From some of the earliest times recorded to the present day, alcohol has played a part in humanity. It has served a variety of roles in religion, history, and medicine. Alcohol consumption is certainly not rare, even among those not legally old enough to drink. Because its use is so widespread, it is important to have an understanding of what alcohol is, what is can do to the body, and the effects it can have on life with the knowledge of common alcohol addiction facts.
Read More Alcohol Addiction Facts Below:
What is Alcohol?
At its most basic definition, alcohol is a clear liquid that is made from grain, corn, rye, barley, or fruits. About 20 percent of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach when an individual consumes alcohol; the other 80 percent is absorbed through the small intestine. The ingestion and absorption of alcohol affects an individual both physically and mentally.
Where Does It Come From?
Alcohol is a man made beverage produced by the fermentation of sugars, starches, and yeast. Both beer and wine are made through fermenting processes. They begin with a substance that contains sugar and then yeast is added. As the yeast begins to ferment, the sugar turns into carbon dioxide and ethyl. Harder liquors, including vodka, whiskey, rum, and gin, are made through a distilled process.
Alcohol Addiction Effects
Alcohol addiction effects can vary depending on the individual. Be aware of the common alcohol effects to prevent life-threatening symptoms. Learn more below:
What Are Some Common Alcohol Addiction Effects?
There is not a single organ or part of the body that is not affected by alcohol. It is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, processed through the liver, and leaves the body through the kidneys, lungs, oxidation in the bloodstream, and perspiration. It affects the central nervous system and acts as a depressant. The type and amount of alcohol consumed, and details of the person ingesting the alcohol (such as age, gender, weight, etc.) will determine other affects alcohol will have. The most common affects alcohol can have on the body include:
- Loss of ability to perceive pain
- Memory loss
- Delayed reactions
- Increased self-confidence and social interactions
- Impaired reactions
Who Should Avoid Alcohol?
Alcohol addiction effects can vary for each person differently. Age, gender, and weight can all affect the absorption rate of alcohol as can the amount of food a person has to drink, the amount of other non-alcoholic liquids they have had, as well as a variety of other factors. No matter how alcohol affects people though, there are certain individuals who should not consume alcohol. These include:
- Children and adolescents
- Women who are pregnant or suspect they may be pregnant
- Individuals who are taking any sort of over the counter or prescription medications that may possibly interact with the alcohol
- Individuals with specific medical conditions that may cause negative reactions with alcohol
- Individuals who plan to operate heavy machinery, drive, or participate in any activity that will require full mental participation
What Does It Mean to “Be Drunk”?
Consumption of alcohol does not always lead to an individual being drunk. Moderate drinking may include one to two drinks per day. However, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to a person becoming intoxicated, or drunk. This is a literal overdose of alcohol. At this point an individual can suffer from extremely delayed reactions, poor judgment, slurred speech, and loss of balance or motor skills. While this does not define a person being “drunk” each state has readily accepted a blood alcohol content of 0.08% as the legal limit for an individual 21 years of age of older to drive.
What is the Difference between Binge Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, and Alcohol Addiction?
Binge drinking refers to drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short amount of time. It is generally accepted that the consumption of five or more drinks in a row can be considered binge drinking. If that occurs more than three times in a two week period, it is considered to be heavy binge drinking.
Alcohol abuse is persistent drinking that results in damage to a person’s health, relationships, or their ability to work. Individuals who abuse alcohol may have difficulty meeting work responsibilities, or place themselves in dangerous situations like driving or operating machinery while under the influence. Binge drinking is an example of alcohol abuse. While it is imperative to note that alcohol addiction, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism are not simple alcohol abuse, they can certainly be an end result if the alcohol abuse is not stopped.
Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is a complete dependence on alcohol. It is a chronic disease. Unlike other effects of alcohol, the type of person or type of alcohol will not make a difference to the alcoholic. Anyone suffering from alcoholism has an uncontrollable need for the drink. The majority of these individuals will need some sort of recovery program to manage their disease.
What are the Consequences of Excessive Alcohol Usage?
While short term effects of alcohol consumption may leave once the alcohol has been metabolized from the body, long term effects of persistent and excessive alcohol will not disappear as quickly. Numerous health problems have been associated with alcohol abuse, binge drinking, and alcoholism, including:
- Liver cirrhosis
- High blood pressure
- Liver, throat, and esophageal cancer
- Unintentional injuries and accidents causing harm to the individual and others
- Violence and other mood swings
- Death, or serious injury if driving under the influence results in an accident
When to Help
Not all drinking is necessarily bad. In fact, every time a person becomes drunk, it is not always necessary to intervene and seek help. However, if a drinking problem is suspected, involvement is essential. However alcohol poisoning requires immediate attention as it can be fatal. Signs and symptoms that an individual may be suffering from alcohol poisoning may include:
- Total loss of consciousness
- Clammy skin
- Skin with a pale or bluish look
- Shallow or irregular breathing
- Vomiting while unconscious
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