HEALTH & WELLNESS: ALCOHOL
Alcohol can have a significant impact on your decision making, health, relationships, and the community. Here are some suggestions to keep you healthier, safer, and smarter:
How many drinks did you have the last time you consumed alcohol? Often times with mixed drinks, kegs, and malt beverages, when people say that they've had two drinks, they've really had between 4 and 6. Listed below are the number of ounces of each type of alcohol that equal one drink. You can use the lines on a Solo cup to approximate these serving sizes.
Think you can pour a standard drink? Test your drink-pouring with this interactive game.
SIGNS OF ALCOHOL POISONING: If someone exhibits ANY of these signs, call 911 immediately!
- Fever or chill
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Unconscious or semi-unconscious
- Poorly aware of surroundings
- Vomiting while unconscious or semi-unconscious
- Bluish gums or fingernail beds
- Low body temperature or seizures
- Slow or irregular breathing; difficulty breathing
- Cold, bluish or clammy skin
MEDICAL AMNESTY:Texas has a 911 Lifeline Law that provides medical amnesty from alcohol possession and consumption charges against minors if they:
- Request medical assistance for a minor due to alcohol consumption
- Remain at the scene
- Cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel
BIOLOGICAL SEX (SEX ASSIGNED AT BIRTH)
- Males typically have more of the enzyme in their stomach that metabolizes alcohol, which means that men digest more of the alcohol and less of it is absorbed into their bloodstream.
- Higher levels of estrogen have been shown to be related to faster absorption of alcohol into the system.
- Males typically have more water weight, and females have more fat. Alcohol is fat soluble, so it is absorbed at a higher rate in women.
- A female absorbs about 30% more alcohol per drink than a male of the same weight!
- A person with a high body mass will have a lower blood alcohol concentration than a person with a lesser body mass when the two people have the same number of drinks.
- Alcohol is fairly evenly distributed throughout one's body (process called equilibration), so the more body mass one has, the more area the alcohol has to spread over.
- If you think you can go one for one with someone who is twice your size, think again!
- Eating protein before and while you consume alcohol will reduce the speed of alcohol absorption into your system.
- Protein/fatty foods coat your stomach and allow for more time to metabolize alcohol.
- Caffeine and carbonation both increase the rate of alcohol absorption. See the Energy Drinks and Alcohol attachment for the effects of mixing caffeine with alcohol.
- The faster you drink, the less time your body has to metabolize the alcohol, and the faster the alcohol enters your bloodstream.
- This makes drinking games particularly dangerous, as people often do not realize soon enough how intoxicated they are.
MEDICATION AND OTHER DRUGS
- Many medications increase the speed of alcohol absorption.
- Due to this, one may find that a lesser number of drinks could lead to negative consequences, including alcohol poisoning. This holds true for some illegal drugs as well.
- Some medicines have long lasting effects and can interact with alcohol at any time of the day.
- Ask a pharmacist or physician before consuming alcohol if you are taking ANY medication.
- Hormones can affect the liver's ability to process alcohol.
- Research suggests that the menstrual cycle and the use of any medications that affect the liver may intensify a woman's response to alcohol.
- Women have been shown to develop their highest BAC immediately before menstruating and lowest on the first day of menstruation.
Depending on how much and how often you drink, the following are some ways that you can be impacted when you choose to consume alcohol:
- Decrease in the time it takes to fall asleep
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Reduction in some social inhibitions
- Exaggeration of current emotional state
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
- Anemia (loss of red blood cells
- Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)
- Unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning
- Intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence
- Increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity
- Increased family problems, broken relationships
- Alcohol poisoning
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Sexual problems
- Permanent damage to the brain
- Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by anemia, apathy, and disorientation
- Gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls)
- Cancer of the mouth and throat