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Alcohol Education: Risk Reduction


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There are various ways to reduce your risk when it comes to alcohol use.

Protective Behaviors

  • Set a limit on how many drinks you are going to have for the night and stick to it.
  • Drink slowly.
    • Alcohol is metabolized at a rate of one drink per hour. Drinking slowly allows the liver to process the alcohol so it will not build up in the bloodstream.
  • Eat before you drink.
    • Eating high-protein foods like cheeses and meats will slow down the absorption rate so the alcohol will not hit your system all at once.
  • Alternate drinks with water.
    • Water helps dilute alcohol to slow absorption into the bloodstream. Avoid carbonated beverages as they increase absorption.
  • Have a designated driver.
    • Avoid DUI charges and the risk of death or injury by having a sober driver.
  • Help your friends.
    • If anyone in your group has had too much to drink, see that they get a ride home with someone sober or find them a place to sleep.
  • Always stay with your original group.
    • Never leave with someone you do not know. Although we would like to think all strangers are not harmful, always consider your safety. The group you came with should be the group you leave with.
  • Use alcohol cautiously in connection with any medication or other drugs.

Understanding "Standard Drink"

A standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol or

  • 12 ounces of beer.
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor.
  • 5 ounces of wine.
  • 1.5 ounces of a "shot" of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g. gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey).

The same amount of alcohol is consumed for each type of drink listed above. A 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor will affect a person in the same way. The type of alcoholic drink is not important, the amount of alcohol is.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or blood alcohol content, is the concentration of alcohol in blood. It is usually measured as mass per volume. For example, a BAC of 0.02% means 0.2% (permille), 0.02 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of individual's blood, or 0.2 grams of alcohol per 1000 of blood. To determine BAC, use the charts below to calculate number of drinks and body weight. The body can process one drink per hour and men and women process alcohol differently. 


Alcohol Poisoning Signs

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary functions such as breathing and the gag reflex. A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these vital functions.

Signs of alcohol poisoning include

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or a person cannot be awakened.
  • 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.
  • Vomiting while "sleeping" or passed out and not waking after vomiting.

If any or all of these symptoms occur, GET HELP IMMEDIATELY by calling 9-1-1. Do not leave the person alone. Be sure to move the person on their side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.

For more information on alcohol poisoning visit the College Drinking Prevention website.