Spring has finally sprung and so have social events that often include the consumption of alcohol. From weddings and graduations to outdoor barbeques, alcohol is often a component. This month, the Naperville Police Department is encouraging our residents to learn more about the risks involved with excessive drinking and be aware of the signs that you or someone you love may be putting yourself or others at risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “excessive” alcohol use is defined as binge drinking (4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women, 5 of more drinks during a single occasion for men), heavy drinking (8 or more drinks per week for women, 15 or more drinks per week for men), and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than 21 years of age. There are subtle signals that you may be entering the drinking danger zone.

Do you find yourself thinking about that glass of wine or beer during the day when you get home from work? Having a drink to unwind is not a bad thing, nor is it something you should consider a warning sign. However, if the only way you can get through the day is by thinking about that evening drink, it could be a sign of an alcohol problem.

Missing work or school in the morning? Once alcohol starts interfering with your responsibilities, you should re-evaluate some of your choices.

Can’t remember the night before? This is a serious sign of too much alcohol. When the body’s alcohol level rises too high too fast, memory functions are impaired. Alcohol changes the chemical reactions in your brain, and it can’t send or process messages the way it normally would.

Does one drink turn into three or four? You meet friends or coworker after work for “one” drink, and three drinks later you are still going strong. This could be a sign of an alcohol problem.

Drowning your sorrows. We all have bad days, but when you use alcohol as a coping mechanism for the stresses of life, that could be a sign of a bigger problem. While a drink after work or with dinner can be pleasurable and safe, people with excessive or chronic stress often drink to excess.

Excessive drinking can lead to alcohol dependence as well as many harmful health conditions and chronic illnesses; injuries from vehicle crashes, falls, drownings and burns; violence; risky social behaviors; and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety; among many other short- and long-term risks.

If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a drinking problem, call the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

The Naperville Police Department reminds you and your family members to consume alcohol responsibility to make our community “A Safer Naper.”

Until next month… Stay Aware and Stay Safe.