Drinking People Image

Drinking? Here’s How to Get Home Safely

The holidays are upon us. It’s a time of year when we tend to overindulge. We eat too much, and similarly, we are prone to drink too much.

New Year’s Day is the most dangerous holiday for drunk driving per data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drunk driving-related deaths spike 116% above the average.

Drinking Couple Image

Incorrect Assumptions

Too many people believe — incorrectly — that it takes longer for alcohol to impair them than it does. During the holidays, those beliefs can prove fatal. Critical decision-making abilities and motor skills begin diminishing with the first drink, before outward signs of intoxication appear, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The initial effects of drinking can lead to more drinking. As more alcohol is consumed, reaction times get longer, and behavior becomes poorly controlled.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

BAC tracks your level of intoxication and is measured against both medical and legal baselines. For a man weighing 150 pounds, mild impairment occurs after just two drinks over the course of one hour. For a 100-pound man, two drinks would mean a BAC of 0.08% and increased impairment. By three drinks, significant impairment is present.

According to the National Institutes of Health, here’s how BAC correlates to levels of intoxication:

  • Mild impairment — up to 0.05%
  • Increased impairment — 0.06 to 0.08%
  • Significant impairment — 0.09% to 0.15%
  • Severe impairment — 0.16% to 0.3%
  • Life threatening — 0.31% to 0.45%

People think that all they have to do is stop drinking, eat some food, have some coffee, and they will sober up. That’s not the case. The alcohol remains in the stomach and intestines where it will continue to be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect a person’s sobriety. It takes about two hours for a man’s BAC to return to zero after one drink. After two drinks, it will take between four and six hours.

Taxi Waiting Image

Plan Ahead

  • Hosts
    • Provide a variety of non-alcoholic drinks — sodas, juices, or other liquids. Help your guests balance alcohol consumption with water to stay hydrated.
    • Have healthy snacks — These can help slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
    • Get them home — Be prepared to provide a ride or call a ride service to get guests home safely. You could also let them stay at your place.
    • No underage drinking — That only leads to trouble.
  • Guests
    • Make sure you have a ride home — Either through public transportation, a ride service like Lyft or Uber, or by a designated driver. You can also check if AAA is offering its free Tipsy Tow service for impaired motorists – though keep in mind that there are passenger and range restrictions.

Struggling with Alcoholism?

If you’re struggling with addiction, help is available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services hotline (1-800-662-4357) is a free, confidential referral and information resource. Trained professionals are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. AltaMed can also provide patient referrals to substance abuse treatment agencies. To learn more, call 855-425-1777

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Thanksgiving Image

Help for Eating Healthy Around the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, tempting foods start making their appearance. There are tamales, turkey, ham, and the traditional seasonal goodies we love so much.

Making it harder is the fact that it goes on for weeks. Maintaining healthy eating habits are difficult enough. Now everyone is telling you, “C’mon. It’s just for the holidays.” So before you fill up a plate, consider making a gameplan that will help you feel good long after the decorations come down.

Christmas Cookies Image

Everything In Moderation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some recommendations for not letting the seasonal excitement get the best of you. It all boils down to maintaining healthy eating habits.

  • If you eat foods that are high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars, choose small portions, and only eat them occasionally over the holidays.
  • Start with a portion of your favorite fruits and vegetables first, then add small amounts of less healthy items.
  • Bring your favorite healthy dish to a party or gathering. That way you have at least one healthy item you can enjoy.
  • Make healthier versions of your traditional recipes by using ingredients with less fat and salt.
  • Add salsa or black bean sauce to spice up baked fish or poultry.
  • Consider beans in place of higher-fat meats.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol since those calories add up fast. The average beer has 140 calories, and a five-ounce glass of wine has 100 calories. Too many alcoholic beverages can also lower your instincts and make you likely to snack. Stick to one or two drinks or offer to be the designated driver, so you won’t feel inclined to drink all your calories.
  • Slow down and savor the flavor. Put your fork down while chewing and drink some water between each bite. This will give your body enough time to alert your brain that you’re getting full.
  • Use technology to count calories, track your intake, and even provide guidance on healthy food choices. There are several smartphone apps that can help you manage your diet through the holiday season.
  • Pay attention. Don’t eat while distracted with a game or TV show. It’s likely you will lose track of how much you’ve consumed.

Dietary Consulting Available

You spent a lifetime developing your current eating habits. It will take a while to build some healthier ones. The most important thing is not to beat yourself up over what you consume.

Healthy eating doesn’t need to be hard – especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dietitians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietitian: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

This program is available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

Caffeine Teens

The Good and the Bad of Caffeine for Your Teen

It can be easy to forget that caffeine is a drug. It is specifically a stimulant. Just like other more dangerous stimulants — methamphetamine, cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine — it can be highly addictive.

That caffeine jolt is why some people can’t start their day without that first cup of coffee. They need the caffeine to help “get them going.”

People who try to eliminate caffeine from their routine can find themselves going through withdrawal. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Now, imagine that in your teen.

Marketing caffeinated sodas to adolescents and teens is common practice. Today there are so many more caffeinated options, including sugary coffees and energy drinks. Those may be fine to enjoy occasionally, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

Teenagers Drinking Coffee

What Is the Right Amount?

Numerous factors go into determining the “right” amount of caffeine to consume. Weight and other health conditions are the biggest determinants. Up to 400 milligrams a day — or four cups of brewed coffee — is safe for most healthy adults.

Adolescents aged 12 to 18 should not have more than 100 mg of caffeine a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s a cup of coffee or two to three cans of soda. More than that and you risk:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
Little Girl Drinking Soda While Play Video Games

Let’s Talk About Energy Drinks

These have become the go-to source of energy for busy students who are trying to stay on top of their studies while juggling so many different activities. They are branded with names like Amp, Bang, Monster, Venom, and Rockstar.

Some are sold as drinks with 70 to 240 mg of caffeine, and there are the “energy shots,” which can have 113 to 200 mg of caffeine. The drinks can also contain ingredients like sugars taurine, and guarana, which is another source of caffeine.

They can help increase alertness, energy, and attention. But the potential effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing can be dangerous.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, energy drink-related emergency room visits doubled from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, 1 in 10 resulted in hospitalization. That year, 42% of all energy drink-related emergency room visits involved combining energy drinks with alcohol or drugs.

Potential Dangers

Nearly 1,500 kids aged 12 to 17 took a trip to the ER for an energy drink-related emergency in 2011. The dangers include:

  • Dehydration
  • Heart complications
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children and teens should avoid energy drinks entirely.

Integral Bar With Blueberry Fruits

Other Caffeine Sources

Sodas, coffee, tea, and energy drinks are the big sources of caffeine. But it also shows up in other foods and even some personal-care products. They include:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee-flavored foods
  • Snack foods, like energy bars
  • Lip balms
  • Skincare products like some eye creams, scrubs, and moisturizers
  • Weight-loss supplements

Find Alternatives

The best source of energy for adolescents and teens is sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital for the healthy development of young minds and bodies. Consuming caffeine only inhibits getting enough sleep.

Having a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help maintain a steady stream of energy without the peaks and crashes that come from consuming too much caffeine.

Having a relationship with your AltaMed pediatrician is a good first step in raising a healthy and energetic child. We also have a host of wellness programs to get the entire family on a path to physical fitness and healthy food choices. 

Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get stared with us today.

Drinking? Here’s How to Get Home Safely