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Health Sciences 1001A/B Lecture Notes - Blood Alcohol Content, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Ethanol

Health Sciences
Course Code
HS 1001A/B
Shauna Burke

of 2
Chapter 10: Alcohol Use
Required Reading:
Ch. 10, pp. 271-296
Health Canada (2004):
79.3% of Canadians reported alcohol consumption in past year
44% reported drinking weekly
Males more likely than females to report drinking in past year
Highest drinking rates among 18-24 year olds
Approx. 95% of university students consume alcoholic beverages (Addiction Research
Through automobile crashes and other injuries, alcohol is the leading cause of death among
people ages 15-24
Ethyl alcohol is the common psychoactive ingredient in all alcoholic beverages
When consumed, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream from small intestine, stomach, colon
It is then distributed throughout the body’s tissues, affecting nearly every body system
Main site of alcohol metabolism = liver - transforms alcohol into energy and other products
Body can typically metabolize approx. ½ -3/4 of a drink in 1 hour (8.5 grams)
If more alcohol is consumed than is metabolized, blood alcohol concentration(BAC) will steadily
increase, as will level of intoxication (0.08 is the driving limit)
BAC depends on:
o Sex
o Weight ‘heavier people have more AREA to diffuse alcohol’ - Laura
o Body fat
o Water content in body’s tissues
o Concentration of alcohol in beverage
o Rate of consumption
o Volume of alcohol consumed
Effects of Chronic Use of Alcohol
Average lifespan of alcohol abusers is 10-12 years shorter than that of nonabusers
Cirrhosis - Liver cells are destroyed and replaced with fibrous scar tissue resulting in a fatty liver
Inflammation of pancreas causing nausea, vomiting, abnormal digestion, abdominal pain (high
blood pressure, weakening of heart muscle)
Cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, weakening of heart muscle)
Related to oral cancer, cancers of the esophagus, liver, stomach, pancreas, possibly breast
Effects of Chronic Use of Alcohol
Linked to asthma, gout (acute attack arthritis in joints), diabetes, recurrent infections,
nutritional deficiencies, nervous system diseases
Psychiatric problems paranoia, memory loss, memory gaps
Drinking during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal alcohol syndrome, or
alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (the child may be really small, mentally impaired,
learning problems, memory problems, cognitive impairments)
Alcohol Abuse
Recurrent alcohol use that has negative consequences, such as drinking in dangerous situations,
or drinking patterns that result in academic, professional, interpersonal, or legal difficulties”
(physical dependence may or may not be present, they are always negative consequences to the
person’s life to some extent)
Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) involves more extensive problems with alcohol use, usually
including physical tolerance and withdrawal
One does not have to be an alcoholic/dependent on alcohol to have problems with alcohol
Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Drinking alone or secretively
Using alcohol deliberately and repeatedly to perform or get through difficult situations (coping
Feeling uncomfortable on occasions when alcohol is not available
Increased alcohol consumption beyond an already established drinking pattern(people can go
years with having a couple of glasses on wine a week but they can go over this pattern and
Consuming alcohol in risky situations, such as before driving
Getting drunk regularly or more frequently than in the past
Drinking in the morning or other unusual times
University students spend over 5.5 billion dollars a year on alcohol, this is more than the cost of
textbooks, coffee, juice and tea combined
Binge Drinking
Defined as having 5 drinks in a row for men and 4 in a row for women within 2 hours(blood
alcohol concentration is above 0.8)
Survey of students on > 100 college campuses:
o 44% reported binge drinking on at least 1 occasion in the 2 weeks prior to survey
o 23% were frequent binge drinkers (at least 3 binges during the 2-week period)
o Men were more likely to binge than women
o White students had higher rates than students of other ethnicities
o 19% abstained from alcohol (just in the two weeks prior to the survey)
Frequent binge drinkers more likely than nonbinge drinkers to:
o Engage in unplanned or unprotected sex
o To drive after drinking
o To get hurt or injured
o Miss classes and get behind in schoolwork
o Argue with friends
Nonbinge drinkers bothered by drinking related behaviours of binge drinkers:
o Sleep or studying disruptions
o Taking care of drunken student
o Unwanted sexual advances
o Being pushed, hit, or assaulted