ALCOHOL & ALCOHOL ABUSE

Every year, more money is spent promoting the use of alcohol than any otherproduct. Perhaps through its elaborate and creative marketing, the most basic, yet important fact about alcohol is often overlooked — alcohol is a drug — the most commonly used and widely abused psychoactive drug in the world.

One concept that many people find difficult to accept is that alcoholism and alcohol problems are a disease. Research has shown that alcohol interacts with the body’s systems in predictable ways to lead to physiological addiction.

Alcoholism is a disease — a chronic, progressive, fatal disease if not treated.

Short Term Effects

Even at low doses, alcohol significantly impairs the judgment and coordination required to drive a car or operate machinery safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including domestic violence and child abuse.

Effects of moderate alcohol intake include dizziness and talkativeness. The immediate effects of a larger amount of alcohol include slurred speech, disturbed sleep, nausea, and vomiting. “Hangovers” are another effect after large amounts of alcohol are consumed — symptoms including headache, nausea, thirst, dizziness, and fatigue.

Long Term Effects

Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can lead to addiction (alcoholism). Sudden cessation of long term, extensive alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.

Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol can lead to:
  • permanent damage to vital organs
  • several different types of cancer
  • gastrointestinal irritations, such as nausea, diarrhea, and ulcers
  • malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
  • sexual dysfunctions
  • high blood pressure
  • lowered resistance to disease

Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may suffer from mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics.

Alcohol Impairment Charts

Despite the tireless efforts of thousands of advocates, impaired drivers continue to kill someone every 30 minutes, nearly 50 people a day, and almost 18,000 citizens a year. Remember — impairment begins with the first drink.

Alcohol affects individuals differently. Your blood alcohol level is affected by your age, weight, gender, time of day, physical condition, prior amount of food consumed, other drugs or medication taken, and a multitude of other factors. In addition, different drinks may contain different amounts of alcohol, so it’s important to know how much and the concentration of alcohol you consume.

The body metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. Does drinking strong coffee or taking a cold shower have an effect on the person who is drunk? The answer is yes — the result being an alert, cold, and wet drunk. Time, and only time can sober a person up.

A woman of equivalent weight drinking an equal amount of alcohol in the same time period of time as a man may have a higher blood alcohol concentration than that man. Therefore, women should refer to the BAC chart for women.

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