IN the News

Alcohol Poisoning A Reality, Not a Myth

So far, a lot of the content we have addressed at Aware awake Alive has to do with College students and the binge drinking culture at University but I was shocked and saddened to read a recent article published by Cary Quashen at California Radio station KHTS, which highlights the tragic reality about teen drinking. TEENS. That's right, I said teens and we're not talking 17, I recently read about 14 year old Takeimi Rao who died of alcohol poisoning at her own slumber party. Not exactly the hair braiding, Breakfast Club watching event I was used to at such a tender age. (And on a separate note: those of you who haven't seen The Breakfast Club, I highly recommend it).

The national problem of binge drinking is starting at very young ages and Quashen claims that (not surprisingly) the people most likely to be vulnerable to the type of alcohol abuse that can have this kind of destructive effect are teenagers. Not cool considering we need them to eventually grow up and oh I don't know, run the country?

"6,000 to 7,000 deaths occur each year from alcohol overdosing, drinking too much alcohol too fast" and Alcohol Overdosing is thought to be "no different than any other drug overdose." Which is a relevant point to make. We are still talking about a drug, right? No matter how socially acceptible it may be, it is a still technically a drug. The thing is, alcohol drinking is legal (assuming you are of age) and we're told that drinking is not as harmful as a lot of the other recreational drugs but that's assuming that the users are being responsible and not abusing the drug.

So here's the other thing. We are told throughout our lives a whole bunch of information about drinking that we readily accept as truth. There's a lot of preconceived notions about drinking like, if you vomit it up, it isn't in your system anymore. right? WRONG!

Also, the idea that you can down a couple drinks in a hour, then drink some coffee to sober up. what a joke. Alcohol leaves the body of most folks at a constant rate of about .015 percent of blood alcohol content (BAC) per hour. So, a person with a BAC of .015 would be completely sober in an hour while a person with a BAC of ten times that (.15) would require 10 hours to become completely sober. Not rocket science. The more you drink, the more it affects your system, the longer it takes to LEAVE the system. This is true regardless of sex, age, weight, and similar factors.The coffee isn't going to help (it may give you a slight perk assuming you don't miss your mouth, but if you are really drunk, only time will help.)

The article talks about some of the experiences Quashen has had with teen alcohol abuse (more sad stuff) and he does a darn good job of explaining the mechanics of alcohol poisoning, and what to look for. He also lists a whole bunch of myths (and the truth to them) which may or may not blow your socks off. Here's a common myth he mentions in the article:

"MYTH: Beer before liquor, never been sicker - liquor before beer, you're in the clear. (heard that one before!!)
TRUTH: This is an old urban legend used to explain why people get sick when they drink - but it's just not true. Your blood alcohol content (also known as BAC, the percentage of alcohol in your blood) is what determines how drunk you are. It doesn't matter what type of alcohol you chose to consume - a drink is a drink, and too much of any combination can make you sick."

BUSTED! So this may be stupid to admit, but I didn't actually realize that one was false. Oops. I've always known that the mixing of alcohol can make you feel pretty awful and a lot depends on what you have eaten, how much water you have drunk, etc. but I believed the bit about beer first. Feeling sheepish...

For more, you can check out the full article (well worth the read) or just learn more myth busters here.

Cary Quashen is a high-risk teen counselor and a certified addiction specialist. He is the president and founder of the ACTION Parent & Teen Support Programs and ACTION Family Counseling. The ACTION Parent & Teen Support Program meets every Tuesday at Canyon High School.


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