Alcohol is found in beer, wine and spirits. Alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) is the ingredient that makes people intoxicated. It is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.
Consuming alcohol is associated with a number of short term and long-term health risks including addiction, motor vehicle crashes, violence, risky sexual behaviors, high blood pressure, and various cancers including breast cancer. The risk for these health risks increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
Underage drinking is the consuming of alcohol by any person who is under the legal age of 21 yrs.
When men consume more than 5 standard drinks in a row and women consume more than 4 standard drinks in a row within a short amount of time it is considered binge drinking which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking causes the persons’ blood alcohol level to rise to an unsafe and toxic level. When young people ages 12 to 20 yrs. (underage drinking) drink alcohol they engage in binge drinking most of the time.
Too much alcohol in the body can cause a person’s brain to shut down and their body functions controlled by the brain are affected. The heart can stop beating, a person can stop breathing and it can even cause death. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency.
Warning signs of alcohol poisoning:
- Mental confusion
- Passing out and not waking up
- Slow breathing (less that 8 breaths per minute) or irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Severe vomiting
- Cold, clammy or blue skin
If someone has been drinking and shows any of these warning signs – CALL 911!
Do not leave a person alone and keep checking to make sure they are breathing, place them on their side with knees bent so they do not choke, raise the arm closest to you above the person’s head, roll the person towards you, rest their head in front of their arm, tilt their head up so they can breathe and tuck their nearest hand under their cheek. Stay with them until medical help arrives.
For more information:
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (NIH.gov)
- NIDA.NIH.GOV | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov)
- CADCA | Building Drug-Free Communities
- U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance | Turning Evidence Into Action
- Alcohol Action Network | Protecting Communities Through Alcohol Policy Action
- Center for Advancing Alcohol Science to Practice