Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

The Dangers of Alcohol Use

April 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Alcohol

Alcohol Use

 

Alcohol is the most widely abused drug in the world. Over half of all adults in the US report regular alcohol use. For many people, moderate drinking is probably safe. It may even have health benefits. Some people should not drink alcohol at all, including pregnant women, alcoholics, children, and people with health problems that could be compounded by alcohol use.

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing alcohol. Alcoholic beverages come in 3 general classes: beers, wines and spirits.

Alcohol has a profound effect on the body. It is a central nervous system depressant. When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, about 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and about 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestines. The rate of absorption depends on several factors including age, race, weight, sex, and general health. Outside factors that affect the rate of alcohol absorption include the concentration of alcohol in the drink, the type of drink (carbonation speeds up absorption), and whether or not the person has eaten before drinking (a full stomach slows down alcohol absorption). Once alcohol is absorbed, it enters the blood stream and is distributed throughout the body’s tissues. Alcohol is broken down by the body at the rate of 0.5 oz per hour in the average person. This translates into about 1 drink per hour.  Alcohol use effects a person’s behavior and functioning. When a person begins to consume more alcohol than their body can eliminate (i.e. more than one drink per hour) their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) begins to rise.

The effects of alcohol use at a BAC of .03 to .12 include:  a feeling of euphoria, slurred speech, flushed skin, and delayed reflexes. A person with this BAC may become more daring, have a shorter attention span, and exhibit poor judgment.

The effects of alcohol use at a BAC of 0.09 to 0.25 include: fatigue, poor coordination, blurry vision, and problems with balance. A person with this BAC may have trouble remembering even recent events and have a slow reaction time.

The effects of alcohol use at a BAC of 0.18-0.30 include: confusion, dizziness, and slurred speech. A person with this BAC may be highly emotional-either aggressive or overly affectionate, and they may have a delayed reaction to pain.

The effects of alcohol use at a BAC of 0.25 to 0.4 include: loss of consciousness, inability to move or respond to stimuli, vomiting, and inability to stand or walk.

The effects of alcohol use at a BAC of 0.35 to 0.50 include: unconsciousness, lowered body temperature, slowed respiration, lowered heart rate. A person with this BAC may slip into a coma and or die. If a person has BAC higher than 0.50 they will almost always stop breathing and die.

Many people think that alcohol use is different from use of other drugs because of its legality and social acceptance. However, recent studies have shown that alcohol use and abuse is more dangerous than abuse of other drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine.

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