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Alcohol Issues

Alcohol and Its Effects

Definition:
Alcohol is a depressant that is absorbed into the bloodstream and then transmitted to virtually every part of the body. The impact alcohol has on a person depends on amount consumed as well as the drinker’s sex, body size, and metabolism. Many individuals also believe the type and amount of food in the stomach when drinking impacts the way in which alcohol will effect the drinker. However, the fact is that having food in the stomach slows the absorption into the blood stream a bit but has no impact on overall level of intoxication. Even small amounts of alcohol impact a person’s physical coordination, mental alertness, and judgment - which make certain activities, like driving a vehicle, very dangerous. Larger amounts of alcohol have much more serious affects on the body. It causes slurred speech, staggering, reduced reasoning ability, severely reduced reaction time, double vision, mood swings, unconsciousness, and can even cause death.

    Anyone who drinks heavily on a regular basis could be likely to develop any of the following:

    • Liver and/or heart disease
    • Circulatory problems
    • Peptic ulcers
    • Brain damage
    • Various forms of cancer
    • Cognitive deficits

Types of Drinkers
To see if you or someone you know has a drinking problem read the following habits and attitudes that each type of drinker has and identify. 

    Social Drinker: 

    • Drinks slowly
    • Knows when they need to stop drinking
    • Never drives after drinking
    • Obeys laws related to drinking
    • Drinking or alcohol is a part, but not the focus of, a social situation
    • Respects people who do not drink 

    Problem Drinker:

    • Drinks just to get drunk
    • Tries to solve or cope with problems through drinking
    • Experiences personality changes which can range from becoming either angry, loud or violent to silent, remote or reclusive
    • Drinks when he/she should not – before driving, before going to class or work, or when it interferes with some responsibility (studying, relationships, etc.)
    • Causes other problems among family, friends, and even harms himself or herself through making bad choices and engaging in problematic behaviors

    An Alcoholic:

    • Spends a lot of time thinking about drinking and planning where and when to get the next drink
    • Keeps bottles hidden for quick pick me-ups
    • Denies drinking
    • Drinks alone and drinks in order to avoid feeling physically bad or sick
    • Needs to drink before a stressful situation
    • Starts drinking without conscious planning and loses awareness of amount consumed
    • May have "blackouts" where he/she cannot remember what they did while drinking
    • Goes from having hangovers to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremors (DTs) which can be fatal
    • Has or causes major problems with family, friends, employer, or police.

What is a Drink?

    • A 12-ounce beer
    • A 10-ounce wine cooler
    • A 4-ounce glass of wine
    • A 1-ounce shot of liquor

            All of these have the same amount of alcohol

When You Know You Are Out of Control 
Falling down a flight of stairs…Going to bed with someone you didn’t want to go to bed with…Not being able to remember what you did or where you were…Puking all over yourself or your date or your bathroom…Getting into a fight…Being picked up by the police…Spending too much money on alcohol…Being too hung over to do things you need or were supposed to do…

These are all signs that your drinking has gone too far. At this point you may be out of control with your use and you are harming yourself. Think about these consequences and see exactly how far you want to go to "have a good time."

Some Tips on Helping Yourself Stick To Your Personal Limits on Drinking

    • It is always okay to refuse a drink. Be polite but firm in your refusal. You can just say that you do not want to drink alcohol today. If need be, walk away or leave the party or gathering you are attending.
    • Before going to a bar or other place where alcohol is available, decide how much you are going to drink. You can switch to a non-alcoholic beverage when you reach your limit or alternate between an alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink to slow down your rate of alcohol consumption. Soda, juice, and water are some great options. These drinks can be made with a twist of lemon or lime so no one has to know if you have a drink containing alcohol or not.
    • Get involved in activities that you enjoy that are more than just drinking. This will get you meeting people who aren’t just focused on drinking alcohol and keep you having fun as well!

How to Help a Friend with a Drinking Problem

    • Face the issue, the problem will not just go away.
    • Take advantage of strength in numbers, get others involved who care about the drinker.
    • Give the facts, avoid lecturing and giving orders - just express your concerns and that you care about the person. Let others talk and intervene with the drinker and ask the drinker what they thought about what was said.
    • Do not approach the drinker while they are under the influence, wait until they are sober.
    • Avoid attitudes that put blame on, express anger toward, or appear to judge the drinker. Share your concerns and that you are saying something because you care, but know that any decisions about changing are up to the drinker.

Nearly 90% of interventions are successful. Just remember that your friend needs help. Try sharing your concerns, it could be just the thing your friend needs to get started with helping him/herself. For more information and/or guidance, please contact any of the following: 

    On Campus:

    • Counseling Center, Lucina Hall, Room 320
    • Campus Health Center
    • A counselor or teacher

    In the Community:

    • Local Health Department
    • A drug treatment program