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Developing an alcohol tolerance and getting DUIs

The legal consequences of drinking alcohol and being social are serious and are usually not explained enough to the younger population. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol, each year an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

In the United States a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Excessive drinking, or binge drinking for women constitutes four or more drinks during a single occasion and for men it constitutes five or more drinks during a single occasion. Heavy drinking for women is considered drinking eight or more drinks a week and for men it’s 15 or more drinks per week (CDC 2014).

It’s important for people of all ages to understand legal drinking limits, recognize the warning signs that they may be drinking too much, as well as know the legal ramifications surrounding the activity of drinking. Such information could prevent unnecessary vehicle accidents, injuries, deaths and arrests.

Recognizing addiction to alcohol

Studies show that addiction and dependence to alcohol can be progressive; however, with some people it can start at the very first drink. The progression of the disease of alcoholism can vary. However it starts though it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs that oneself or a loved one is addicted to alcohol

  • An inability to stop drinking despite knowing the negative ramifications of their use
  • Needing to drink to enjoy activities or function on a daily basis
  • Needing more alcohol to gain the desired effect, also known as tolerance
  • Spending excessive amounts of time recovering from a drinking binge
  • NEglecting activities and responsibilities that do not include the opportunity to drink or access alcohol
  • Suffering severe hangovers
  • Exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake is cut down or halted

Learned tolerance

Scientists believe that learned tolerance to alcohol increases every time a person drinks. Engaging in risky behavior such as drinking and driving becomes far more prevalent when tolerance to alcohol is developed. Studies show that drinking lower levels of alcohol while engaging in some other hand/eye coordination task, such as playing pool or doing college homework, increases a person’s tolerance to alcohol. Some people might perceive their performance in certain activities as stronger or better in one way or another, when under the influence of alcohol (LeBlanc 1973).

Legal consequences of driving under the influence

Studies show that the risk of getting into a motor vehicle accident increases as one’s blood alcohol content level (BAC) increases (NIAA 2014). Abusing alcohol can lead to various consequences, some of which could land a person in major trouble with the law. Studies show that in the U.S almost 30 people die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve a person under the influence of alcohol (CDC 2014).

Regardless of the state a person lives in, a first-offense DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable up to six months in jail. Other consequences include suspension of one’s driver’s license, limited driving privileges, mandatory alcohol education programs or relapse prevention programs, probation, jail time and more.

Getting in trouble with the law as a result of one’s drinking is a serious sign of an alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction, there is a variety of options for help. Therapy on an individual basis can greatly assist a person in a private and confidential manner in detecting any underlying, unresolved issues that might need to be addressed. Please call the Recovery Helpline at 855-441-4405 if you would like more information on getting help for an alcohol addiction.

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