Hi beer drinkers! You may think that your poison pick is a safe bet in terms of health and sobriety, but there is more than meets the eye.

Historically, beer and beer brewing goes back thousands of years. Archaeologists have discovered images and ruins in Egypt depicting beer as “beer of truth” and “beer of eternity.” Brewing barley dates back to the Babylonians and is still the world’s most valued brewing ingredient.

Throughout the ages, beer was even a type of currency, a worthy item to barter with and was even used as an incentive to slaves building the great pyramids. In ancient times, beer was a form of currency, used for barter. Later during the 14th century, Bavarian monks would take to brewing lager beer. Then, in 1620, Puritans would regulate daily beer consumption, but it was a different time. Waste management wasn’t yet at a good level, so instead of drinking contaminated water, people drank beer.

Back then, drinking and driving did not exist. Life spans were shorter and overdrinking often resulted in falling off a horse on the way home. There were no police to reinforce nonexistent drinking laws or police BAC levels.

Many people believe beer carries less risk than liquor, but beer presents special concerns of its own. In the mean old Egyptian slave days, steins filled with cold beer did not exist; the happy Bud man was nowhere around wheeling beer barrels in for the lunch crowd. No booming oom-pah-pah bands were playing to happy and not so happy drinkers. In ancient times, cars did not exist. Today, beer drinkers tend to drink more alcohol in a shorter time and reach higher BAC levels than do wine or cocktail drinkers. Beer drinkers are also more likely to drive while “slightly intoxicated.”

Today, beer drinkers have a higher DUI rate and more DUI crashes than other drinkers. Beer is the alcoholic beverage most frequently consumed before drinking/driving crashes.

For example: the standard measure for a drink is .5 ounce of pure alcohol. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, a four-ounce glass of wine (at 12 percent alcohol), or one ounce of 100 proof distilled spirits (whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, tequila). Each of these drinks contains the same amount of alcohol and the same kind of alcohol. Each drink is standardized to .5 ounce of pure alcohol because that is the average amount of alcohol that the average person can metabolize in one hour. The range of metabolism is from .25 ounce to one ounce per hour, depending on the person. People who drink one beer fast will be more impaired than people who drink on beer or one glass of wine slowly.

However, whether you drink beer, wine or liquor, the health consequences can be grave. Drinkers experience alcohol impairment, which develop quickly since alcohol is a nervous system depressant that slows bodily functions. Impairment problems include impaired driving, violence, falls, and general injuries. Frequent drinking can also lead to health issues like heart disease, liver disease, cancers and other illnesses over time.

In the short-term binge drinking, or the over consumption of alcohol, can quickly turn to dangerous levels of alcohol poisoning. Women, due to body chemistry, are at a higher risk for poisoning on smaller doses of alcohol.

Another factor to consider is alcoholism and the genetic predisposition one has for lifestyle-related health problems. For many, drinking is a risky activity that can affect not only their own health and safety, but those of others.

As you plan your holiday festivities and social gatherings, know that you have a choice to make. You can choose to drink the chosen elixir of Egyptian pharaohs (beer), wine, or liquor, but make sure to do it responsibly or choose not to drink at all. Taking charge of your alcohol habit is one of the most important decisions you will ever make for yourself and those around you.

Arrive alive. Be smart. Use a designated driver and don’t drink and drive. The choice is yours. Have a safe holiday season.

For more information and resources on substance and alcohol abuse, visit Military One Source.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hilary Valdez is a freelancer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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