Alcohol is produced by the chemical breakdown of yeast, sugars and starches. It is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it slows down your body and reaction times. It is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream.

A standard drink equals 0.6 ounces of pure ethanol, or 12 ounces of beer; 8 ounces of malt liquor; 5 ounces of wine; or 1.5 ounces (a “shot”) of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (for example, vodka, gin, rum or whiskey) (Source: NIDA).

Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker’s body and can damage a developing fetus, or baby in the womb. Intoxication, or becoming drunk, can decrease brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase the risk of certain cancers, stroke and liver disease.

Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a diagnosable disease marked by a strong craving for alcohol and/or continued use despite harm or personal injury. Alcohol abuse, which can lead to alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work (Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Effects of alcohol:

  • Behavior changes
  • Less coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue and
  • Stomach distress
  • Blackouts
  • Organ damage and thinning bones
  • Increased risk of some cancers and fertility issues or birth defects

Signs of alcohol abuse:

  • Temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
  • Irritability and extreme mood swings
  • Making excuses for drinking such as to relax or deal with stress
  • Drinking over other responsibilities and obligations
  • Isolated and distant from friends and family members
  • Drinking alone or in secrecy
  • Feeling hungover when not drinking
  • Changing appearance and group of acquaintances

More information can be found using the below resource. You can also access frequently asked questions and the answers regarding alcohol and your health from WebMD at the following link.

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