevention recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research:

  1. Be a Healthy Weight                                                                                  Next to not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer. Aim to be at the lower end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range. Body Fat releases insulin, estrogen and other hormones into the bloodstream, which can spur cancer growth.
  1. Be Physically Active                                                                                    Physical activity in any form helps to lower cancer risk. Work toward achieving 45 to 60 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity daily.
  1. Eating a Diet Rich in Whole Grains, Vegetables, Fruits and Beans  Plant based foods which contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and other substance that can help protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.
  1. Limit Consumption of Fast Foods and Other Processed Foods High in Fat, Starches or Sugars                                                                Limiting these foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.
  1. Limit Consumption of Red and Processed Meat                                  Eat no more than moderate amounts of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb. Eat little, if any, processed meat.
  1. Limit Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Drinks                              Drink mostly water and unsweetened drinks.
  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption                                                                        Limit your consumption to one drink for women and two for men per day.

 

 

Top 5 Programming Ideas for Heart Health Month

                                                                          Toni Sperlbaum                                                                                           VP of Sales and Marketing


The American Heart Association (AHA) states that 1 in 3 women will die from a heart related incident.  They also are 11% less likely to receive bystander CPR than their male counterparts.  February is Heart Health Month, with “Go Red For Women” being the AHA’s movement to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

February’s focus provides a great opportunity for organizations to promote heart health to both their male and female employees. There are MANY ways for you to do this, most free or low cost. Here are our top 3

  1. Promote and Celebrate National Go Red for Women Day (Friday, February 1)
    Have a photo contest and encourage your staff to wear red! You can even have awards for best red accessories, most red overall, best decorated workspace, and more.  Don’t forget to post your #GoRed photos on your organization’s social media pages and @Health Plan Advocate. We will feature your organization on our sites too!  What a FUN way to show your customers and employees your commitment to wellness.
  2. Host a Lunch & Learn on Heart Disease
    There are many organizations (HPA included!) who can do an educational seminar on preventing heart disease and learning the signs of a heart attack. There are also a variety of CPR and AED classes available through organizations like The American Red Cross that could save a life.  Also consider hosting free and open blood pressure checks for your employees.  Education is essential!
  3. Host a Heart Healthy Potluck:
    Red foods, healthy foods, sugar free beverages and healthier desserts. Decorate the table with hearts and don’t forget the red plates and cups!  The AHA’s Heart Check Recipe Guidelines would be perfect to send out as a guide for what is considered healthy.
  4. Heart Healthy Testimonials:
    Do a call for testimonials from your workforce. Is anyone a heart disease survivor who is willing to tell their story? Celebrate their life!  Has anyone made heart healthy changes? Lost weight, stopped smoking, ran a race, or similar?  Feature them!  We learn best from others’ experiences and we get inspired by their successes.  Feature these stories in a newsletter, on your intranet, on a cork board in the break room, an Eboard, etc.  Better yet, if your CEO or executive and middle leaders have stories, focus on them.  Middle and upper management’s involvement in wellness is essential to your program’s success.  You can even have a photo contest of their heart healthy activities!
  5. Heart Healthy Scavenger Hunt:
    Around the lunch hour, come up with a quiz of 10 questions and post the answers somewhere throughout your facility so they have to walk around and search for the answers to your quiz, while getting some steps in! The quiz can consist of questions like “#1. What is a healthy blood pressure level?” and they have to find the “#1” posted on a wall or on the floor somewhere with the answer of “<120/80”. You can find more helpful stats here.

Take advantage of the opportunity (you have ALL of February to do it!). Just a little bit of planning ahead can get your employees excited and having FUN all while learning and bringing awareness to the dangers of heart disease.

 

 

January: National Blood Donor Month

Todd Freitag                                                                                     Sales/Wellness Coordinator


January is national Blood Donor Month, and it just so happens to be the time of the year we give blood less. Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately after the winter holidays, which makes January a critical time for the American Red Cross. The Red Cross needs to collect more than 13,000 donations every day to keep the blood supply ready and available to meet the needs of about 2,600 hospitals, clinics and cancer centers across the country.

