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Alcohol and Alcohol Poisoning

University of Wyoming Student Health Service

Alcohol Information

How much alcohol is safe?
No level of alcohol consumption can be regarded as safe. It should generally be avoided during pregnancy, and with a strong family/personal history of alcohol abuse or dependence. 17.6 million (1 in 12) Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or are dependant, with alcohol problems are highest in 18-29 year olds.

How are abuse/dependence defined?

  • Abuse: use of alcohol to excess on individual occasions or as a regular practice.
  • Dependence: a chronic strong craving for alcohol, or constant or periodic reliance on alcohol despite adverse consequences.
  • A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health stated that 1 in 3 college students qualified as abusing alcohol, and 1 in 17 could be diagnosed as alcohol dependant.


Where does the University of Wyoming stand with regards to alcohol?
In-coming freshman desiring to register prior to the last day of registration must complete an on-line program with a testing score of at least 75%. Those receiving a ticket/warning for an alcohol-related violation may be referred to the AWARE (Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research, & Education) program for alcohol education. Policies & Aware program information regarding campus use of alcohol can be found on WyoWeb.

What is the concern about alcohol use in a college setting?
National consequences of collegiate alcohol abuse per year:

  • 1400 deaths
  • 500,000 injuries; 600,000 assaults
  • 70,000 reports of sexual abuse
  • 400,000 self reports of unsafe sex
  • 2.1 million drunk driving incidents
  • 110,000 incidents requiring police involvement
  • Average college setting alcohol use: 
    • U of WY = 18%
    • National = 24%

What is moderate drinking? What is binge drinking?

Moderate drinking – females 1 drink/day; males 2 drinks/day
** This refers to the amount on a single day and is not intended as an average over several days.

Binge drinking – on a single occasion within two hours

  • • Females - 4 or more drinks
  • • Males – 5 or more drinks

Does alcohol affect women differently?
Yes. Females become more impaired than males drinking the same amount. This is due to lower water content in female bodies. Alcohol mixes with body water, so is more concentrated in females. 

How does alcohol affect the body?
Alcohol is absorbed quickly in the stomach and small intestine. Effects can be noted in the central nervous system – especially the brain – within seconds. Alcohol is metabolized by liver enzymes but slowly & in small amounts, leaving the excess alcohol in the blood stream.

Is beer or wine safer than hard liquor?
No. There is relatively no difference between a 12 oz. beer, a 5 oz glass of wine, or 1-2 oz of hard liquor (usual amount found in a mixed drink). 

What are the dangers of drinking?
There are increased risks for liver damage, liver and esophageal cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis (thinning bones), trauma and accidents.

What Happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then a danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication. You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?

  • Know the danger signals (above)
  • Do not wait for all the symptoms to be present
  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die
  • If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help; don’t try to guess the level of drunkenness

What Can Happen to Someone with Alcohol Poisoning That Goes Untreated?

  • Victim chokes on his or her own vomit
  • Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops
  • Heart beats irregularly or stops
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature
  • Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures
  • Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death
  • Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage
  • Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet, a dare, or “beer pong”) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious
Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed - remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.


How do I know if I have a drinking problem?

  • Do you feel like you have a problem?
  • Are you annoyed by people criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you felt bad or guilty about drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink 1st thing in the morning to “steady nerves”, or get rid of a hangover?
Yes to one question suggests possible problem.
Yes to more than one highly likely to be a problem.


** If you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem **
Contact a medical provider - Student Health Service 766-2130
Confidential counseling – University Counseling Center 766-2187
AWARE program – part of UCC - for information regarding alcohol education and prevention programs
Alcoholics Anonymous - Laramie District #10 – answering machine 745-3320

**If you find you need transportation**
Saferide   766-RIDE (7433)
Set routes for public transportation from 7-10:00 pm
Transportation from any location to any other location
Thursday – Saturday 10:00 pm – 2:00 am

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Student Health Service

Student Health/Cheney International Building

Department 3068

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2130

TeleType: (307) 766-2132

Fax: (307) 766-2711



Phone: (307) 766-6602

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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