Alcohol is the oldest drug known to mankind. There are several different kinds of alcohol: beer, malt liquor, wine, and 80-proof sprits. Different types of beverages vary in their actual alcohol content. A stander drink of beer is 12oz, malt liquor is 8.5oz, wine is 5oz, 80-proof spirits is 1.5oz. A standard drink takes the average person one hour to process one standard drink.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.
Alcohol use can result in missing class, doing poorly on tests or projects, disciplinary issues, or other problems.
Alcohol has several different effects on the body. Its primary action is to cause central nervous system depression, which changes all of the bodies systems, such as the digestive system, heart and circulation, endocrine, and the central nervous system. Anyone who drinks notices the increased trips to the bathroom. This increase is not caused by the effect of the alcohol on the kidneys, or because of the increased fluids in the system. In the pituitary gland, a hormone is released that regulates the action of the kidneys. Alcohol causes the pituitary to release too little of this hormone. As a result, the kidneys produce a larger than normal amount of dilute urine to pass. Without the hormone to regulate the normal flow, the kidneys trigger a response to void, even when there is actually little urine to pass. This effect is most noticeable when the BAC is rising.
Women are affected by alcohol more rapidly because they tend to have a higher proportion of body fat than men. As fat cannot absorb alcohol, it is concentrated at higher levels in the blood. Women also have less of a gastric or stomach enzyme (dehydrogenase) that metabolizes or breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. Because of this, women absorb up to nearly 30% more alcohol into their bloodstream than men of the same height and weight who drink the same amount of alcohol. Women are also usually shorter and lighter than men, further concentrating alcohol in their blood. Therefore, when women of average size consume one drink, it will have almost the same effect as two drinks do for the average-size man. If women eat little or skip food entirely, that compounds the effects of drinking alcohol.
There are a number of things both men and women can do to avoid problems with alcohol: For example:
Know your limit. If you're not sure, experiment at home with your spouse or some other consume one drink per hour without any ill effects.
- Eat food while you drink. Food, especially high protein food such as meat, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.
- Sip your drinks. If you gulp, you also lose the pleasure of their flavors and aromas.
- Don't participate in "chugging" contests or other drinking games.
- Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone tries to force a drink on you, ask for a non-alcohol beverage instead. If that doesn't work, "lose" your drink by setting
it down someplace and leaving it.
- Skip a drink now and then or alternate alcohol and non-alcohol drinks. Having non- alcohol drinks will help keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) down, as does spacing your alcohol drinks.
- Keep active; don't just sit around and drink. If you stay active you tend to drink less and be to be more aware of any effects alcohol may be having on you.
- Beware of unfamiliar drinks. Some drinks such, as zombies and other fruit drinks, can
be deceiving as the alcohol content is not easily detectable. Therefore, it is difficult to space them properly.
- Use alcohol carefully in connection with pharmaceuticals. Ask your physician or pharmacist about any precautions or prohibitions and follow any advice received.
- Never set your drink down in public. Predators may slip something in your drink.
Blackouts are probably one of the most curious effects of drinking. A blackout is an amnesia-like period often associated with heavy drinking. If you drink too much, you pay the price with the effects of a hangover. The hangover is the after effect may induce: fatigue, nausea, upset stomach, headache, thirst (cotton mouth), depression, anxiety, general malaise, sensitivity to sound, and ill temper. Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication. A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off. Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rabid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or dare) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.
Alcohol affects athletes. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste, even a few drinks, can nullify your hard work by erasing the effects of your workouts, reducing your endurance and compromising your mental game. The opportunity to “party” can contribute to nights of heavy binge drinking or over-indulgence, ending in situations of regret, blackouts, legal problems, and sometimes team and university sanctions. Few athletes realize that consuming alcohol after a workout, practice, or competition can cancel out any physiological gains you may have received from the activity. For most athletes, preparation, learning plays and strategies is essential to peak performance. Use of alcohol can have negative effects on this process. When alcohol is in your system your brain’s ability to learn and store information is inhibited due to compromising the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain vital to the formation of new memories. For more information visit:
If you or someone you know may be suffering feel free to contact the Student Wellness Center at (580) 581-6725. For more information on our counseling program check out our counseling link on the Student Wellness Center home page.