National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the holidays and the end of the year, we all become overwhelmed with holiday parties, visiting friends, shopping, wrapping up end of the year deadlines and personal goals; not allowing time to donate. Not only do busy schedules play a role, but Mother Nature herself can wreak havoc on times of donation, forcing cancellations of many blood drives. We like to think that during the holidays, we are all taking breaks to relax and unwind, but those in need of blood and platelet donations are in need no matter what time of year.

Every two seconds of every day, someone needs blood. The reason to donate is simple…it helps save lives. Blood is essential to life for several important reasons including the fact that blood circulates through our body and delivers essential substances like oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. It also transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. But did you know that donating blood has it’s health benefits for the donor?

  • Blood donation helps in lowering the risk of cancer. By donating blood the iron stores in the body are maintained at healthy levels. A reduction in the iron level in the body is linked with low cancer risk.
  • Reduced risk of hemochromatosis; a health condition that arises due to excess absorption of iron by the body. This may be inherited or may be caused due to alcoholism, anemia or other disorders. Regular blood donation may help in reducing iron overload.
  • Regular blood donation reduces the weight of the donors. This is helpful to those who are obese and are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health disorders.
  • After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and in turn, helps in maintaining good health.

Before you donate, a health professional will ask about your current and past health, including some very personal questions, to make sure that you can donate. You will be asked these questions every time you give blood, because the list of who can give blood may change, or your health may change. Having a long-term illness, such as diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t donate. You may be able to give blood if your health problem is under control. But you shouldn’t donate blood if you feel like you’re getting a cold or the flu.

The Increasing Cost Of Diabetes In America

                                  Emily Zoeller, EP-C,CHWC                                      Wellness Coordinator & Health Coach

Diabetes – it affects more than 30 million people in America, with 84 million additional people who are prediabetic. This is a costly problem that is growing at an alarming rate. From 2012 to 2017, the cost per year for a diagnosed diabetic in America rose, about 133.5% rise in cost over the 5 years.

Not only is it expensive for the person diagnosed with the condition, but also for the insurance plan, and costly on the person health. For those with Diabetes, they cost the insurance plan 2.3 times more than someone without diabetes.

Even though costs have risen for this disease it itself, there is also other factors to consider – Associated conditions like neuropathy, amputation, liver disease, vision issues, and more.

In 2017, 4,110 people a day were diagnosed with Diabetes, and watching your diet and exercise can significantly help to avoid prediabetes, and therefore diabetes. So, what can be done to help now?

Physical Activity: Get out and get active! Haven’t exercised in a while? Some exercise is better than none. Start small, gradually working your way up in time and intensity.

Be Mindful of your Nutrition: Watching your sugar and carbohydrate intake. Watching your daily intake of sugar can be harder than you think. When looking at nutrition labels, use this tip to get some perspective: for every 4g of sugar in a product, that will be one teaspoon of sugar. Try switching out simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates.

Know Your Numbers: Stay connected with your physician. Having a relationship with your physician can be very important. Knowing your Glucose and A1C values are essential.

5 Ways to Get Active This Summer

 



Rachel Lawton
Spring/Summer Wellness Intern

If you’re stuck in a rut with the same old workout routine or lacking the motivation to even workout in the first place, maybe it’s time to try something new! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends healthy adults get around 150 minutes of physical activity per week. But, here’s the good news: this does not have to mean spending 150 minutes in the gym! The daylight lasts longer in the summer and the weather is beautiful, so why not take advantage and enjoy the outdoors while simultaneously improving your health? Here are a few non-traditional ways to get those active minutes in by yourself or with family & friends!​​ 

  • Spend a weekend camping – incorporate in physical activities while you’re there. Swimming, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, or biking are all great forms of exercise!​​ 

  • Go to the beach! For people who enjoy walking or running, adding the uneven surface and consistency of the sand is a great way to tax new muscles and add a challenge to your regular routine. Bonus… a beautiful view.

  • Try a new sport like FootGolf – a combination of soccer and golf, this is played at a golf course facility on shortened holes with larger cups. ​​ The rules largely correspond to the rules of golf. ​​ You may be surprised that there are likely FootGolf courses in your area. Check out this video to see more! ​​ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eeNeo5wVF8​​ 

  • Spend a day around the house– Now this may not be the MOST fun option on the list, but you’re getting a two for one with the tasks you’ll checked off your list​​ at the end of your “workout”. Mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, washing the car, and vacuuming the house is enough to keep you up and moving for hours!​​ 

  • Try a new class! Look around your community. ​​ There are tons of summer programs, punch cards, or drop-in classes available. Everything from yoga, to boot camps, to dance, to recreational sports leagues. If you time it right, you may even be able to find some free options.​​ 

  • Visit an amusement park, the zoo, or the mall – You’ve never thought of this as exercise, but the large majority of the day is spent up on your feet!

