Alcohol – The Nurse Killer?

While nursing is both rich and rewarding, there are probably times when you also find it overwhelming and stressful. So, it makes sense for those in the nursing industry to want to let their hair down and celebrate freedom from work. Especially for younger nurses, going out and enjoying alcohol-fueled activities is a popular way to celebrate a night off from work.

Technically, one night with a little bit of drinking isn’t going to do you much harm. However, sometimes, a night on the town after working a 60 to 80-hour week doesn’t stop at a few drinks. This is especially true for anyone who thinks knocking back a few cold ones is a great stress reliever. You come home after standing on your feet for 10 to 12 hours and throw back a enjoy a few beers just to chill yourself out. Regular consumption of alcohol that you use to relax and unwind can slowly kill you. While this is something you should know because you work in the medical industry, most just don’t give it any thought. In fact, most think they have it under control.

Serious Health Problems
While a bit of drinking here or there seems like no big deal, it slowly wreaks havoc on your entire body. For some people, alcohol does not directly cause the issues. It acts as a catalyst to make health problems you already have much worse. According to the NIAAA, alcohol-related deaths hold the title of the fourth most preventable cause of death in the United States, with an estimated 88,000 people dying per year. So, before you take that next sip of booze, you should take a moment to think about just what it is you put in your body every time you take a drink. There are tons of healthier ways to relax and unwind.

Anemia
The more you drink, the more your count of red blood cells that carry oxygen drops. In time, the count becomes abnormally low, and you can develop a condition called anemia. A person with anemia experiences shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Cancer
Did you know habitual drinking increases your risk of cancer? Cancer sites linked to the regular consumption of alcohol include the throat, voice box, mouth, liver, breast, and esophagus. Statistically, drinking puts you at a higher risk of cancer than smoking tobacco.

Cardiovascular Disease
When you binge drink, your platelets like to stick together and form blood clots. This can result in both strokes and heart attacks. Statistically, someone who drinks has a higher risk of dying from a heart attack than someone who doesn’t drink.  

This list only begins to scratch the surface of the health risks you face every time you decide to take a drink. Other health problems for you to worry about include liver disease, pancreatitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, ulcers, brain damage, vitamin deficiencies, and osteoporosis.

High-Functioning Alcoholics Exist, And You Might Be One of Them
When you hear the word “alcoholic,” you picture a slobbering drunk who can’t walk a straight line and won’t stop hiccupping. Because you may not meet this description, you probably don’t consider yourself an alcoholic. Unfortunately, denial is part of the disease. Statistically, there are five different types of alcoholics:

  • Young Adult (30 percent)
  • Young Anti-Social (21 percent)
  • Functional (20 percent)
  • Middle-aged with a Mental Illness (19 percent)
  • Chronic (9 percent)

As a nurse, you fall into that 20 percent. You still function well enough to perform your duties as a nurse and society depends on you, but the consumption of alcohol still slowly takes a toll on your body.

More importantly, the bigger issue is the fact that high-functioning alcoholics usually do not realize they are alcoholics. Because you can continue to function at life and at work, you do not think you have a problem. So, you never seek help for your alcoholism until it becomes an unrepairable problem. Just remember, no one is perfect. Admitting you have a problem and need help breaking your alcohol habit doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Healthy Ways for a Nurse to Relax and Unwind
After a long shift or a long work week, you deserve to relax and unwind. You just need to find a way to relax and unwind without the consumption of alcohol. Fortunately, there are a lot of healthy choices for you to consider.

Pamper Yourself
Apply a face mask, take a relaxing soak in the tub, and break out that foot bath massager you tucked away in your closet. If you have some extra cash, consider treating yourself to a nice spa day. If a spa day isn’t really your thing, consider going to the movies or a fancy restaurant.

Sleep
One of the biggest downfalls of working in the medical industry is the lack of sleep. If what you really need is sleep, consider buying yourself a nice new pillow or blanket. You work a lot of long and hard hours, and there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a little treat. Listen to a stress-reducing playlist to help relax your mind while you are sleeping to achieve a deeper sleep.

Talk to Someone
Pick up that phone and give a friend or family member a call. If you have the option to FaceTime or video chat, you should do that instead. Chances are good that there is someone in your life you need to catch up with anyway. The conversation is a great time to vent about your day as well.

Alcohol-Based Statistics Are Scary – Don’t Become One of Them
As mentioned previously, more than 80,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths. Here are a few other scary alcohol related statistics:

  • Six people die from alcohol poisoning each day
  • Drunk driving accounts for 30 percent of all driving-related fatalities
  • Over 15 million people just in the United States struggle with alcohol addiction
  • Less than eight percent of individuals who struggle with alcohol addiction seek treatment
  • Just shy of 5,000 teenagers die in alcohol-related deaths every year

The statistics surrounding the consumption and addiction of alcohol are scary. It starts as one drink to unwind after a long shift or work week and quickly turns into a problem you can’t shake. Stay away from alcohol and find other ways to unwind. Don’t let alcohol take a toll on your health.

 

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Scrubs Staff


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