This page includes the following topics about alcohol:
This page includes the following topics about alcohol:
Alcohol is classified as a depressant, and acts by slowing down your central nervous system, and causing impairment in your motor coordination, reaction time as well as your judgment and reasoning. Ingesting high amounts of alcohol can cause your respiratory system to slow down drastically and could potentially cause a coma or death.
Mixing with Caffeine
One trend among drinkers is the mixing of alcohol with products that contain caffeine or energy drink ingredients, such as guarana or taurine. Combining caffeine and alcohol can cause an "awake drunk" effect which produces a more energetic, alert feeling. This can lead to dangerous behaviors such as driving drunk or engaging in other risky behaviors.
Additionally, this mixture increases the risk of alcohol poisoning by causing a "less drunk" feeling, potentially resulting in the drinking of more alcohol for longer periods of time. Moreover, alcohol and caffeine can lead to higher levels of dehydration, as well as rapid increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
Mixing with Depressants
It is particularly dangerous to mix alcohol with other depressants, such as marijuana, drugs like Rohypnol or Ketamine, as well as tranquilizers or sleeping pills. Combining depressants multiplies the effects of both drugs and can lead to memory loss, coma or death.
Once swallowed, alcohol enters the stomach and moves to the small intestine, where it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Alcohol does not digest in the stomach like most foods or liquids;it goes straight into your bloodstream. Approximately 20% of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach, while the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol is quickly distributed evenly throughout the body affecting every system and many organs, including the brain.
Alcohol is metabolized and broken down by enzymes in the liver. The most important point to remember is that the liver can only process one ounce of 80-proof liquor (or one standard drink) in one hour. Drinking more than this, will result in your system becoming saturated, and the additional alcohol will accumulate in the blood and body tissues until it can be metabolized. This is why having a lot of shots or playing drinking games can result in a high blood alcohol concentration that lasts for several hours. Be sure to check out our definition of “One Standard Drink”.
Since not everyone measures out or uses a standard drink size when drinking, then most college students probably do not measure the amount of alcohol in a cupful (i.e. red solo cup). It is important to remember that ‘1 drink’ is not one cupful -- it is how much alcohol is actually in what you are drinking. Knowing how to count a standard drink is necessary for understanding how much alcohol is in your body and to correctly calculate the BAC or blood alcohol concentration. Refer to the photograph depicted below for guidance.
Understanding BAC is key to understanding how alcohol affects your body and how too much can lead to an alcohol emergency. BAC measures the ratio of alcohol in the blood. So, a BAC of .10 means one part alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood.
** BAC charts are intended to provide a general guideline for you. Every person reacts differently to alcohol and additional aspects such as body composition, use of medication or other drugs, mood changes as well as metabolism should be factored.
Effects of blood alcohol content on thinking, feeling and behavior:
Now that you know how to calculate BAC, see how alcohol affects your body at different levels.
0.02-0.03 - Slight euphoria, loss of shyness
0.04-0.06 - Feeling of relaxation, lower inhibitions, minor impairment of reasoning and memory, lowering of cautions.
0.07-0.09 - Slight impairment of balance, speech & reaction time,
judgment reduced, reason impaired
0.10-0.125 - Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment, slurred speech; balance & reaction time impaired.
0.13-0.15 - Gross motor impairment & lack of physical control, blurred vision, loss of balance; anxiety, judgment and perception are severely impaired.
0.16-0.19 - Nausea & more anxiety, appears as “sloppy” drunk
0.20-0.24 - Disoriented, needs help to stand, walk, some have nausea & vomiting, blackouts likely.
0.25-0.29 - Mental, physical and sensory functions severely impaired risk of serious injury.
0.30-0.34 - Stupor, little comprehension, may pass out, hard to awaken.
0.35+ - Coma and/or death possible.
Ability to dilute alcohol
Females have less water in their body system compared to male (52% for females, 61% for males). As a result females have less water to dilute the alcohol, lead to faster intoxication compared to males.
Ability to metabolize alcohol
Within your stomach and liver there is an enzyme called dehydrogenase which helps rid the body of alcohol. Females produce LESS of this enzyme than males.
Hormonal changes can cause a quicker rate of intoxication during the days right before a female gets her period. Birth control pills or other medication with estrogen will slow down the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the body.
If you choose to drink, the best way to be safe is moderation. The following tips are a starting point for you to drink more responsibly:
A hangover is your body’s reaction to poisoning and withdrawal -- a common result of overindulging in alcohol. Symptoms that can occur include headache, fatigue, thirst, nervousness as well as possible nausea and abdominal cramping.
There are many different things that are considered the cure for a hangover. Here are a few myths that do NOT help to cure hangovers:
Here are few suggestions that may help to cure a hangover:
Please note: Alcoholics report fewer hangovers than drinkers who are non-alcoholic; this may be because they have learned to ignore the symptoms.
"Blackouts" (referred to as alcohol-related memory loss) occur when people have no memory of what happened while intoxicated. They can last from a few hours to several days. During a blackout, someone may appear fine to others; however, the next day they cannot remember parts of the night and what they did. The cause of blackouts is not well understood but may involve the interference of short-term memory storage, deep seizures, or in some cases, psychological depression.
A blackout is not the same thing as "passing out," which happens when people lose consciousness from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Losing consciousness means that the person has reached an extremely dangerous level of intoxication; they could choke on their vomit or slip into a coma. If someone has passed out, call Public Safety (202) 885-2527 seek immediate medical attention.
Sometimes as a friend you may need to have the courage to step in and help someone who is drinking dangerous. It is important to know how to size up a scene and help care for a drunken friend. Be sure to review the section on How to Drink Responsibly for additional tips.
Signs of an Alcohol Emergency
Alcohol poisoning is serious, and can be fatal. College students die every year from alcohol poisoning. Therefore the signs that indicate this type of alcohol emergency are something every college student should be aware and understand.
To make sure you're being safe understand the signs of an alcohol emergency:
If you think a friend is having an alcohol emergency but you are not sure what to do, contact Public Safety.
Alcohol emergencies require immediate medical attention. Be sure to have the Public Safety phone number, (202) 885-2527, for quick access to help on campus.