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
- 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
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