Alcohol: What It Is and What It Does
Many people think of alcohol as a beverage, not a drug, but, in fact, ethyl alcohol is a drug as much as is Valium or an amphetamine. Ethyl alcohol is a sedative hypnotic drug and is the active ingredient in all forms of alcoholic drinks, beer, liquor, wine. Although many people refer to liquor as 'hard alcohol', the alcohol is the same as in the other types of drinks.
How Does the Body Eliminate Alcohol?
One of the most important things a drinker can know about alcohol is the process of its elimination from the body. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver. Ninety-five percent of the alcohol consumed is eliminated in this way. The liver metabolizes approximately one-half ounce per hour, the amount in one 12 oz. can of domestic beer, one ounce of 100 Proof liquor, or 5-6 ounces of wine.
Why Do Some People Do Things Drinking They Wouldn't Do Sober?
As the blood alcohol concentration rises, the drug affects brain function which, in turn, affects judgement, emotions, coordination, and, if the person continues to drink, voluntary and involuntary muscles. As brain functions become impaired, some people say or do things not normally part of their behavior. People may become insulting, angry, or tearful. Most people become happy because that is the reaction they expect.
Definition - A blackout is an amnesia-like period which is preceded by excessive drinking. It is not passing out or losing consciousness. The person will appear to be normal and will seem to be functioning appropriately. Later, however, the drinker will not remember periods of time during or after drinking. A blackout may last just a few minutes or several hours.
Some drinkers may report, for example, not remembering how they returned to their room from a party, or they may not recall conversations with friends during the evening.
Cause - The exact cause of blackouts is not known. The simple explanation is that alcohol disrupts the storing of information in the long-term memory.
Significance - Blackouts are serious for a number of reasons. First, most drinkers do not have blackouts. Those people who do have them mistakenly assume that everyone does, but this is not the case. Second, most people who have a first blackout do not have another because they decide that if excessive drinking is going to cause them to forget what they did, they do not want to drink that much again. So, simply having multiple blackouts is an indication of a possible, and likely, problem.
Solution - The only way to avoid blackouts is to reduce or eliminate drinking.
Definition - A hangover is a collection of symptoms resulting from excessive drinking. There is not an exact definition; symptoms vary from individual to individual. The most common complaints are headache, nausea, sluggishness, and irritability.
Cause - The cause is excessive consumption and the withdrawal of alcohol from the body.
Solution - Despite popular myth, there are no hangover cures, except, of course, less consumption.
Definition - In terms of drinking, tolerance is the body's adaptation to increasing amounts of alcohol while seemingly affecting behavior less. The more frequently a person takes the drug, and the higher the dose, the more likely it is that tolerance will develop. Often, drinkers are under the misunderstanding that developing a high tolerance is beneficial, but this is not true. Subjecting your body to increasingly higher quantities of alcohol or other drug is simply not healthy.
Cause - A person develops tolerance by drinking increasing quantity and frequency over a period of time.
Solution - Maintaining a low tolerance is important. To prevent the development of a higher tolerance, do not increase the amount of alcohol consumed and do not drink frequently