What is alcohol?
There are many types of alcohol, but when we are talking about the alcohol that we consume, we are speaking about ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol. Ethanol is produced by fermentation using yeast, starches and sugars. The starches in wine come from grapes, whereas grains are used in beer.
What affect does alcohol have on the body and mind of a person?
Alcohol is a fat-soluble, organic solvent, which gives it the ability to penetrate one's cells more rapidly than most food sources. Upon drinking alcohol, it is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine and it quickly enters the blood stream, which carries it to every organ in the body. In the central nervous system, alcohol acts as a depressant, much like ether and other organic solvents. The body recognizes alcohol as a foreign substance that needs to be metabolized into sugars that the body uses as an energy source. The enzymes in the liver have the responsibility for this metabolism, but the liver can only metabolize small amounts of alcohol, which leave a majority of the drug circulating in the blood.
Why is alcohol referred to as a "drug"?
Basically, a drug is a generic term for any poison that affects the body in a manner that challenges the normal operating basis of the body. Depending on the drug, it may have some effects that bring about euphoria and energy, but in large doses, its metabolism will over tax the organs of the body, which can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. This is true for alcohol as well as all other drugs.
How much alcohol is in a beer or other alcoholic beverages?
Beer is made with different levels of alcohol content, but a standard beer, as opposed to a "light" beer has 0.6-ounces of alcohol in twelve ounces of beer. "Light" beer may have 0.32 ounces of alcohol and other amounts which determines the amount of calories in "light" beer. This same amount of alcohol is found in five ounces of wine and eight ounces of malt liquor. 1.5 ounces of hard liquor that is 80-proof, such as vodka, whiskey, gin and rum, etc. has the same about of alcohol as a 12-ounce beer, or 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
Are beer and wine less harmful to the body than hard liquor?
From the information above, you will see that the answer is NO. The total amount of alcohol consumed is the measure of its danger, rather than whether it is produces in more tasty drinks or in straight liquor.
How do you know if you have consumed a legal limit of alcohol?
For legal purposes, measurement of alcohol concentration in the body or blood is used to determine if a person's impairment from this drug is such to make them less capable of driving or other tasks that require alertness.
The amount of alcohol in the body is measured by blood samples or by a Breathalyzer. Every state can define what they want as a maximum level of alcohol in the blood before you can be arrested for violating their law. In the U.S. all states use the figure of 0.08% alcohol as that limit. This only applies to person over 21 year of age since it is illegal to drink if you are under 21. Any alcohol in the blood of someone under 21 will be determined as being over the allowed amount.
One should not take the legal limit of alcohol as an indicator that this drug isn't affecting one's coordination or judgment. Alcohol levels below the legal limit will have a relative impairment that can cause injury if operating machinery or other tasks that require alertness.
How do I know if I am a heavy drinker?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that over two alcoholic drinks per day for a male and over one alcoholic drink a day for a female is heavy drinking.
What is considered to be an amount of alcohol consumption that is safe?
Many experts will attest that any alcohol is taxing your body, whereas others state that a "safe" amount of alcohol consumption actually is beneficial to certain biological and psychological systems in the body. Most dietary guidelines state at no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women is safe. Professional alcohol and drug counselors at one of the most effective alcohol and drug treatment centers, Narconon, have seen many people who have struggled to stay within "safe" alcohol drinking levels will move into heavy drinking when their lives are under stress. It is a danger sign if someone is feeling that they "need" to have a drink, even if it is wthin the "safety" margins of consumption.
How to you determine if your alcohol drinking is a problem?
As with all drugs that are addicting, those who regularly use alcohol to excess will be in denial about the detrimental effects that it is having on their lives. If loved ones have commented that you are drinking too much, then you probably have a drinking problem. Most families will resist commenting on a loved one's drinking because they don't want cause friction in the family and there is cultural and personal denial as to the dangers of chronic alcohol consumption.
If I think I might have an alcohol problem, what should I do?
If alcohol is a point of contention in your life, then you should seek a professional to help you determine if you have an addiction problem. Catching addiction problems in its early phase makes recovery much easier. Narconon has residential alcohol and drug treatment programs as well as alcohol and drug prevention and education programs. You can call any Narconon drug rehab center and rest assured that you are talking to someone who can help you make an educated determination of whether your alcohol use is a problem, leading to bigger problems, or if you are being smart and cautious and are not in need of professional help.
See also: Meth Addiction if you or someone you know are addicted to methamphetamine.