What is it?

Overall Lifetime Prevalence of Alcohol Use  in

Fairfax County Students 2013 (8th-12th Grade)


Overall Past Month Prevalence of Alcohol Use in Fairfax County Students 2013 (8th-12th Grade)


Prevalence of Binge Drinking in the Past Two Weeks in

Fairfax County Students 2013 (8th-12th Grade)


*Fairfax County data and tables are from The Fairfax County Youth Survey Report School year 2013-2014 at www.fairfaxcountygov/youthsurvey.

Alcohol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine and liquor. After you consume an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol immediately enters your bloodstream from your stomach or small intestine. Once in your bloodstream, alcohol can impact all of your organs and your brain. Slow reaction time, poor coordination, impaired vision and lack of inhibitions are some of the more common and immediate effects of alcohol consumption.


The more alcohol a person consumes the more he or she will become impaired. “Binge drinking” is a common form of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.



Street Names: Booze, alcs, brew, hooch, juice, sauce

Common sizes and types: All drinks are NOT created equal. They do not have the

                                                                same amount of alcohol concentration.


Alcohol is a highly addictive drug. Over 18 million adults are addicted to alcohol, and addiction can begin at any time in a person’s life. About 50 percent of U.S. teens who start drinking alcohol before the age of 14 will become addicted to alcohol at some point.

What are the effects?

Short-term Effects:

Alcohol is a depressant, slowing down the function of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Once alcohol enters the bloodstream some of the more immediate effects can appear within 10 minutes. Consumed in very small amounts, alcohol can make a person feel more relaxed. Used in greater amounts alcohol changes the brain resulting in intoxication.

Signs of intoxication:

  • Slurred speech
  • Motor impairment
  • Confusion
  • Reduced inhibitions/increased sociability
  • Slower reaction time
  • Memory problems

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time (binge drinking), alcohol poisoning can result. Vomiting is typically the first sign of alcohol poisoning.

Signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Blackouts/memory lapses
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood sugar
  • Seizures
  • Death

In addition to the immediate impact alcohol can have on the body, alcohol consumption can also lead to:

  • Risky behavior
  • Car crashes, falls, or other accidents
  • Violent behavior
  • Sexual assault
  • Suicide and homicide


Long-term Effects:

Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can lead to addiction and be detrimental to your overall health. Long-term effects of alcohol consumption can lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain, heart, pancreas and liver. The immune system can also be weakened, increasing the risks of developing some forms of cancer.  Here’s how long-term alcohol consumption can affect your body:




  • Disruptions in the brain’s communication pathways changing mood, behavior, concentration and coordination


  • Arrhythmias – irregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiomyopathy – stretching and drooping of heart muscle


  • Steatosis – fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis


  • Pancreatitis


  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Immune system: a weakened immune system can lead to opportunistic infections

  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

In Our Community

Table 8. Lifetime Prevalence of Alcohol Use, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County, 2010 - 2013 (Values are percentages)

Table 10. Past Month Prevalence of Alcohol Use, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County, 2010 - 2013 (Values are percentages)

Table 12. Prevalence of Binge Drinking In the Past Two Weeks, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County, 2010 - 2013 (Values are percentages)

*Binge Drinking was defined as having consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a row within the past two weeks.

Table 15. Percentage of Students Reporting First Use of Alcohol Before Age 13, by Selected Grades, Fairfax County and U.S., 2013 (Values are percentages)

2013-2014 Fairfax County Youth Survey Data:

  • Approximately two-fifths of Fairfax County students (41.1%) reported drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime, with over three-fifths of 12th-grade students (62.9%) having consumed alcohol at least one time. The percentage of students using alcohol in their lifetime has declined since 2011 by 4.4 percentage points.
  • Nearly one-fifth (19.3%) of students reported consuming alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey, with rates ranging from 5.0% of 8th-grade students to 36.2% of 12th-grade students. The rate more than doubled between 10th and 12th grades. Female students reported a higher rate of alcohol use in the past month (19.8% of female students vs. 18.8% of male students). Overall, the 2013 rate was the lowest prevalence of past month alcohol use since 2010.
  • One in ten students (9.3%) reported binge drinking in the past two weeks, with rates ranging from 1.8% of eighth-grade students to 18.9% of 12th-grade students. The rate more than doubled between 10th and 12th grades. The rate of binge drinking was lower in 2013 than in any of the previous three years.
  • One in seven 12th-grade students (14.8%) reported having driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol, including 9.0% who had done so within the past year. Male 12th-grade students were more likely to report the behavior in the past year than female 12th-grade students (10.9% vs. 7.2%, respectively).


*Fairfax County data and tables are from The Fairfax County Youth Survey Report School year 2013-2014 at




Alcohol was the most frequently used substance by Fairfax County Public School students, according to the 2013-2014 Fairfax County Youth Survey results.

What We Are Doing To Help

Our Initiatives:



  • Parents Who Host, Lose the Most
  • Saturday Night in the Suburbs
  • Perils of the College Drinking Culture Forum
  • Don't Drink and Drive Campaign

Other Alcohol Resources

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Oakton, Virginia 22124


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The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County (UPC) and this website are partially funded by a Virginia Strategic Prevention Framework - State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG) and a federal SAMHSA Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking grant (STOP). UPC is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with more than 60 partners and members from the community