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  • Writer's pictureHolly Rainwater

Good morning! Are you hungover - or just drunk.

Alcohol has been consumed throughout the world for hundreds of years. It is often referred to as a "recreational beverage" and is widley consumed in moderation for enjoyment and relaxation at home or in social gatherings. However, when consumed primarily for its mood-altering effects, it is a substance of abuse.

Alcohol is a drug. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol slows physical responses and impairs mental functions.

Every person is different; therefore, the effects of alcohol vary from person to person. These effects can be influenced by a number of risk factors such as the amount consumed, individual’s medical history, tolerance to alcohol, gender, age, physical condition, amount of food consumed, as well as other drugs – legal or illegal – mixed with alcohol.

Alcohol wasn't created equal. One drink is recognized as:

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer – approximately 5% alcohol

  • 8-9 fluid ounces of malt liquor – about 7% alcohol

  • 5 fluid ounces of wine – roughly 12% alcohol

  • 1 and 1/2 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whisky, etc.) – an estimated 40% alcohol

Alcohol is fully absorbed into the bloodstream within 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon the beverage consumed and associated food intake. The level of alcohol achieved in the blood depends in large part (although not exclusively) upon the amount of alcohol consumed and the time period over which it was consumed. Your body can process one-half to one drink per hour.

So, the next time you have a "recreational beverage", think about tomorrow. When you wake up, will you be hung over...or are you still drunk.

THIS CHART IS INTENDED FOR INDIVIDUALS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER. IT IS A GUIDE, NOT A GUARANTEE. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) charts only provide extremely rough estimates and should never be used alone to determine any individual’s safe level of drinking. BAC charts don’t take into consideration variables that contribute to the determination of BAC’s achieved such as age, water to body mass ratio, ethanol metabolism, tolerance level, drugs or medications taken, amount and type of food in the stomach during consumption, speed of consumption and general physical condition.

Information supplied by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Source: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (

Do you need help?

Any person who is affected by an alcohol or substance use problem is encouraged to seek assistance. Signs of a possible problem include:

  • sudden mood changes and lack of motivation·

  • drop in attendance and/or performance at work

  • complaints from co-workers or supervisors

  • desire to stop using, but cannot

  • continued use despite negative consequences.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Helpline: This Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or


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