Alcohol Use

Effects of Alcohol:  Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that affects every organ in the body. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream by the stomach and small intestine. Alcohol is metabolized by enzymes in the liver. The liver can only metabolize a small portion of these enzymes, thus an excess of alcohol remains present in the body. Alcohol’s intensity and effect on different individuals is directly related to the amount of the substance consumed. A Standard drink contains varying percentages of alcohol.  For example, a regular 12 oz. beer has 5% alcohol, a 5 oz. glass of wine has about 12% alcohol, and a 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof hard liquor contains 40% alcohol.*

 *What is a standard drink?

For beer, the approximate number of standard drinks in

• 12 oz. = 1                   • 22 oz. = 2
• 16 oz. = 1.3                • 40 oz. = 3.3

For malt liquor, the approximate number of standard drinks in

• 12 oz. = 1.5                • 22 oz. = 2.5
• 16 oz. = 2                   • 40 oz. = 4.5

For table wine, the approximate number of standard drinks in

• a standard 750 mL (25 oz.) bottle = 5

For 80-proof spirits, or “hard liquor,” the approximate number of standard drinks in

• a mixed drink = 1 or more*                • a fifth (25 oz.) = 17
• a pint (16 oz.) = 11                              • 1.75 L (59 oz.) = 39

BAC:  Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a percentage that describes the amount of alcohol present in an individual’s blood stream. The higher an individual’s BAC, the more intoxicated or impaired the person is. A person driving a vehicle with a BAC of .08 is considered intoxicated and highly impaired to drive.

Limits and Presence of an Issue:  Due to different body chemistry, men and women process alcohol differently and therefore, women should only consume up to one drink per day, and men should limit it to one or two drinks per day.  Drinking can cause many challenges in an individual’s life if it becomes excessive and/or unmanaged. It becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with a person’s daily functioning, physical well-being, relationships, job status, budget, ability to follow through with commitments, etc.  It can also permanently impact one’s physical health including cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, a variety of cancers, motor-vehicle accidents, falls, drowning, violence, etc. and can result in a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism.

  • Heavy Alcohol Use: Men consuming an average of two or more drinks/day and women consuming an average of more than one drink/day.
  • Binge Drinking: A single period of time or a one-time session of drinking, usually consisting of more than 5 drinks for men, and four or more drinks for women.
  • Alcohol Abuse: “Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work.”.
  • Alcoholism: “Dependency on alcohol…”, including strong cravings for alcohol, inability to limit drinking, and continued use despite negative consequences.

Finding Help

  • Use the AA and Hotline resource pages in the packet to find resources and support.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns regarding alcohol.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your WWC Care Manager for resources, suggestions, and support for your need or challenge.