drunk terms

Drunk Definitions Differ by Groups and Gender: Alcohol Abuse Research Shows that Diagnoses Complicated by Terms

Medical professionals assessing a patient’s level of alcohol usage may be mislead by differing terminology to define drunk or state of inebriation.

Medical professionals who are trying to ascertain the level of a patient’s alcohol use or abuse may be misled by differences in language and terminology, which varies between social groups and by gender. It is common for drinkers to mislead their doctor about how much they drink by using confusing language. Alcoholics may mislead doctors intentionally, but there may misunderstandings between doctor and patient because of differences in definitions of alcohol usage.

University of Missouri Study

The University of Missouri has issued a press release reporting on research which will be published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, currently available at Early View.

Alcohol’s effects described by drinkers can be very different from the terminology used by alcohol researchers, limiting the researchers’ understanding of self-reported alcohol use. The report states that new findings show that researchers could benefit by tapping into the wide spectrum of terms that drinkers may use to describe levels of intoxication. Terms also vary by gender, so researchers should study gender differences in reporting as well.

Researchers may ask how often a subject drinks to intoxication. Intoxication is perceived differently by different people. Drunk is the oldest English term to describe intoxication, but the word is used to describe varied levels of drunkenness. Drunk may reflect a level of intoxication anywhere between moderate to heavy intoxication.

According to Ash Levitt, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University ofMissouri and the corresponding author of the study, “Humans have developed a rich and diverse vocabulary of intoxication-related slang to describe the subjective states that are experienced while drinking.”

Levitt went on to state that men tend to use heavy intoxication words more than woman. Men are more likely to describe a drunken state as hammered or wasted. Women may be more likely to call themselves tipsy, underplaying their drunkenness.

Women’s tendency to underplay their level of intoxication can have profound health and social implications. Women who perceive themselves as the relatively benign tipsy may actually be binge drinking.

Effective Communication Helps Assess Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a complicated issue with implications that can affect a patient’s health, mortality, psychology and social circle. Medical professionals may be better able to access the level of a potential problem by learning to communicate effectively with patients. Effective communication includes developing listening skills and understanding the language and terminology being used by the patient.

Patients can also help to bridge the communication gap by asking the doctor or medical professional to define a term before answering a question. Although it is in the patient’s own best interest to answer questions honestly, it is up to the medical professional to ask questions about alcohol use in a clear, easy to understand manner.

Findings of the study can help clinicians improve assessments and interventions by helping medical professionals use understand the patient’s terminology.

Drunk Words

The Merriam-Webster Online Thesaurus defines Drunk as being under the influence of alcohol.


  • Drunken
  • High
  • Inebriate
  • Inebriated
  • Intoxicated
  • Loaded
  • Soused
  • Tipsy

Related Words

  • Maudlin
  • Befuddled
  • Stupefied
  • Debauched
  • Dissipated
  • Dissolute.

Researchers at University of Missouri used a web based approach to survey university undergraduates from age 17 to 24 years olds. There were 73 males and 72 females in the study. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


women alcohol abuse

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Women

Alcohol abuse or addiction hurts all those who use alcohol excessively, but women are especially vulnerable because of differences in their body size and structure and their body chemistry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that these differences cause women both to absorb more of the alcohol they drink and to take longer to metabolize it (break it down and rid it from their bodies). This is why the immediate effects of alcohol happen more quickly and last longer compared to men. These same differences also explain why women suffer greater long-term health effects from excessive drinking.

Defining Alcohol Abuse by Women

Alcohol abuse or excessive drinking by women can take two forms: heavy drinking on a regular basis and/or binge drinking. These are defined as:

  • Heavy drinking by women is consuming more than an average of one (1) drink a day.
  • Binge drinking by women is consuming four (4) or more drinks on a single occasion or in roughly a two-hour period.

Both forms of alcohol abuse are dangerous but most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent like alcoholics are.

A standard drink is defined as any one of the following (which all contain about 0.6 ounce of pure alcohol):

    • 5 ounces of wine
    • 12 ounces of beer (or 8-ounces of malt liquor)
    • 1.5 ounces (shot) of distilled spirits such as vodka, gin, rum or whiskey

Reproductive Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse by Women

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report a number of adverse effects of alcohol abuse for women of child-bearing age (18-44) including disruption of the menstrual cycle and higher risks of:

  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
  • Premature delivery
  • Having a baby that has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FADS) with the possibility of mental retardation and birth defects

Women of this age group who have drinking binges are more likely to engage in unprotected sex and have multiple partners, increasing the risks both for unplanned pregnancies and for getting sexually transmitted diseases.

No amount of alcohol is safe for a woman to drink while she is pregnant. Women who drink and discover that they are pregnant may, by immediately stopping their drinking, lower their risks of having a child who suffers from physical, emotional or mental problems.

Binge drinking also increases a woman’s risk of sexual assault, especially for young women in college. Rape or sexual assault is more likely when both the attacker and the victim have been drinking.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse by Women

Excessive drinking over time can have devastating health effects on women. The CDC cites several, including:

  • Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) – risks for cirrhosis and other alcohol-induced liver diseases are higher for women.
  • Brain Damage – excessive drinking can result in memory loss as well as shrinkage of the brain; women are more vulnerable and can be affected sooner than men by alcohol damage to the brain.
  • Heart Damage – women who drink excessively have higher risks of damage to the heart than do men.
  • Several Cancers – women who drink have higher risks of cancer of the throat, mouth, esophagus, colon, liver, and breast. Breast cancer risk increases directly with the amount of alcohol consumed.

