What is alcohol?
Alcohol, or ethanol, is a common ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Due to its formation process, alcohol is commonly known as an intoxicating drug that is formed through the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starch. Along with being intoxicated from this substance, alcohol also acts as a depressant on your nervous system, causing you to have delayed brain functions and loss of motor skills. When you consume alcohol, it enters your blood stream through your stomach and small intestine. Because it enters into the bloodstream, every organ in the body is affected, especially the liver and brain.
Alcohol is also extremely addictive leading many to alcohol treatment.
Short Term Effects of Alcohol
Below is a list of some of the most common short term effects that a person experiences when using alcohol:
• Exaggerated emotions
• Injury to yourself or others
• Weakens the immune system
• Damages the body’s appearance
• Causes continued use of alcohol
Who Alcohol Affects
Alcohol affects everyone, including those who do not drink. Once alcohol enters the bloodstream and begins to affect the nervous system, it becomes very difficult for the drinker to quit. In a recent study, it was discovered that more than half (53%) of adults know of at least one person in their family that has a drinking problem. These family members are located within the 18 to 29 age group. This is a sad realization when you consider that the legal drinking age is 21.
One “fad” common among young drinkers, those falling in the 18 to 29 age group, is called binge drinking. Binge drinking is when an individual uses alcohol excessively and in a common pattern. With binge drinking comes many health problems. Just a few examples of these health problems include:
• Cancers within the liver, mouth, throat
• Increased blood pressure
• Alcohol poisoning
A common misinterpretation is that if you are below the legal drinking age, alcohol use will not affect you as much compared to when you are older. This is in fact false. By using alcohol at a young age you are more likely to become dependent upon alcohol than someone who is at the legal drinking age. Using alcohol at a young age also makes you vulnerable to receiving a sexual disease or failing school.
Because alcohol is easily accessed by anyone over the age of 21, children and young adults are readily exposed to it at all times. It is reported that nine or more children live with a family member that abuses alcohol. Not only do they observe alcohol use from their family and friends, but they also observe the use of alcohol from television. A recent study found that young adults are exposed to numerous commercials; nearly 45% of those are alcohol related.
Youth who drink experience more problems than adults. This is because young adults brains are still developing and they tend to abuse the use of alcohol more than adults. Some of the things that youth experience are:
• School problems like bad grades and poor attendance
• Violence and lack of participation in social atmospheres
• Legal issues because of DUI’s
• Unwanted/ unplanned pregnancy
• Sexual and physical assault
• Increased suicide/homicide rates
• Unwanted injuries
• Memory loss
• Drug abuse
• Alcohol dependence
Many people who abuse alcohol do not know they are abusing until it is too late. You are the only person in control of yourself and you are the only one who can make the choice for yourself about whether or not to begin drinking. Most young adults that try alcohol for the first time do so from peer- pressure. A basic definition of peer- pressure is when someone of your own age does something whether good or bad and you feel that by being around them you must fall into the same routine. Due to alcohol’s inhibited feelings, drinking has been taken up as a social activity. This buys into the peer – pressure example for the reason that many people are comfortable participating in activities that everyone else takes part in.
Because of alcohol’s increasing popularity in the social scene, roughly 18 million adults are reportedly addicted to alcohol. Only a small percentage make it to alcohol treatment.
All alcoholic drinks are addictive. Drinking one beer is equivalent to having a glass of wine or a shot of liquor. Studies show that it takes the body approximately a ½ hour to begin feeling the effects of alcohol. This is a main cause of alcohol poisoning in young adults because they end up drinking large amounts of alcohol in such a short amount of time that their body cannot digest it. The body uses 1 hour to process a standard drink. Therefore, if you drink 5 drinks in a matter of 1 hour it is going to roughly take you six more hours before your body has used up that alcohol. The only way you can sober up is time, nothing else like the myths of coffee, water, or cold showers will help.
Alcohol Treatment Help
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, there are four easy ways to notice if you or someone you know has a problem:
1. They will lie to sober friends about their activities
2. They will hide their alcohol use from sober friends
3. Begin hanging out/ partying with friends that drink
4. They will deny they have a problem even to themselves