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Alcohol Facts

The Sobering Truth

While movies and television tend to portray college drinking as a harmless activity that at worst might result in a hangover the next day, in reality the consequences of alcohol can carry a heavy toll, and can even be deadly. Each year, there are 1,825 deaths and over 599,000 injuries related to college age drinking. Additionally, over 690,000 assaults by college students who have been drinking are reported, including 97,000 sexual assaults or date rape. Alcohol or drug-related reasons also account for 159,000 college students dropping out within their first year. It is important to know the facts about how alcohol consumption can effect your life so that you can make the right choices for yourself and your future before taking the first sip.

Factors That Contribute To College Age Drinking

For many students, living on campus away from their parents instills a feeling of independence. The fear of being caught or reprimanded for drinking might lessen and a desire to fit in amongst one’s new friends might increase. These factors, coupled with the availability of alcohol, can all result in a student deciding to start drinking.

What is a Drink?

  • One 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler
  • One 5-ounce glass of wine
  • 1 shot of 80 proof (40%) liquor (1.5 ounces)
  • One mixed drink

Note: Different beers have different alcohol content. For example, Malt liquor has a higher alcohol content than most brewed beverages.

Low Risk Drinking

Low risk drinking is defined as the following:

  • Drinking two or fewer nights per week
  • Having three or fewer alcohol drinks
  • Consuming each drink one hour apart


Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

Less Serious but More Common Experiences:

  • 42% did something they later regret
  • 37% report having missed class
  • 37% were criticized by someone they know
  • 41% experienced memory loss
  • 62% vomited or became nauseous
  • 76% experienced a hangover

Public Misconduct or Behaviors that involve actual or potential harm to self or others:

  • 0.2% arrested for DWI or DUI
  • 19% had interactions with Police, Residence Assistants, or other College Authorities
  • 5% caused damage to property or pulled a fire alarm
  • 20% drove while under the influence
  • 38% got into an argument or fight

Serious Personal Problems:

  • 18% were hurt or injured
  • 12% thought they might have a drinking or drug problem
  • 5% tried unsuccessfully to stop drinking
  • 27% performed poorly on a test or important project

Serious Personal Problems:

  • 0.9% attempted suicide
  • 3% considered suicide
  • 4% experienced forced sexual touching or fondling
  • 3% experience unwanted sexual intercourse

Problems College Students Experience When Others Drink:

  • 25% were interrupted from studying
  • 9% felt unsafe
  • 26% had their physical living space disturbed
  • 14% had a group activity adversely affected
  • 22% experienced some sort of other interference

Alcohol Choices and Grades

Grade Average Number of Drinks Per Week
A 3.6
B 5.5
C 7.6
D or F 10.6

How Alcohol Discriminates

  • Ability to Dilute Alcohol:
    • Women: Avg. Total Body Water: 52%
    • Men: Avg. Total Body Water: 61%
  • Ability to Metabolize Alcohol:
    • Females have a smaller quantity of dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
    • Males have a larger amount of dehydrogenase which allows them to break down the alcohol they take in more quickly.

Safety Tips

  • Pair up and use the “Buddy System”
  • Do not ever leave your drink unattended
  • Avoid liquor and shots
  • Commit to NEVER drinking and driving
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks such as water
  • Pace your drinks (one hour apart is recommended)

What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

  • The concentration of alcohol in the blood, expressed as the weight of alcohol in a fixed volume of blood and used as a measure of the degree of intoxication in an individual. The concentration depends on body weight, the quantity and rate of alcohol ingestion, and the rates of alcohol absorption and metabolism. Also called blood alcohol level.
  • The legal BAC in New York State is below .08 for a person 21 years of age or older.

More Facts About Alcohol

  • Alcohol is a depressant. The more you drink, the more "depressed" your brain activity becomes. As you continue to drink and as alcohol levels increase, vision, movement, and speech are impaired (this can occur at only .01% of blood alcohol levels).
  • Just like other drugs, you can overdose on alcohol. A dangerously high blood alcohol level can cause your heartbeat and breathing to stop altogether and can lead to death
  • Passing out can be life threatening. The amount of alcohol it takes to make you pass out is dangerously close to the amount of alcohol it takes to kill you.
  • Alcohol is not digested like other foods or beverages. It passes directly into theblood stream. Once the alcohol is in your bloodstream, nothing can help break down the alcohol to help you "sober up." (Not caffeine, not food, not water. You might be full, but you will not be any less intoxicated).
  • Only time helps someone become sober.
  • Remember to never take Tylenol (acetaminophen) before you go to bed after drinking. It is metabolized by the liver just like alcohol and can cause serious liver damage.
  • Children of alcoholics are 3-4 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. So, if you've got a family history of alcoholism, you are at a greater risk for developing alcohol problems.
  • Long term chronic drinking can cause permanent memory loss and/or brain damage.
  • One night of heavy drinking can impair your ability to think abstractly for up to 30 days, limiting your capacity to comprehend or retain what you've read or what you've heard in a lecture and can limit your ability to perform well in any physical activity such as sports.
  • 25% of all emergency room visits are related to mixing alcohol with other medications. More than 150 different medications interact harmfully with alcohol, either increasing or inhibiting the effects of the alcohol and/or the drug causing a harmful chemical reaction.

How to Care for an Intoxicated Person

  • Call 911 and get the person medical attention
  • Call Campus Safety
  • Do not give them food or beverages
  • Have the person lie on his or her side

Alcohol Poisoning

  1. How much alcohol does it take to have alcohol poisoning?

    There is not definitive answer; no one knows what it takes. Any amount of alcohol that gets you "buzzed" one day can poison and possibly kill you the next.
  2. What happens to your body when you get alcohol poisoning?

    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 drinks excessively to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiations in a person who is not conscious. Also, a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops consuming, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body.
  3. What are the critical signs of alcohol poisoning?
    • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
    • Vomiting.
    • Seizures.
    • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
  4. What should I do if I suspect someone has alcohol poisoning?
    • Know the danger signs.
    • Do not wait for all signs to be present.
    • Be aware that a person who has passed out could die.
    • Call 911.
    • Do not try to guess the individual's level of drunkenness.
  5. What can happen to someone with alcohol poisoning that goes untreated?
    • Victim could choke on his or her own vomit.
    • Breathing could slow, become irregular, or stop.
    • Heart beats irregularly or stops.
    • Hypothermia (low body temperature).
    • Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures.
    • Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.
    • Even if a victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.
    • Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't worry that you're friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.

(Information obtained from the source