Individuals who on a regular basis drink heavily may be at a higher risk for certain types of diseases than moderate drinkers. Although some people have been able to abstain from alcohol due to adverse health problems they are currently experiencing, some heavy drinkers cannot reduce their alcohol consumption regardless of the expected adverse effects. Those individuals may want to consider alcohol rehab if they want to substantially reduce their risk for heart disease, hypertension and other chronic health problems. In an alternative to the 12 step program, evidence based addiction treatment is available to help individuals solve underlying issues that may have been the cause for their drug and alcohol abuse. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the approaches used where people use talk therapy to solve problems through a goal oriented approach.
Some previous research has suggested that regular, moderate alcohol consumption may offer protection against heart disease. Previous research has also found that heavy drinking increases the risk of hypertension and several other chronic health problems, and that alcohol rehab decreases the risk of hypertension and other diseases. Researchers at the Alcohol Research Group examined relationships between life-course drinking patterns and risks of self-reported diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension (Kerr & Ye, 2010).
Participants included respondents to the 2005 National Alcohol Survey who were 40 and older and reported a diagnosis of diabetes, heart problems, or hypertension. Earlier life drinking patterns were examined in terms of lifetime abstinence and frequency of drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages in a day in the participant’s teens, 20s, and 30s. Past-year drinking patterns were measured in terms of intake volume as well as frequency of days in which 5 or more drinks were consumed. The researchers controlled for potential confounders, including demographics, socioeconomic resources, and health-risk variables such as depression, distress, body mass index, tobacco use, marijuana use, childhood abuse, and family history of alcohol problems.
Results showed that lifetime abstainers were found to be at increased risk of diabetes compared to both lifetime and moderate drinkers. Ex-drinkers showed increased risk of diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension. High volume drinkers who did not consume 5 or more drinks on one occasion monthly were found to have reduced risk of diabetes compared to moderate volume drinkers. Heavy-occasion drinkers were found to have a higher risk of hypertension.
“Regular lower quantity alcohol intake may be protective against adult onset of diabetes, but no evidence of protection from heart problems or hypertension was found,” the researchers concluded. “Both life course-defined and past year-defined drinking groups exhibit substantial clustering of confounding risk variables, indicating the need for modeling strategies like propensity-score matching. Increased risks among ex-drinkers suggest a substantial ‘sick-quitter’ effect.” Part of the “sick quitter” effect may be explained by the fact that many people who decide to quit do so because they are already experiencing adverse health effects due to drinking. Moderate drinking may offer some protective effects, but any level of alcohol consumption beyond moderate will increase risks for several diseases.
Kerr WC, Ye Y. Relationship of life-course drinking patterns to diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension among those 40 and older in the 2005 U.S. national alcohol survey. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2010; 71(4): 515-525.