What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions-resulting in unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions, slurred speech and an inability to react quickly. As for as how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a substance that lowers a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgment.

Although alcohol is classified as a depressant, the amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect it has on an individual. The majority of people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine taken to “open up.” But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel “drunk” and lose coordination and control. Alcohol overdose, also known as “alcohol poisoning”, causes even more severe depressant effects (inability to feel pain, toxicity where the body vomits the poison, and finally unconsciousness or, worse, coma or death from severe toxic overdose). These reactions are dependent upon how much alcohol is consumed and how quickly the individual’s body is able to process it. There are different forms of alcohol. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol is the only alcohol used in beverages, it is produced by the fermentation of grains and fruits. Fermentation is the process by which cells release energy in conditions where oxygen is not present, usually in a dark, damp environment. Several major products of fermentation are ethanol, lactic acid, and hydrogen gas. Fermentation of sugars by yeast is typically used as the source of ethanol for alcoholic beverages.

Known Facts about Alcohol

Alcohol is classified as a depressant.

Alcohol has both short-term and long-term effects.

Even a small amount of alcohol can impair the judgment that is required to safely operate an automobile or other machinery.

Alcohol consumption will result in serious side effects if consumed with certain medications.

Parents who consume alcohol in excess are much more likely to pass this trait onto their offspring. One of the most well known facts about alcohol is that expectant mothers who consume alcohol often give birth to a child who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

If consumed over a prolonged period of time, alcohol may cause damage to major organs, including the liver, kidneys, and/or the brain.

Prolonged consumption of alcohol may result in substantial weight gain which, in turn, can have negative effects on the heart or vital organs.
When a person drinks on an empty stomach it will increase the likelihood of actually becoming drunk.

Alcohol in a person’s home is a temptation, so the removal of it will help to lessen the likely hood of consumption.

In some states, one Driving Under the Influence “DUI” charge may result in probation, jail time, license revocation, a fine or a combination of the above penalties.

Short Term Effects

When an individual drinks alcohol, the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining, enters the bloodstream, and goes to all the tissues. The majority of effects caused by alcohol are dependent on a variety of factors, including a person’s sex, size, age, and weight, as well as the amount of food and alcohol consumed. The “social effect” caused by alcohol is one of the primary reasons it is used in so many social situations. Other effects of moderate alcohol intake include increased conversation and dizziness; the immediate effects of a larger amount of alcohol include nausea, disturbed sleep, slurred speech, and vomiting. Even at very low doses, alcohol significantly impairs the user’s judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including domestic violence situations and slurred speech. Hangovers are another negative effect after large amounts of alcohol are consumed; a hangover often consists of headache, dehydration, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Long Term Effects

The extended, heavy use and abuse of alcohol has been proven to lead to alcoholism, which is a form of addiction. When an individual suddenly stops drinking after long term abuse, extensive alcohol consumption is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors hallucinations and convulsions. Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol, most often combined with poor nutrition, often leads to permanent damage to the users vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, and brain. Studies have also shown that mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants can possibly suffer from mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities.

On a more positive note research has shown that most alcoholics with cognitive impairment show at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning within a year of abstinence from alcohol, though some individuals take much longer. Counselors must consider a variety of different treatment approaches to help abusers stop drinking and to recover from alcohol–related brain damage, and tailor these treatments to the individual user.

For more information on alcohol and addiction call Narconon at 800-468-6933.

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