People know that drinking alcohol damages your health, but there is often a misconception of what constitutes heavy drinking. By definition, heavy drinking is only two or more alcoholic drinks a day for a woman and three or more alcoholic drinks a day for a man.
“People may be surprised and think that’s low risk drinking, but that’s considered heavy drinking and it’s that heavy consistent drinking over time that increases your chances for these serious heart diseases and injuries,” said Kimberly Sacco, a chemical dependency therapist in Central New York.
Seven percent of adults in Central New York are heavy drinkers. That is higher than the state average. And the heavy drinking is not just damaging physical health, it is damaging economic health. Alcohol-related health care costs local, state and federal government more than $144 billion dollars in 2005, the most recent year with available data.
“It’s really the treatment. And it’s the injuries, the loss of materials, cars, life, all of that tragedy that goes along with alcohol abuse. There’s very little spent on prevention. It was mostly cleaning up the mess,” said Mary Beth McCall, M.D., the Chief Medical Officer of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.