According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010.  Alcohol use also shortened the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.  1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years is due to excessive drinking. 

Standard Drink:

12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
1.5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).4

Binge drinking:

4+ drinks during a single occasion for women
5+ drinks during a single occasion for men

Short-Term Health Risks

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners

Long-Term Health Risks

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism

[Adapted from Fact Sheet – Alcohol Use and Your Health by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,]

Myths and Your Body

Myth: You can sober up quickly if you have to.

Fact:   Nothing speeds up the sobering up process, not a hot cup of coffee nor a cold shower.  Depending on your weight, it takes about 3 hours to eliminate the alcohol content of two drinks.


Myth:  Beer doesn’t have as much alcohol as hard liquor.

Fact:  Alcohol is alcohol.  Standard doses, one 12-ounce can of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, one standard shot of 80-proof liquor (either straight or in a mixed drink) have the same amount of alcohol. They are equally intoxicating.


Myth: Drinking isn’t dangerous.

Fact: One in three 18 to 24 year olds admitted to emergency rooms for serious injuries is intoxicated.  Alcohol is associated with sexual assaults, suicides, drownings and homicides.


Myth: I can drive after a few drinks.

Fact: About one-half of all fatal traffic crashes among 18 to 24 year olds involve alcohol.  The risk of a fatal crash for drivers with positive blood alcohol contents (BACs) compared with other drivers increases with increasing BAC an the risk increases more steeply for drivers younger than age 21 than for older drivers.

[Adapted from Alcohol Myths provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at NIH,]

Your Body

Alcohol negatively impacts at least seven of your major organs: brain, stomach, pancreas, liver, heart, kidneys and lungs.  Alcohol is the cause of short-term and long-term damage that may affect your cognitive abilities and body function.  The following interactive demonstration by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at NIH highlights the effects of alcohol on one’s body:

Alcohol Poisoning

Critical Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  • When someone seems confused, is in a stupor, or cannot be awakened (incoherent and/or non-responsive) - You Need to Act!
  • When someone is vomiting or is having seizures - You Need to Act!
  • When someone is breathing slowly or showing signs of irregular breathing - You Need to Act!
  • If someone's body temperature is too cold, the person is turning blue or is uncharacteristically pale in color - You Need to Act!
Concerns with Alcohol Poisoning
  • A person can choke on their vomit and suffer from dehydration from vomiting.
  • A person's breathing can slow, become irregular, or just stop.
  • A person's heartbeat can become irregular, slow down, or stop.
  • A person's body temperature can become too low.
  • A person can suffer from seizures if their blood sugar level goes too low.
  • A person who doesn't have an advocate when suffering from alcohol poisoning can eventually develop brain damage, and if left untreated, die.
  • All the signs of alcohol poisoning don't have to be present for the person to be in serious danger.

How You Can Help Someone Suffering from Alcohol Poisoning

  • Be Heroic. Be a Saint. Be an Active Bystander.
  • Be aware of the danger signs for alcohol poisoning.
  • Don't just watch and wait – notice the event, interpret it as a problem, feel responsible to act, know what to do and intervene safely. 
  • Call Public Safety for help (518-783-2999).  Do not hesitate because you don't want to get your friend into trouble.  A person with alcohol poisoning IS already in trouble and EVERY SECOND COUNTS!

Siena College’s Welfare of the Community (Amnesty) policy has got your back!  It is safe to get help for someone who has had too much to drink, even if you have been drinking too