Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is a depressant, it slows the nervous system. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and spreads quickly throughout the body. The amount of pure alcohol in your bloodstream is your blood alcohol content (BAC). The time between when we first drink and begin to feel the effects of alcohol varies depending on how fast we drink, our size and gender. Within 20 minutes, the BAC can rise significantly.

Chain reaction

Drinking alcohol sets off a chain reaction, so to speak, in our brains. Each stage of impairment signals that a new area of the brain is being affected. As we continue to drink, as new areas of our brains are affected, already-felt reactions grow worse - or further impaired.

Alcohol follows a set path to other areas of the brain resulting in a predictable pattern of early and total intoxication. The last area of the brain affected by alcohol is our brain stem, which controls involuntary reflexes like telling your lungs to breathe, your heart to pump.

At toxic levels, (BAC of .35% - .50%) alcohol slows or stops the functions in the brain stem often resulting in death without early intervention.

Canadian Statistics

  • 83% of grade 12 students in Ontario admit to using alcohol
  • 49% of grade 12 students in Ontario admit to binge drinking
  • Among grade 11 drinkers in Ontario, 13 years was the average age of first exposure, and 14 years was the average age for first intoxication experience.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in Canada.
  • 24% of offenders entering federal custody (2 years' imprisonment or more) report having been under the influence of alcohol when they committed the crime
  • More than 2,700 children are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • In 2002, alcohol accounted for more than $14.6 billion in costs (that's $463 per person) and represented 36% of the total costs of substance abuse. - MADD Canada
  • Motor vehicle crashes, liver cirrhosis, suicides, oesophageal cancer, and arrhythmias were the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths. -- MADD Canada


Get the Facts

Binge drinking Involves drinking a lot of alcoholic drinks in one sitting which could lead to alcohol poisoning or severe intoxication. Both of these can be fatal.

You should call an ambulance if:

  • You can't wake up someone who has passed out from drinking too much
  • They start vomiting in their sleep
  • They start to have seizures
  • They have slow and irregular breathing and heart rate
  • They are bluish, pale and/or have cold skin
  • Alcohol is a depressant and slows down your body and brain. Caffeine has the opposite effect and increases alertness and speeds up functions.
  • If you combine the two, energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol which can lead to drinking way too much without even realizing it.
  • Mixing alcohol with other substances such as drugs (illegal or prescription) can also have serious effects such as severe impairment, accidental overdosing and even death.