Why is Physical Activity So Important?​​ 

Physical activity has an endless list of benefits. ​​ According to the Department of Health and Human Services, here are some of the biggest rewards you gain from being active:

  • Fight weight gain and obesity: obesity currently affects approximately 33% of all US adults and has a strong correlation with Type 2 diabetes

  • Disease prevention: physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer (the 3 leading health-related causes of death in the US)

  • Building overall strength and endurance: this one speaks for itself

  • Injury prevention: exercise helps to build bone, muscle, and joint strength which in turn lowers our risk of falls and other injury

  • Improved sleep: expending extra energy during the day can help you to be more tired when bedtime rolls around, promoting a better night’s sleep

  • Stress relief: working up a sweat can be a great way to let go of some of your daily stresses. If high intensity isn’t your style, many people find stretching or yoga to be a great relaxation technique as well

  • Increased energy: endorphins released during exercise tend to boost our mood and energy levels

  • Improved self-confidence: better mood and energy = higher self-esteem and more confidence!

  • Increased life expectancy: with all of these combined benefits, our life expectancy tends to rise with better health

Keeping all of this in mind, make it your goal this summer to get outside,​​ try something new, & get moving! Your body will thank you!

July is UV Awareness Month



Kenzie Opel
Spring/Summer Wellness Intern

Summer is the perfect time to talk about UV Safety. With all the time spent outdoors in the summer, how do we ensure we are keeping ourselves safe from UV radiation?​​ 

UV radiation is emitted from the sun as both UV-A and UV-B​​ rays.​​ UV rays only make up a small part of the sun’s rays, but they are the rays that cause the most damage.​​ UV-A rays are compiled of longer wavelengths that can reach to the middle layer of your skin whereas UV-B rays are shorter wavelengths that only reach the outer layer of your skin.​​ It is important to learn the risks associated with these rays to be able to take the proper precautions to protect​​ one self.​​ 

The harmful risks?

  • Cause vision problems, damages your eyes

  • Suppresses the immune system​​ 

  • Causes premature aging of the skin

  • Skin cancer! (Most common type of cancer)​​ 

Factors that affect the strength?​​ 

The American Heart Association states that the strength of UV rays are based on many factors. The time of day changes how strong the rays are. They are most damaging between 10am to 4pm. The season of the year can also affect this. The spring to summer months are when the rays are the strongest. ​​ July is represented as UV safety​​ month because it is right at the time when the​​ sun is​​ at its​​ all-time​​ high. The further you are from the equator means the less​​ exposure​​ there is. A higher altitude means​​ the more UV rays that can touch down to the ground. Cloud cover varies the exposure because sometimes it blocks the exposure and sometimes it causes the rays to be reflected. It is a good rule of thumb to take backup precautions on cloudy days.​​ It is important to keep these ideas in mind when deciding what precautions to take.

Precautions?

  • Cover up:​​ Be sure to cover your face with a hat or sunglasses. You can even wear long sleeve shirts, pants, etc. to hide your skin from the sun.​​ 

  • Stay in the shade:​​ It is recommended to spend more time in the shade between 10am and 4pm because this is when the sun is at its strongest. Even on cloudy days, the sun can still be harmful to your skin so it is important to take other precautions as well.​​ 

  • Choose the right sunscreen:​​ SPF stands for sun protection factor. This is required by the FDA to be shown on the label. It is recommended to use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays. ​​ 

  • Use the right amount of sunscreen:​​ Many people don’t use the proper amount of sunscreen when applying throughout the day. It is recommended to apply one oz of sunscreen every two hours. They even suggest more frequently if you are sweating or spending time in the water.​​ 

Remember to be safe as you take in the rays and be sure to protect your skin and eyes from the damage.​​ You can learn more about how to keep yourself safe from UV radiation in the summer months at​​ https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun.html. The American Cancer Association offers plenty of tips and steps to take to protect yourself as well as information on the connection to health risks.​​ 

