alcohol

Modified: 1st Aug 2019

In 2015, it was found that over 15 million adults in the United States suffer from an alcohol use disorder. Many people who suffer from alcoholism are in denial about their problem and will avoid admitting they have a substance abuse disorder.

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol is the ingredient found in liquor, beer, and wine that can cause drunkenness. It’s made when yeast ferments from the sugar found in food.

Different types of alcoholic beverages are made by adding different ingredients and using different processes to create the beverage.

Definition

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of alcohol is as follows:

“A colorless volatile flammable liquid which is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars and is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.”

How Is It Taken?

Alcohol can only be consumed by drinking. You can consume alcohol in different types of beverages which include wine, beer, and liquor.

Beer is the weakest alcoholic drink and one serving is typically 12 ounces. Wine is made using red, black, or white grapes, which ferment creating alcohol. One serving of wine is typically four or five ounces.

Liquor is the strongest alcoholic beverage and possibly the most dangerous. A serving size of liquor is typically just 1.5 ounces but is oftentimes mixed with non-alcoholic beverages to create a complete drink.

Who Takes It?

Drinking is extremely popular everywhere in the world, but there are some differences in usage when comparing gender, culture, and age.

  • Men drink 11.1 percent more alcohol than women.
  • Caucasians drink 13.9 percent more than African-Americans drink.
  • 18 to 29-year-old men and women drink more than any other age group.

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A Brief History of Alcohol

Alcohol has been made and consumed by people for thousands of years. There is evidence that alcoholic beverages were being consumed in 7,000 B.C. in China but likely had been consumed long before that in ancient Egypt.

In the United States, alcohol has had a huge impact on the development of this country. In 1920, the U.S. passed the prohibition act, which outlawed the manufacturing, importing, exporting, and purchasing of alcohol.

The prohibition, however, was a complete failure. It did not deter the sale or consumption of alcohol but instead lead to the creation of organized crime. People went to speakeasies to drink alcohol and drinking got even more popular than it had been prior to the prohibition.

The prohibition was abolished in 1933 after the underground alcohol industry had boomed and was unstoppable.

Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

Why is alcohol such a popular drug of choice for so many people? It’s because of the effects it has on the body.

Here are the effects of alcohol on the mind and body, and the health effects it brings along with consumption.

Effects on the Mind

Some of the effects of alcohol on the mind are as follows:

  • Mood is easily affected/changed
  • Change in behavior
  • Less anxiety
  • More confidence
  • Poor judgment
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Loss of consciousness (blacking out)

Effects on the Body

Some of the effects of alcohol on the body are as follows:

  • Poor balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Clumsiness
  • Stomach pains, nausea, vomiting
  • Redness in the face
  • Slowed heart rate

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Short-Term Health Effects

Alcohol has several short-term health effects while it is being consumed and in the hours following excessive alcohol use. Outside of withdrawal symptoms, the short-term health effects of alcohol are as follows:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Anemia
  • Altered perception
  • Blackouts
  • Liver damage
  • Dehydration

Long-Term Health Effects

If alcohol is abused regularly, some dangerous long-term health effects come into play. Here are the long-term health effects of alcohol that you should know:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory infection
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Ulcers
  • Nerve Damage
  • Brain damage
  • Depression
  • Alcoholism (addiction)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease

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Using Alcohol With Other Drugs

Alcohol is often used with other drugs. Whether a person is drinking alcohol at home or out at parties, it is common for other drugs to be used at the same time.

Which Drugs Are Commonly Used With Alcohol?

The most commonly used drug with alcohol is caffeine. Many people think that caffeine is harmless and so it must be safe to use with alcohol. But actually, mixing caffeine and alcohol can have terrible health consequences.

Caffeine speeds up the heart rate and alcohol, as a depressant, slows it down. People will typically be able to consume a lot more alcohol when consuming it with energy drinks, leading to much stronger and more dangerous side effects.

Using Adderall with alcohol is especially popular among college-aged drinkers. Adderall gives people the energy to keep partying and drinking all night long, which can lead to people consuming a dangerous amount of alcohol.

Alcohol is often mixed with painkillers, which leads to the respiratory system becoming extremely slow. This is a very dangerous combination and can lead to death.

Alcohol is also commonly mixed with marijuana, which can lead to vomiting, paranoia, and decreased motor function.

Another extremely popular and dangerous drug combination is alcohol and cocaine. Mixing cocaine and alcohol is extremely dangerous because it puts the body at risk for cardiovascular toxicity. This can cause excessive pressure and strain on the heart.

Treating Alcohol Addiction

If a loved one in your life is abusing alcohol, don’t let their alcoholism go untreated. It’s important to intervene and help your loved one seek help and rehabilitation for alcoholism before it’s too late.

Please contact us today to learn more about the signs of alcoholism and how you can help the addicted loved one in your life.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.