Terms You Should Know About Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol

A colorless, flammable liquid that is made or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches. It is used in a variety of things such as drugs, cleaning solutions, explosives, and beverages.

Alcoholic

A person who is alcohol-dependent and displays the symptoms of alcoholism.

Alcoholism

A disease or illness where a person continues drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. Symptoms include craving, impaired control, physical dependence, and increased tolerance.

Alcohol Abuse

A pattern of problem drinking that results in health consequences, social problems, or both. Different from alcoholism or alcohol dependence.

Alcohol Poisoning

A serious, and sometimes deadly, result of consuming too much alcohol. When your body absorbs too much alcohol, it can directly impact your central nervous system, slowing your breathing, heart rate and gag reflex. This can lead to choking, coma and even death.

Detoxification

The process of safely getting alcohol out of one's system.

Intoxicated

More commonly referred to as being drunk. Someone who is intoxicated has slower mental and physical responses and decreased awareness because of having consumed alcohol.

Proof

A description of the amount of alcohol in an alcoholic substance. It is twice the percentage of alcohol by volume: 100 proof is 50% alcohol and 200 proof is 100% alcohol. Most hard liquors come in 80 proof, i.e. 40% alcohol by volume. This was originally derived from trying to prove whether whiskey was good or not.

The Standard Measure of Alcohol

In the U.S., a standard drink has about half an ounce (about 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer or wine cooler (Usually 1 bottle)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine (About a glass)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or “liquor” (About a shot)