Alcohol FAQ

What is the difference between beer and wine versus hard alcohol?

“Hard alcohol” are those that contain a higher alcohol ratio than beer and wine. Vodka, rum, tequila, bourbon, scotch whiskey, and other forms of hard liquor are distilled, which is a different process than brewing (beer) and fermentation (wines). Hard liquor is often referred to as “spirits” because it is distilled. Beer comes from fermented grains and wine is made with fermented grapes.

What is a blackout? I drank “one too many” and cannot remember what I did.

Blackouts are phenomena of drinking behaviors most often seen with binge drinking or long-term heavy drinking. The effects of alcohol on even a seasoned drinker are very hard to predict. While there is recognizable damage to the brain done by heavy drinking, memory loss is not unusual. Blackouts occur with heavy drinking, usually without food and in a short time span. Some people may experience them with as few as one or two drinks under the right conditions. This is temporary, but permanent memory loss that occurs with drinking behaviors.

Seven hundred and seventy-two college students questioned in a recent study answered the question “Have you ever forgotten all or part of the events that took place after a few drinks?” and 40 percent of them answered yes. The dangers of this occurring are that those who are in a blackout often do things that they would not do when sober or even mildly intoxicated, such as sexual promiscuity and other risky behaviors they normally would not participate in.

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How do I know if I have a drinking problem?

This question is one that only you can answer. There are certain signs that drinking alcohol is interfering with your life. If you drink daily, some believe that is a symptom of dependence. If you have frequent blackout drinking episodes, they are another warning sign. If you drink when consequences have become more than you believe drinking is worth to you, it may be a problem. If you are beginning to experience physical damage to your body, it may be cause for concern. If you are drinking in the morning to overcome symptoms of a hangover too often, you may be drinking too much. Your doctor may be able to help you see the health risks of your drinking. There is a 20-question pamphlet produced by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that can lead you to the answer for yourself.

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Why do people drink if it is so bad for them?

Many people drink to embrace social conventions, such as at parties and family gatherings. Alcohol is used in celebrations, social gatherings, and in settings where conviviality and “cheer” are commonly part of the experience. Some religions include alcohol in their rites, as well as in their rites of passage. Weddings, graduations, anniversaries, birthdays, and many other celebrations include alcohol consumption.

Many people drink to relax and unwind after a work day, to create social relationships with others, to “break the ice” in awkward and uncomfortable settings, or to increase bonding with people they don’t normally socialize with. Reasons for drinking may be valid or an ego defense. When it becomes the only way someone can relax, it may be a problem. If someone has dozens of reasons for why they must drink, it may be a problem, as well. Sometimes a person’s reasons for drinking indicate that a problem (dependency) on alcohol is present.

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How do I know if I'm ok to drive ?

This question is going to have a different answer for every drinker. A small individual, with low body weight, who has not had anything to eat prior to drinking even one cocktail, consumed quickly, is under the influence and may be prosecuted for DUI or being under the influence if they drive within a time span less than that required to work off the alcohol. Each person is going to have different levels of intoxication after having a single drink and which can be determined by a few alcohol tests. That is why it is important to not drive once drinking begins. The more alcohol consumed, the more certain many people become that they are unimpaired. The effects last up to several hours, depending on all the factors listed above. Someone sipping a single glass of wine over a period of an hour or more, who ate a large meal prior to or with the wine, would probably be considered a safe risk. However, there are too many variables and the risk is very great. Effects are almost immediate and have differing levels of impact on the drinker, so it is always best to be safe. Note: Drinking coffee after consuming alcohol does NOT sober a person up. It may alter their drowsiness from the sedative effects of alcohol, but do not help it to wear off. The only way to drink and be a safe driver is to wait at least 2 hours for the effects of EVERY drink to wear off.

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What is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Pregnant women who drink alcohol pass the effects of alcohol on to their unborn children. Heavy drinking during pregnancy is the cause of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Babies born with FAS have distorted facial features that do not improve as they age. There is permanent damage to the learning centers of the brain, causing lifelong learning disabilities. They also suffer from behavioral problems and physical deformities and can have other birth defects. There is a full range of “spectrum” disorders for those children who are exposed to ANY alcohol in utero.

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Will I go through withdrawal if I stop drinking?

Frequent drinkers oftentimes experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Common symptoms may include: fatique, anxiety, nervousness, depression, irritability, mood swings, headaches, fuzzy thinking, insomnia, and many more. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the user. Some find getting help through a treatment center to be beneficial as they go through this tough time.

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