 

Wellness Committee Best Practices

                                                                                  Toni Sperlbaum                                                                                           VP of Sales and Marketing


Whether your wellness program is in its infancy or has been around for a while, The Institute for Health and Productivity Studies has determined that there are three primary best practices to be successful; leadership support/promotion, devoting sufficient resources to health promotion efforts, and a wellness committee.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Culture eats strategy for lunch”?  We as HR professionals can strategize the “best wellness program” all day long, but if your culture is directly interfering with your wellness efforts (your manager rolls their eyes when you leave to do your biometric health screening, walking or stretch breaks are considered you skimping out on your job, the organization celebrates “Donut Friday” every week, etc.), then the strategy means nothing.  A wellness committee is going to be the accountability point for your strategic plan and will be the grassroots effort to changing that culture.

The role of a wellness committee is to communicate, participate in, motivate, and support the organization’s worksite wellness program.  They will foster collaboration and enthusiasm among employees, provide a link between employees and management, represent and share co-workers’ ideas and concerns, encourage a positive work environment, and can reshape the company’s culture to promote healthy living.

What are the best practices?

  • Meet regularly (every other month or quarterly)
  • Call for new members annually
  • Set terms on your committee to continue getting fresh ideas
  • Get a good cross section of representatives, considering gender, age, type of departments/workers, management types, etc.
  • Don’t get all of your runners and skinniest people on the committee. This is so important!  It’s easy to think “they are a runner, they should be on the committee!” The truth is, unhealthy employees can relate to the unhealthiest representatives and that is exactly the kind of traction we are looking to get
  • Set committee procedures – have a formal agenda, create minutes, nominate a chair
  • Set ground rules – be prompt and courteous to others’ ideas, establish “voting” to determine which ideas get implemented, protect employee confidentiality when sharing ideas/concerns, and follow through on promises and commitments made.
  • Have the committee (not HR) develop the strategic plan, a mission statement, and a vision for the program. The mission statement is there to guide activity planning and facilitate smart spending (your CFO will love that).  If the activities do not directly impact the mission statement, it is not carried out.
  • HR should not be involved in this committee. It should be employee run for the most effective results (although holding the chair accountable through one-on-one touch-bases is absolutely acceptable and encouraged).

Other ideas for committees

  • Have your CEO put out a letter or video charging the organization to make wellness a priority, and invite members to join the committee. This will very boldly give permission.
  • Have supervisors nominate their employees. This gets supervisors involved, giving permission for their employee’s participation, and give them the chance to recognize the employees by nominating them for a special project
  • Have an application process for interested employees. This lets members know what they’re in for and committing to.
  • Host an awards luncheon at the end of the year. Give awards to committee members or wellness champions for highest personal participation in activities, the highest group participation in screenings/HRAs, the most additional programs implemented, and many others!  Invite supervisors, senior leadership, and even family members would be great recognition for the employee.

There are many ways to utilize a wellness committee, but if you have many of the above processes in place, your committee is off to a GREAT start!

How Employers Destroy Their Own Wellness Vision

Toni Sperlbaum                  VP of Sales and Marketing

As a wellness provider, we speak to companies about their wellness programs and making it the best and most effective it can be.  We talk about biometric health screenings for measurable data, health coaching for lifestyle change motivation, and programs like challenges and classes to educate and bring some fun and culture into their work environments.  Companies are desperate for their employees to make lifestyle changes, but they may be “shooting themselves in the foot”, for lack of a better metaphor.  Even with their desires for healthy employees and lower health care costs, I can’t tell you how many times we walk into a wellness meeting where pizza is being served, or you walk through the break room to find “Free Donut Friday”.

I want to preface this topic by saying that some of our readers are our clients, and you may feel like I’m referring to you – but we’ve likely already had the conversation before, and if we haven’t, then you’ve kept your tasty treats a good secret from your wellness provider!  My teasing is all in good fun, but there is some truth and seriousness to this topic where employers do need to re-evaluate their situations and realize Free Donut Friday is a direct mixed message to your employees and a huge step back from what you are trying to accomplish.

