Alcohol Information

Alcohol 101

What is Alcohol?

Ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant found in beer, wine, and other liquors. It is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.  The effects of alcohol on the body are directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed and vary based on a person's weight, food consumption, metabolism, and how quickly the alcohol is consumed. At low doses, alcohol can have relaxing effects but slows reaction time and can impair judgment. At higher doses, alcohol can poison the body, causing a coma state and can lead to death.

What is BAC?

BAC stands for blood alcohol content, which is also referred to as "blood alcohol concentration" or "blood alcohol level." BAC is a measure of the ratio of alcohol in the blood. It is dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes in a given time frame, gender, body weight, food consumed, family history, and other factors.  BAC is affected by not only how much alcohol you drink, but also the type of alcohol you drink. Different types of drinks contain different amounts of alcohol. In general, "one drink" means:

  • One 12 ounce beer (at 4% alcohol);
  • One 5 ounce glass of wine (at 11% alcohol); or
  • One 1.5 ounce shot of liquor (40% alcohol or 80 proof)

Keep in mind: mixed drinks are not always measured and sometimes contain multiple servings of alcohol. A Long Island Iced Tea, for example, could contain 5 drinks in one!

What are the negative effects of alcohol?

There are many negative consequences that come with excessive alcohol use.  These negative consequences may include:

acquaintance Rape

Sexual Assault

unintentional pregnancy

contraction of STI's

academic problems


lack of adequate sleep

alcohol poisoning

increased accidents/injuries


loss of respect

violent behavior

poor decision making skills


mood swings

financial problems

relationship problems

impaired judgement

weight gain

effects on the Central Nervous System

How can you drink low-risk?

Low risk drinking means being focused on your health and safety.  You choose what is low risk for you; abstinence or acquiring skills to keel your drinking low-risk.  The following skills and guidelines will assist you in decreasing the negative consequences associated with high-risk drinking:

  • Keep track of your drinks
  • Be aware of certain people, places and things that may cause you to drink more
  • Know how alcohol effects your body
  • Know your limits and set your limits
  • Do not drink and drive
  • Avoid drinking games
  • Go out with reliable friends
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach
  • Drink for quality and not quantity
  • alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages
  • Refuse drinks if you have had enough