Alcohol Q&A

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Are DD cards only for students?

HPO’s Designated Driver cards are a business-card sized resource with the phone numbers of three cab companies and two limo companies.  Most also include a discounted rate with an NMU ID. They are great to keep in your wallet for anytime you or a friend need a safe and affordable ride home. They are for the use of students, faculty, staff, and anyone in the community. The yellow and green DD cards are available in approximately 100 locations around the community and on campus, including many local bars and restaurants, the front desks of the dorms, Wells Fargo bank, outside the Health Promotion Office, the PEIF, and more. Please keep a DD card on hand for yourself and pass one along to a friend!

Does alcohol kill brain cells?

The behaviors observed in someone who has been drinking make it obvious that alcohol affects the brain – slurred speech, difficulty walking, blurred vision, impaired memory, and slowed reaction time. The affects that alcohol has on the brain is a hot research topic and there is still a lot to be learned. We do know that drinking large amounts of alcohol over long periods may cause serious and persistent changes to the brain. High doses of alcohol may also disrupt the growth of new brain cells. Someone who drinks heavily over a long period time may still have brain deficits long after achieving sobriety. But alcohol affects everyone differently. Some people are more vulnerable to brain damage than others.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2004), “A number of factors influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain, including:

  • how much and how often a person drinks

  •  the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she has been drinking

  • the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism

  • whether he or she is at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure; and

  • his or her general health status.”

Drinking in moderation will help prevent brain damage. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is a great resource for information about alcohol.    

     (Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

Is there a way to prevent a hangover besides not drinking?  What about reducing the intensity of a hangover?
Most people who have consumed too much alcohol have experienced a hangover of some sort.  Hangovers can have a wide variety of symptoms - headache, stomachache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dehydration, and body aches.  The only sure way to prevent a hangover is to not consume alcohol, but there are certain things a person can do to reduce the symptoms - most of which require planning ahead of time.

  • Pace yourself - most hangovers are caused by consuming too much alcohol too quickly. 
  • Drink slowly
  • Sip your drinks
  • Dilute your drinks
  • Do not do shots
  • Add in non-alcoholic beverages
  • Do not mix types of alcohols consumed
  • Drink plenty of water before going out, while you are drinking, and before going to bed
  • Eat a substantial meal before drinking and possibly a light snack if you feel queasy
  • Take ibuprofen for any aches (Avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol))

Contrary to many beliefs, coffee, Vitamin B, a cold shower, or physical activity will not cure a hangover.  Time is the only thing that will, but drinking plenty of fluids to reduce dehydration is also important.

For more information on preventing/reducing a hangover, check out Go Ask Alice! or some of the other alcohol-related links on our website.

How do you know you're an alcoholic?

For many people, their drinking patterns fall into the healthy, normal range.  But, for others, there may be a problem with alcohol leading to abuse or addiction.  There are several warning signs or indicators that there may be an alcohol problem.  The Mayo Clinic lists twelve of these warning signs.

  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Inability to limit amount of alcohol consumed
  • Experiencing blackouts
  • Making a ritual of having drinks before, with or after dinner and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned.
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities that used to bring pleasure
  • Feeling a need or compulsion to drink
  • Irritability when normal drinking time approaches, especially if alcohol is not available
  • Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in the car
  • Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good or drinking to feel "normal"
  • Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances
  • Building a tolerance to alcohol so that an increased number of drinks is necessary to feel alcohol's effects
  • Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking, when not drinking

To take a quick alcohol screening test, go to Neither the alcohol screening or these signs can give a true diagnosis of a drinking problem.  If a person thinks they or a friend may have a problem with alcohol, they should know there are a lot of resources they can turn to for help.  Some of the links are on our website, others are available online or through our office.

How do I know how many standard drinks I am drinking?

One standard drink is normally a 12-oz. beer, a 5-oz. glass of wine, or a 1.5-oz. shot of liquor (80-proof). A standard drink contains no more than .6 ounces of pure alcohol, which is the maximum amount of alcohol the liver can process in one hour. There is a simple formula to determine how many drinks are in your glass. Multiply the number of ounces in the container by the percentage of alcohol for the beverage. Then divide by .6 (the amount of alcohol in one standard drink)

.For example:

Rum and coke with 40% alcohol
2 ounces x .40 = .8
.8/.6 = 1.33 standard drinks

Rum and coke with 75% alcohol
2 ounces x .75 = 1.5
1.5/.6 = 2.5 standard drinks

To remain within lower-risk guidelines, the first drink would be sipped over 90 minutes, while the second would be sipped over 2.5 hours.

A 16-ounce bottle of beer that contains 8% alcohol is equivalent to 2.133 standard drinks. If consumed in one hour, a 160-pound male would have an approximate BAC of .036, while a 130-pound female’s would be approximately .058.You can make lower-risk choices by learning the definition of a standard drink and how

More information can be found on Rethinking Drinking.
This site has a BAC calculator, and alcohol impairment chart, and information about the effects of BAC on your body.   

  (Source:  Bacchus Network and National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)


While we hope that you will find this information helpful, please be aware that this information should not be substituted for professional advice. By submitting a question, you agree that the Northern Michigan University Health Promotion Office is not responsible for any situation that occurs as a result of, or is negatively influenced by, advice or answers given.If your situation puts you or anyone else in danger or potential danger, please seek professional help.Your question and the answer from the staff at the HPO may be edited. Your name and any identifying details will be removed. If you would prefer your question not be posted, please indicate this in your original question. We cannot guarantee we will answer every question, and we reserve the right to discard any question deemed to be unsuitable at our discretion.