- Don't let drinking get out of control
- Set a limit before you start drinking. More than 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men per sitting is usually considered binge drinking
- Pace your drinks
- Drink non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic drinks
- Don't accept a drink if you don't know what is in it
- Avoid drinking games
- Never ride in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking!
- Know the signs of alcohol poisoning:
Unconsciousness or semi consciousness
Slowed or irregular breathing
Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
Strong odor of alcohol
How to help someone with alcohol poisoning
- Try to wake the person
- Turn the person on his or her side
- Do not leave the person
- Seek medical attention
Legal Consequences of Alcohol Misuse
The legal drinking age is 21 Penalties for underage drinking include:
- Fines up to $500
- Suspended license
- Community service
- Alcohol Awareness course
- Legal consequences for drinking and driving include:
- $250-$1,000 fine
- 48 hours imprisonment
- Complete MESAP
- Up to one year suspended license
*Penalties more severe for additional convictions
ALCOHOL'S TRIP THROUGH THE BODY
Mouth and Esophagus: Alcohol is an irritant to the delicate linings of throat and food pipe. It burns as it goes down.
Stomach and intestines: Alcohol has an irritating effect on the stomach's protective lining, resulting in gastric ulcers. This can lead to vomiting. About 20% is absorbed in the stomach and about 80% in the small intestine. In the small intestine, alcohol blocks absorption of such substances as thiamine, folic acid, fat, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, and amino acids.
How fast the alcohol is absorbed depends on several things:
- The concentration of alcohol in the beverage- the greater the concentration, the faster the absorption.
- The type of drink- carbonated beverages tend to speed up the absorption of alcohol.
- Whether the stomach is full or empty- food slows down alcohol absorption.
After absorption, the alcohol enters the bloodstream and dissolves in the water of the blood. The blood carries the alcohol throughout the body. The alcohol from the blood then enters and dissolves in the water inside each tissue of the body (except fat tissue, as alcohol cannot dissolve in fat). Once inside the tissues, alcohol exerts its effects on the body. The observed effects depend directly on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which is related to the amount of alcohol consumed. The BAC can rise significantly within 20 minutes after having a drink.
Bloodstream: 95% of alcohol taken into the body is absorbed into the bloodstream. Alcohol causes the red blood cells to clump together in sticky wads, slowing circulation and depriving tissues of oxygen. Alcohol slows the ability of white cells to engulf and destroy bacteria, and degenerates the clotting ability of blood platelets.
Once absorbed by the bloodstream, the alcohol leaves the body in three ways:
The kidneys eliminate 5% of alcohol in the urine.
The lungs exhale 5% of alcohol which can be detected by Breathalyzer devices.
The liver chemicals break down the remaining alcohol into acetic acid.
As a rule of thumb, an average person can eliminate .5 oz of alcohol per hour. So it would take approximately one hour to eliminate the alcohol from a 12 oz can of beer.
The BAC increases when the body absorbs alcohol faster than it can eliminate it. So, because the body can only eliminate about one dose of alcohol per hour, drinking several drinks in an hour will increase your BAC much more.