Women can ruin their health by being unaware of the consequences of alcohol abuse or addiction. A better understanding of the specific harms cited above might provide many women with incentives to limit their drinking.

Avoid Alcohol Abuse or Abstain from Drinking

The safest course for women of child bearing age is to not drink at all. If abstinence from alcohol is not possible for some then care should be taken to avoid both heavy drinking and binge drinking which are serious threats to a woman’s health. Although a smaller percentage of women develop alcohol addictions, those who become dependent on it are more seriously and more quickly harmed over time than are men who consume the same amount. In addition, women of any age can be harmed in more ways than men can, vulnerable as they sometimes are to sexual assault and violence when under the influence of alcohol, and when pregnant.


Drunkorexia Mixes Disordered Eating with Alcohol Abuse

A dangerous new trend some are calling “drunkorexia” is occurring on college campuses across the country. It combines the dangerous eating behaviors or anorexia and bulimia with alcohol abuse, upping the risk factor for the young men and women who participate.

What is Drunkorexia?

Young women today feel an unprecedented amount of pressure to stay thin. This pressure can come from a variety of sources; friends, family members, media, etc. Young women who want to engage in the drinking culture of college campuses may decide to trade food for alcohol. In other words, they drastically reduce or eliminate their food intake to save their calories for drinking.

Young women see the practice as having multiple benefits. They save calories, save money, and get drunk more quickly. Rather than restricting food intake, some women choose binging and purging instead. They binge eat, then binge drink, followed by throwing everything up.

Dangers of Drunkorexia

Unfortunately, they often don’t see the dangers of this behavior. They may simple see this as an easy way to have fun while still maintaining their desired body weight. Social networking sites, blogs, even conversations with friends help participants learn new ways of drinking and not gaining any weight.

However, severely restricting food intake or getting into a binging and purging cycle are red flags for eating disorders. Up to one third of college women may have disordered eating habits according to the article, Eating Disorders in College Women, and adding alcohol to the mix just makes it more dangerous.

Women who get drunk more quickly also may not realize how impaired they are. Since drunkenness impacts a person’s judgment, decision-making process, and perceptions, this may put them at higher risk for dangerous sexual behavior, sexual assault, or other risks.

Drunkorexia is not an official medical condition, but rather a popular term that has been given to this behavior. But the underlying alcohol abuse and disordered eating are real. When these two addictions co-occur, doctors must treat each one separately.

Men and Drunkorexia

Though many people view eating disorders are primarily effecting women, many men suffer, too. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, more than a million men and boys are effected. Increasingly, our society is pressuring boys and men to look a certain way as well. Conscious of their weight and body shape, college age men are at risk of developing the behaviors of drunkorexia, as well.

Men may also be drawn to the fact that they can get drunker more quickly when they don’t eat. Because drunkenness among young men is often valued socially on college campuses, they often see this as a benefit, but are unaware of the health risks involved.

The key thing to remember is that drunkorexia is not a harmless diet fad. Instead it is flirting with risky health behaviors that could have long term consequences. Young people should always eat before drinking, drink in moderation, and avoid binge eating or drinking. If they suspect a problem, they should contact their campus counseling services immediately.


Do Breastfeeding and Alcohol Mix?

Breastfeeding is very beneficial to both a mother and her child. It is difficult for some mothers to stick to breastfeeding with all of the rules and restrictions that they feel they must follow. Many mothers believe that they must avoid alcohol completely while breastfeeding. This is untrue. Although alcohol passes into breast milk and can affect the baby, mothers can take some steps to consume alcohol safely without ending the breastfeeding relationship.

How Much Alcohol Passes Through Breast Milk?

When nursing mothers consume alcohol, it is thought that less than two percent of the alcohol passes into her breast milk. A mother can safely consume up to two drinks and have the alcohol leave her breast milk within two to three hours. Drinking any more than that would take a longer period of time for it to clear out of the mother’s milk. Within this time, mothers are recommended not to breastfeed.

The Effects of Alcohol on Breast Milk and Breastfeeding Infants

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not stimulate milk production. Many mothers are told that they should drink beer if they’d like to produce more milk, but this is simply not true. Furthermore, mothers who drink alcohol on a daily basis tend to have babies who gain weight poorly.

Babies of mothers who drink daily may also have slowed motor development and poor sleep-wake patterns. Alcohol may also change the taste of breast milk, causing infants to nurse less often. This can result in a drop in the mother’s milk supply.

How Nursing Mothers can Safely Consume Alcohol

Mothers who wish to drink should be careful to avoid any poor effects to their breast milk or their child. It is recommended that mothers avoid alcohol altogether in the first three months after giving birth, as the livers of young babies have a hard time processing any alcohol that may be in breast milk.

If a nursing mom is planning to drink, she should pump ahead of time so that she has something else to offer should her baby become hungry. Breastfeeding should be avoided until the mother has sobered up. Sticking to only two drinks can help a mother to sober up quickly and be able to attend to her infant.

Some companies have created a milk screening test, which uses a dip stick to test alcohol levels in a mother’s milk. This can be helpful if a mother wants to be extremely careful and not risk her infant consuming any alcohol.

In summary, it is important that nursing mothers don’t get into a habit of drinking daily, but it can be done without harm on occasion. As long as the baby is not nursed while alcohol is present in the breast milk, there will be no harmful effects to mother or baby.