Drinking smart

Drinking-smartAlcohol and drug use is a serious concern in the workplace, especially if your job performance can jeopardize the safety of your co-workers or yourself. In some workplaces, a zero tolerance for alcohol and drug use is a part of the hiring discussion. If you are unclear as to what your work place policy is, ask your supervisor or human resources officer.

Going for a drink after work is a great way to socialize, but knowing the risks and limits are important.


  • Binge drinking for women is four or more drinks and men five or more in a single occasion.
  • Alcohol requires no digestion. It is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain where it passes through the three main areas: the frontal lobe, midbrain and hindbrain.
  • The frontal lobe is the area that controls judgment, slows down reaction time and decreases inhibition and reasoning. It is what creates the alcohol “buzz”. Once alcohol affects the midbrain, there is a loss of muscle control, lack of co-ordination and slurred speech. But it is the effect on the hindbrain which is the most dangerous as it controls basic bodily functions, such as respiration and heart rate. When a blood alcohol content reaches 0.41, there is a 50 per cent chance of death.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes your body about an hour to completely process one drink (defined as 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of spirits or five ounces of wine).
  • Blood alcohol content peaks 30 to 90 minutes after the last drink has been ingested.
  • Long term, alcohol use affects major organs of the body such as liver and heart, and is implicated in certain forms of cancer and pancreatic problems.


  • Drinking black coffee, walking or cold showers do not speed up the sobering process. Only time does.
  • As blood alcohol levels increase, so does sexual activity. However, sexual performance declines and male sperm counts decrease.
  • Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines which can lead to vomiting.
  • Alcohol increases blood flow to the skin, which causes flushing and sweating leading to a reduction in body temperature.
  • Recent studies indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol, two drinks per day for men and one for women, has beneficial effects on the heart.

The addiction factor

Alcohol is a psychologically addictive drug. It eases stress and anxiety and therefore becomes a crutch used in any situation that may cause stress. Plus, the more someone drinks, the more they believe they need alcohol to get through the day.

Signs of alcohol addiction include:

  • Drinking to avoid stressful situations
  • Drinking alone at all hours of the day
  • Drinking to excess and experiencing “blackouts”
  • The belief that you need another drink to get through the day

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