Visualizing Alcohol Use

March 3rd, 2011 by admin

Visualizing Alcohol Use

While alcohol is probably the most commonly used drug in the Western world, it is not without its dangers. While even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to nausea, memory loss, and dreaded hangovers, higher amounts can cause liver damage, permanent brain damage, and even death. Because of these risks, knowing some facts about drinking and how to determine blood alcohol content can be useful to anyone that consumes alcohol.

Fifty percent of American adults identify themselves as current drinkers, defined as having at least 12 drinks over the course of the last year. While this number may seem low to some, the next two statistics are unfortunately high. Thirty-nine percent of teenagers between 12 and 17 have drank at least once in the last year, and six percent of teens have drank over 40 times in their life. In terms of college students, 63 percent of full-time students and 53 percent of all part-time students have drank in the past month. Over 60 percent of college students claimed to have had hangovers, experiences in babysitting drunken friends, and having their sleep or study time interrupted because of alcohol.

Alcohol intake is usually calculated in the number of drinks a person has had. Due to differences in alcohol content, what constitutes a drink can vary. One shot of hard liquor (40 percent alcohol) is equivalent to a 12-ounce can of beer (five percent), or a glass of table wine (12 percent). After one drink, one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) may be around .025 percent, euphoria and talkativeness can occur, but coordination may be impaired. After a few drinks, or a BAC of about .20 percent, people may start over-emoting and have increased libido, while their speech is slurred and they may be staggering. At higher levels, with a BAC of over .30 percent, blackouts, coma, and even death can result. Based on one’s weight, different numbers of drinks can create different BACs, so it’s important to be able to calculate your personal limits, so that you aren’t trying to compete with the highest survived BAC of .914 percent.

As a medical assistant you will be trained to know how to handle alcohol poisoning.  As scary as it sounds, it is a big deal and can be very serious.

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