Alcoholism as a Social Problem

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Binge Drinking – Is It Worth Risking Your Life? What You Should Know About Alcohol Poisoning

By United Behavioral Health. © 2002. All rights reserved. Last reviewed: December 2004.

The prevalence of binge drinking among college students has remained the same between 1994-2002 (44%). Each year 1400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. 2.6 million young people do not know that a person can die from an overdose of alcohol. Each year approximately 50 college students across the United States die from alcohol poisoning – about one person per weekend. What is Binge Drinking?

The accepted definition of binge drinking (by the U.S. Surgeon General, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse) is five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more in a row for women. Drinking levels this high significantly increase the problems the drinkers and for those around them.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time. The amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is called the blood alcohol concentration or BAC, and is measured in percentages. For example, a BAC of 0.10 percent means that a person has 1 part alcohol per 1,000 parts blood in the body.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can be lethal, and it produces many behavioral, emotional, and physical effects as it acts upon different parts of the brain.

At low intake levels, alcohol reduces inhibitions and begins to affect judgment, vision, movement, and speech. Consumption of more alcohol affects coordination, reflexes, and balance. High levels of alcohol affect your brain's ability to control basic survival functions like respiration and heart rate. Finally, a person's heart rate can drop and breathing can cease, resulting in a coma and then death. At colleges, binge drinking...
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