Health & Safety

December 6, 2012

Understand dangers of alcohol to avoid holiday mishaps

1. It doesn’t take as much as you think to blow a .08 on an alcohol breathalyzer test. Based on the weight variable alone, a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content) will likely be .08 as follows:

• 110-129 lbs: two drinks in an hour or less

• 130-149 lbs: three drinks in two hours or less

• 170-189 lbs: four drinks in two hours or less

2. Throwing up, drinking coffee, taking a cold shower or walking around the block will not sober-up a person. The only thing that can make a person sober is time. See #3.

3. It takes about one hour for the liver to rid the body of the alcohol in one standard drink. If a person consumes six drinks, it’ll take approximately six hours to clear the body of alcohol. In the meantime, the alcohol “sits” in the brain, which is what makes a person act and behave differently. See #6.

4. Not all drinks contain the same amount of alcohol. A standard drink – one drink – of 80 proof hard liquor, such as vodka, bourbon, tequila = 1.5 ounces. One standard drink of wine = 5 ounces and one regular beer = 12 ounces. Additionally, drinks vary per drink container or type of cocktail.

5. If you answer once or more to the following question, you may want to visit this link, http://tiny.cc/bk60nw, to learn more about healthy and unhealthy drinking patterns:

• For women: how many times in the past year have you had four or more standard drinks on a day?

• For men: how many times in the past year have you had five or more standard drinks on a day?

6. When a person drinks more than their liver can process, it changes how their brain functions. This is what causes people to engage in drinking behaviors, such as getting into fights, emotionally or physically or verbally abusing someone, driving while impaired or having unprotected or unwanted sex. A good rule of thumb when in the company of a person drinking more than four standard drinks (women) or five or more standard drinks (men) is to remember that person’s brain is impaired – it can’t function normally. Thus, it’s important to protect oneself from drinking behaviors, such as not engaging in the argument or not taking to heart the hurtful things said. When a person is on the receiving end of someone’s drinking behaviors – such as sexual assault or verbal abuse or a drunk driving accident – that person experiences secondhand drinking.

Critical Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

• Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused

• Vomiting

• Seizures

• Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)

• Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)

• Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?

• Know the danger signs

• Do not wait for all symptoms to be present

• Be aware that a person who has passed out may die

If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help. Don’t try to guess the level of drunkenness.

What can happen to someone with alcohol poisoning that goes untreated?

• Victim chokes on his or her own vomit

• Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops

• 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 the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (defined as four or more standard drinks/occasion for women and five or more for men) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.

(Information provided by Lisa Frederiksen, author, speaker, consultant and founder of BreakingTheCycles.com)




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