The most common “excuses” I hear from employers are:

  • It’s an additional benefit for employees that gets them excited – we want to do something special for them
  • Our staff would throw a fit if we got rid of Free Donut Friday – we’ve been doing it for 10 years!
  • There’s one HR employee who organizes this, or buys these on her own dime, and she would be so offended if we tried canceling it
  • Our employees don’t do well with change – there would be a revolution!

Some of these are a little silly, but they are real concerns and real reasons coming from employers.
What we typically try to preach to our employers is this:

Employees are all adults who can make their own choices, and we never encourage any organization to become wellness communists who take over the vending machines, replace all donut Fridays with apples only, or remove any of the “fun” of Free Donut Fridays altogether.  The main goal of employers should be to remove the barriers.  Provide the choice.  When only pizza is available, they are guaranteed to have the pizza (unless they have the willpower to forgo).  If you provide a variety of wraps, a side of fresh fruit or salad, AND pizza, at least they now have the option to make the healthier choice and you, as an employer, have removed the barrier.

Here are some other things you can do to change your culture:

  • Write a formal policy (or informal policy) that any organization-sponsored meeting must provide a healthy option, and you can even go as far as creating a “menu” or “list” of ideas for what constitutes as a healthy option (see if your wellness vendor will help you with that!)
  • Develop a wellness committee. Even if you meet only 4 times a year, this committee will be a grassroots group of employees who will be the first ones to say “you’re making us do this health screening, you’re asking us to do health coaching and participate in this 5K, but feeding us bagels and hot cocoa every Tuesday? Something is not adding up.” They also will be your eyes and ears “in the field” to see what the true feelings and reactions of your employees are and come with ideas on how to best address.
  • Talk about it! Discussing at employee meetings will at least address the elephant in the room, and while discussing it may drum up some push back, take the opportunity to provide your reasoning and remind them what the company’s goals are for a healthier workforce. Communication and transparency is always key in helping everyone understand the overall goal.
  • Get your middle management on board. Have a meeting or even a special workshop where management can be involved in developing the policy or coming up with a list of healthy choices. Their buy in is essential because if your managers are the ones griping about the changes, your employee reactions are inherently pre-determined.
  • Develop a “healthy catering partners” list and post on an intranet or break room. When employees or managers are catering in, or just ordering in, they have a place to go to see the local healthy resources, how to order, and what the healthiest options on the menu are.

It’s a simple change that will send a loud and clear message, one that is consistent with your organization’s other efforts.

 

April is National Autism Awareness Month

 

         Jamal Mack  Wellness Coordinator

Charles Darwin, Dan Aykroyd, Mozart, all these individuals are notable names in history due to their accomplishments in life. They all are famous, adored by their fans and peers, and all suffer from the same condition that affects 1 in 68 American children. They all have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that leads to difficulty with social interactions and communications. It is often characterized by a child’s non-interest or difficulty with social interactions, restricted interest, and repetitive behaviors. Unfortunately, we have found neither cause or cure for this disorder but we are narrowing down risk factors to things such as: having a sibling with ASD, having older parents, very low birth weight, and certain genetic predispositions (Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome).  These risk factors have given us insight on diagnosing ASD over the years and now we have a two stage diagnosing process which consist of a general developmental screening and a second more in depth screening should the child display any symptoms in stage one. The second screening process is conducted with at least 4 different child specialists such as a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, a neuropsychologist, and speech language pathologist. All these professionals collaborate with their results to paint the most accurate picture of diagnosis for the child so they may get the most effective treatments.

Treatment for ASD usually begins as soon as possible after diagnosis with the primary form being behavioral, psychological, and educational therapy. If symptoms are severe enough, medications will be prescribed. Research has found that the best way to treat is a combination of medication and these therapies. The therapies focus on reducing challenging behaviors, increasing strengths, learning social, communication, language skills, and life-skills necessary for independent living.  Depending on severity of the condition with proper treatment people with ASD can still be functional adults and not just independent but thriving productive citizens, much like the examples I stated in the beginning.

Thought to be a child’s disorder, over the last 30 years we have begun to diagnose adults as well. Adults can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms sometimes overlap with other symptoms of mental health disorder such as anxiety or attention deficit disorder. As an adult receiving a correct diagnosis can be very helpful by giving closure to past difficulties, identify their strengths and obtain the RIGHT kind of help.

