Alcohol Awareness Month: Definitions

There are a multitude of topics a person could zero in on when discussing the topic of alcohol awareness. It was always enlightening to discover the vast difference between what I thought the meaning of a term was and the actual definition of it as it pertained to alcohol. For instance, if someone were to have asked me (prior to my getting sober) what 'binge drinkin' was I would have said, "Drinking so much that you pass out, get sick or can’t walk." I was slightly off in my understanding of the definition.

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Alcohol Awareness Month - Definitions

Most illnesses have a multitude of terms, symptoms and characteristics that are associated with that particular disease. Alcoholism is no different. Denial and a lack of knowledge about alcohol issues allowed me to define terms based on my own opinions. How convenient! Armed with my own definitions I progressed further into my drinking without fully realizing that I had a serious problem. Becoming educated about the facts that are associated with alcohol shined a light on the truth of the matter.

Alcohol Awareness: Definitions

Alcohol Abuse: alcohol use that causes either physical or mental damage. Alcoholism: a disease characterized by being chronic, progressive and sometimes fatal. It can also be defined as those who continue to drink despite recurrent social, interpersonal and legal problems.

Alcohol Related Seizure: The severity of alcohol withdrawal depends on various factors including age, genetics, and, most importantly, degree of alcohol intake and length of time the individual has been using alcohol Symptoms can include sleep disturbances, anxiety to very severe and life threatening convulsions, which may result in death). These symptoms appear characteristically on waking, due to the fall in the blood alcohol concentration during sleep.

BAC: Blood alcohol content is the percentage of alcohol in the blood. For instance, a BAC of 0.10 means that 0.10% of a person's blood, by volume, is alcohol (one tenth of one percent.) It can by measured by breath, blood or urine. In all 50 states the level at which a person is considered impaired is .08 and it is considered a crime.

Binge Drinking: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration [BAC] to 0.08 grams percent or above. For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks [men], or four or more drinks [women], in about 2 hours.

Blackout: when an individual has no memory of what happened while intoxicated. They can be functioning and acting relatively normal. Research has indicated that this may be due to the brain's diminished ability to store or transfer data from short term memory to long term memory.

Alcohol Awareness

Depressant: A drug which lowers arousal and excitability. Effects from depressants can include pain relief, sedation, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure or heart rate, respiratory depression and in some instances euphoria. Alcohol is classified as a depressant has depressive qualities on the central nervous system.

Drug: The World Health Organization defines a drug as "any substance that, when taken into a living organism, may modify one of more of its functions." Alcohol is classified as a drug.

Intoxicated: a physiological state that occurs when a person has a high level of ethanol (alcohol) in their blood. Symptoms can include coordination problems, difficulty or slurred speech, reduced inhibitions and erratic behavior. At higher levels vomiting, coma and death can occur.

Pass-out: a loss of consciousness from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. This can be very dangerous as a person may choke if they vomit while unconscious or they may slip into a coma as a result of the parts of brain responsible for heartbeat and respiration becoming depressed and shutting down.

Wet brain: (Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome) is a condition usually found in chronic alcoholics which is characterized by coordination and memory problems.

About the Author

Angie Carter, CRADC, SAP is a certified reciprocal alcohol and drug counselor and DOT certified Substance Abuse Professional. She is in private practice at Carter Counseling & Consulting Services. Angie sees local clients in office and is also available for telephone coaching and/or consultation. Click here to contact Angie with appointment requests, questions, or feedback.