Sober is safer: Thinking then drinking

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- "What are you doing this weekend?" this is a phrase that is often used without thinking. The question is asked to determine what you have planned. Many of our summer activities include drinking alcohol, either before, during, or after. Having a plan before heading out requires having as much information as possible about what you will be doing. Here is some information on alcohol to help you make the right decision before drinking alcohol.

Knowing how alcohol affects you is important to know and what you are drinking is a good starting point. According to the National Institutes of Health, beer is about five percent alcohol, although darker beers and ales can have more, wine is usually 12 to 15 percent alcohol, and hard liquor is on average 45 percent alcohol. The amount and type of food in your stomach can change how quickly alcohol enters your bloodstream. Another factor to be aware of is that a carbonated or fizzy alcoholic drink will be absorbed faster than a non-carbonated drink.

After approximately 10 minutes of drinking alcohol, an individual's breathing, heart rate and brain functions will begin to slow down. The effects of the alcohol will peak in 40 to 60 minutes. You already know that alcohol will stay in your bloodstream until it can be broken down by the liver. The amount of alcohol in your blood is called, "blood alcohol level or blood alcohol content." If you drink alcohol faster than the liver can break it down, this level will rise. Below is a list of BAC levels and the likely symptoms.

· 0.05 -- reduced inhibitions
· 0.10 -- slurred speech
· 0.20 -- euphoria and motor impairment
· 0.30 -- confusion

North Dakota law enforcement agencies as well as the 5th Security Forces Squadron have stepped up their Driving Under the Influence enforcement. In North Dakota and on Minot Air Force Base if you are operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 will earn you a DUI. For boaters you can get a Boating Under the Influence if your BAC is 0.1. You may be willing to except the personal consequences of a DUI or BUI; but can you live with yourself if you were to injure or kill someone else? This would be a heavy burden to carry with you for the remainder of your life.

Plan on enjoying your summer. Plan on having fun with friends and families. If you plan on including alcohol in your summer activities, consider this information, make a sober and safe plan, and stick to it.