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Module 5: Alcohol & Drugs

Module 5 – Alcohol & Drugs – begins with a quiz on the effects of alcohol after the following introductory statement:
We can teach you how to defend yourself, but all the self-defense training in the world does you no good if you are passed out at a party.  We can tell you not to drink or use drugs and that it’s illegal, and you should listen to us, but someday, some of you will drink legally or illegally no matter what we say.  So we’re going to talk about alcohol. 
Here are the basics: One beer contains about 5% alcohol by volume, sometimes more, sometimes less.  The container will generally post alcohol by volume and you should figure that out before you ever drink anything, no matter how old you are.

Wine contains 14-20% alcohol by volume, or roughly 3 times more than beer.  That means that if one person is consuming beer and the other person consumes the same amount of wine, the person drinking wine will consume three times more alcohol than the person drinking beer.  Wine bottles also list alcohol by volume.  Again, anytime you are consuming anything, you want to know how much alcohol is in there no matter your age.

Liquor is generally between 40-50% alcohol by volume.  That means it can be 10 times more potent than beer.  Some liquors are nearly 100% alcohol, particularly grain alcohol.  When mixed into punches or mixed drinks, it is often hard to tell how much alcohol is in there.  It is a huge mistake to drink something containing alcohol when you don’t know the amount of alcohol it contains. 

Detail In-Training Survey Results: What do you know about alcohol?

Quiz votes can be by hand or by electronic means.  S/HE prefers a program called “Mentimeter” for electronic voting, which participants access through their mobile phones.  The results below were taken from a training of 11th grade girls and their mothers who were members of the Dallas, Texas chapter of the National Charity League on September 11, 2016.  

Answer: 18 oz.  If packed full of ice first, 10 oz.  If a Solo cup is filled to the rim with beer, then that is 1.5 beers, not one beer (beers typically come in 12 oz. containers). 

Answer: 3.  Keep in mind that most shots are served in 1.5 oz. quantities, in which case the answer would be 2.  A BAC of .08 means you are legally presumed unable to drive.  Shots are a bad idea because it is very difficult to monitor alcohol intake and a significant amount of alcohol is being digested rapidly.  Even experienced drinkers have trouble monitoring their alcohol intake when doing shots.  Shots do not save calories because liquor is very concentrated: each shot typically has 100 calories, more calories than in 12 oz. of light beer.

Answer: One.  The graphics below explain. 

Answer: Obviously that was a terrible idea, and the old witch seduced Snow White into it by claiming the apple had magical powers.  Young people are similarly seduced into unsafe consumption through drinking games, attractive delivery (Jello shots, for example), or peer pressure. 

Answer: Everyone knows not to eat an open piece of candy.  Yet how many girls will throw away that open piece of candy they got trick or treating from the retired accountant who has lived next door for 30 years with his wife and (now grown) kids, but will take any open drink offered to them by someone they barely (or don’t) know at a co-ed party where parents are not present?  Which situation is truly more dangerous?  That your neighbor will try and poison you in your home, or that one of many people at a party will attempt to incapacitate and violate you?  A co-ed environment is the absolute worst place to experiment with drugs or alcohol. 

Answer: It is either an idiot amateur mixologist or someone trying to incapacitate you.  Neither one is good.  As is typical, the punch pictured above is mixed in a bathtub, so you get not only a delicious punch of unknown origin and alcohol content, but also a sample of everything that comes off a person when they shower, such as dead skin, hair, and fecal matter.   Yum!  Another recipe called for mixing the punch in a garbage can and advised “Cleaning trash can prior is optional”.  Also, anyone at the party can tamper with an open bowl (or bathtub or garbage can) of punch.  Drugs like roofies (Rohypnol) are readily available and cause sudden severe intoxication and amnesia.  One college punch taken to a lab was found to contain Drano, a chemical product used to unclog drains. 

Answer: The beer.  That virtually every person got this right demonstrates not only an understanding of the content but also the advanced ability to apply principles taught in the class to real-world situations that were not discussed and seem counter-intuitive.  The water could be compromised.  The unopened single can of beer is the safest option. 

Rough alcohol equivalencies


All of this can vary significantly, but generally: 


12 oz beer =  ~4 oz wine = ~1 oz liquor


Beer typically comes in 12 oz bottles or cans.  Beer from a tap is typically served in a 16 oz glass.  “Malt liquor” generally has more alcohol than beer.  Some brewers are making beers that are fortified with higher alcohol conent, some of which are called “ice” beers.  Many (but not all) micro-brews are also higher in alcohol content.  It is sometimes hard to tell from the look or name of the beer how much alcohol it contains. 

For example, one might assume that the lighter, gluten free beer pictured on the left is lower in calories and alcohol than the dark, heavy looking beer pictured on the right.  Yet the beer on the left has 206 calories and is 8.5% alcohol by volume (higher alcohol usually means higher calories).  The beer on the right has 125 calories and is 4.2% alcohol by volume.  So the same amount of the beer on the left contains twice as much alcohol as the beer on the right.  It is wise – even for adults – to check the alcohol by volume (“ABV”) of any drink before consuming it.  The ABV is generally posted on the can or bottle, and any decent bartender will know the ABV of what is on tap. 


Glass sizes for wine vary dramatically, but many hold over 18 oz, so a “glass” of wine is very rarely even half full.  Some types of wine have higher alcohol content than others.  Desert wines, “ice” wines, and “fortified” wines tend to be higher in alcohol content. 

Summary: Alcohol is the predator's weapon of choice, and, like Snow White’s apple, is offered in an enticing manner that proves irresistible to many young people.  As a teacher, you went to college and it was probably unthinkable as a freshman that one of your classmates would violate your body while you were passed out. 

But this behavior is nothing new.  One of the first stories in the Bible recounts the use of wine to force incestuous rapes:


30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ 33 So they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. 34 On the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Look, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.


Genesis 19:30-36 (NRSVACE).


Through this program, we seek to create a new way of thinking about an old problem: don’t do it, but if you do, know exactly what you are putting into your body and the extreme risk of experimentation in certain environments.


Finally, please review again the images on this page.  These are the images our students are confronted with concerning alcohol.  On this page, we have 2 arguably negative images and 7 arguably positive images, but in real life, the images are overwhelmingly positive.  Spending on alcohol advertising has increased 400% over the last four decades, and a review of pro-alcohol v. anti-alcohol advertising found the anti-alcohol advertising to be of lower quality, less effective, and in many cases counter-productive. 


Advertising aside, we attempted to capture on this page what our young people will see at parties, except they will see it live and in motion, and it will prove very seductive for many of them.  We cannot stress enough the significant negative consequences of drug and alcohol experimentation in these environments.  This is the single most important lesson you will teach at this class.  Not even Rhonda Rousey can protect herself if she’s incapacitated.


Candy on Halloween is also very seductive, and every child knows that you always throw away an open piece of candy that you get while trick or treating.  If we can make the prohibition of drinking anything of unknown drug or alcohol content a logical extension of the Halloween candy rule, we will save many young people from serious harm.

Following this module, invite students to stand and learn how to escape being choked from behind.  Make sure to include escaping both choking by the hands and by means of a headlock. 


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