Careernav and Vic Health
Alcohol is present in the lives of most Australians, whether they drink themselves, or know someone who does. There are many facts, but also many myths spread about alcohol. Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation .Below is an accurate and factual overview, written by Brian Vandenberg of Vic Health.
Here are some facts on Alcohol, provided by the Australian Government, Department for Health and Aging:
- In an average week, 4 Australians under the age of 25 die due to alcohol-related injuries.
- In an average week, 70 Australians under 25 will be hospitalised due to alcohol-induced assault.
- 1 in 2 teenagers aged between 15 and 17 will do something they regret while drunk
- On average, 1 in 4 hospitalisations of Australians aged 15-25 occur due to alcohol
Some other facts, provided by the Victorian drug statistics handbook 2007:
- 96% of 16-24 year olds reported consuming alcohol within their lifetime (2006)
- 23% of males and 21% of females reported binge drinking at levels that placed them at risk or high risk of long-term harm
- 24,714 people were hospitalised due to alcohol in Victoria (2005-06)
- 25,101 drivers were caught by police driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit
- 29.6% of Australians were victims of an alcohol-related incident: verbal abuse, physical abuse or put in fear
- Binge drinking in teenagers can distort the developmental process and can lead to addiction and alcohol dependence
- Binge drinking is associated with mental health problems, long-term memory loss, cognitive impairment, and reductions in brain mass
- Binge drinking increases the likelihood of assault, injury, and risky sexual behaviour
What is alcohol and how does it affect the human body?
Alcohol is a depressant drug. It’s not a stimulant as many people believe. Depressants slow down activity in the central nervous system, including the brain. They affect concentration and coordination, and slow the response time to unexpected situations.
When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the stomach and the small intestine. That's why the effects of an alcoholic drink may be felt very quickly. Food in the stomach slows down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed, but it does not prevent intoxication or drunkenness.
After one or two alcoholic drinks, most people will feel more relaxed. You may not notice it, but you will have slower reflexes and reduced coordination and concentration.
After a few more drinks, most people will show fewer inhibitions, more confidence, reduced coordination, slurred speech, intense moods—for example, sad, happy, and angry.
After still more drinks you could experience confusion, blurred vision, and poor muscle control.
Further drinking could result in severe affects such as nausea, vomiting, black outs, coma and death.
What is your BAC and why is it important?
Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) refers to the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream after you have been drinking. A BAC of 0.05 per cent (point 0 five) means that there is 0.05 grams of alcohol in every 100 milliliters of your blood.
Since the body processes alcohol at around one standard drink per hour, the BAC reduces over time, unless more alcohol is consumed.
Even very small amounts of alcohol can affect concentration, judgment and performance. This may be important where a high degree of skill is needed, or if the safety of others is involved. These situations include recreational and occupational activities such as water sports, skiing, using complex equipment or heavy machinery or farm machinery, and driving.
Reducing the BAC (sobering up) takes time. The more alcohol you consume, the longer it takes for the BAC to return to zero. Cold showers, exercise, black coffee, fresh air or vomiting will not speed up the process. After a heavy drinking session, your BAC may still be over 0.05 per cent the next morning.
Even after the BAC returns to zero, your concentration, judgment and performance may still be impaired from the effects of a hangover.
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