What is your awareness of alcohol? Are you one of the 17.6 million people who suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence or engage in risky, binge-drinking patterns?
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, that’s the number of citizens in the United States who experience those concerns. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you.
When you are attending a special occasion or having a few drinks at home, it is important to know the basics about alcohol and what amount is in a standard drink. One standard size drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of beer, 8-to-9 fluid ounces of malt liquor, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of an 80-proof spirit.
So, does this mean a Long Island Iced Tea is one standard drink? No. One Long Island Iced Tea can contain between three to five standard drinks. The body needs approximately two hours to process one standard drink. This means that just one Long Island Iced Tea can take the body six to 10 hours to metabolize the drink.
Another way to think about how alcohol affects the body is by measuring blood alcohol concentration.
On average, a male accumulates a .02 BAC and a female accumulates a .03 BAC per standard drink. Using the example of a Long Island Iced Tea, a male would have approximately a .06 to .10 BAC and a woman .09 to .18 BAC from that one drink. At a BAC of .08-.09 percent, speech may be slurred and walking difficult. There would also be a marked decrease in motor skills and vision would likely be blurred.
It is also important to be aware of what constitutes binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs if a male consumes more than four drinks per sitting or a female consumes more than three drinks per sitting. Surpassing these limits makes it more likely a person will experience the negative health and behavioral effects of alcohol.
People choose to consume alcohol for a variety of reasons – to socialize on the weekend, to relax after a long day at work, to celebrate special occasions, or to cope with stressors. It is important to be aware of the reasons for drinking and to avoid using alcohol in an unhealthy manner. It should never be used to cope with stress or aid in sleeping. If it is having harmful effects on a person’s work or personal life, help is available at the Luke AFB Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment clinic on the second floor of the Med Group building. Addressing these concerns early can prevent future problems resulting from alcohol abuse.