Communicating with a person with ASD may be difficult at times and may be frustrating but I encourage you seek more information about it by visiting the Autism society website at https://www.autism-society.org/ . On the website there are many different resources to give you more insight into the disorder and there is even a page that gives you information on Autism awareness events that are going on in your area so YOU can get involved and make a difference. Together, we can bring some order to world of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

https://www.autism-society.org/get-involved/donate/

 

April Alcohol Awareness Month!

What is alcohol? Where does it come from?

Alcohol is a pure, colorless, odorless and flammable liquid that comes from fruits and grains such as potatoes, wheat, and barley.

Alcohol is a legal substance that is considered a depressant, which means it slows body function down. One to two drinks may make you feel relaxed, but three or more may severally impair brain and motor function.

Short-term effects?

There are several factors that determine how quickly the consumption of alcohol will affect your body. Those include; how much is consumed over what period of time, your weight, sex and body fat percentage, and whether or not you have eaten.

Signs of intoxication can include:
Slurred speech, clumsiness, drowsiness, vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness and lapses in memory.

The stomach absorbs 20% of alcohol, the small intestine removes almost 70%, and the other 5% is removed through the lungs, kidneys and skin. The liver removes whatever is left, at a rate of about one drink per hour. It may take the body 2 to 3 hours to fully metabolize alcohol from one to two drinks, and up to 24 hours to process alcohol from eight to ten drinks.

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the amount of alcohol in the blood stream, in which you can legally operate a motor vehicle is .08%

The fatigue you may feel the day after a night of heavy drinking is called a “hangover”. These occur because alcohol is toxic to the body and your body is still working to remove all of the toxin. The symptoms of a hangover are caused by dehydration, but sugary drinks can make these symptoms worse. The symptoms can include; headache, diarrhea, racing heart, dry mouth and eyes, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and nausea/vomiting. A hangover can last up to 24 hours, and doctors advise not to drink again within 48 hours to allow to body to recover.
When the amount of alcohol in your blood streams exceeds a certain level it can lead to alcohol poisoning. Signs of alcohol poisoning can include confusion, seizures, slow breathing, and blue tint to the skin, low body temperature and loss of consciousness. It is important to be aware of these signs because if the BAC becomes higher than 0.4% there is a 50% chance of death.
Some people may experience an alcohol intolerance which means after just one drink they can become flushed, have diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. If you suddenly develop an intolerance to alcohol it can be a sign of Hodgkin lymphoma, in which you are advised to see a doctor.
Combining alcohol with any other depressants can be seriously dangerous, those can include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety and sleeping medications. This combination will have serious effects on your respiratory and central nervous system.

Long- term effects?

While drinking is a common social activity, drinking in access can have many negative long-term effects on the body.

According to the CDC, alcohol abuse contributes to over 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions. Including, dependence and addiction, liver cirrhosis and failure, cancers, and unintentional injuries. Around 88,000 people die in the United States every year from alcohol related causes, which makes it the third leading cause of preventable death.
Because alcohol affects every body system it can cause systemic health problems. Those include; liver disease, damage to the heart, stomach ulcers, cancer, brain and nerve damage, depression and anxiety, and even vitamin deficiencies.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, up to 40% of the hospital beds in the United States are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition that affects many people, but in recent years a growing percentage of adolescents. Research suggests 20% of college aged students would be considered alcohol misusers. Binge drinking plays a large role in this statistic. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for a man and four or more drinks for a woman within two hours.

The most notable of long-term effects is addiction and withdrawal. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. After a period of time of consuming large amounts of alcohol and on a regular basis you can become dependent on the drug. Alcohol addiction is a strong craving for alcohol and continued use even after the negative affect on health, interpersonal relationships and ability to work.

Treatment for alcohol dependency and misuse can include group and individual counseling, medication, inpatient detoxification programs and most common Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12 step program that aims to help anyone and everyone with a drinking problem. Information for the local Grand Rapids chapter of AA can be found at: http://www.grandrapidsaa.org/

Treatment plans are not one size fits all, so if you suspect you or a family member may abuse alcohol suggest reaching out to a physician or calling the listed contacts for help.

Contacts for Help: Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 1-800-527-5344
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. 1-800-622-2255