Despite popular belief, alcohol is in fact a drug. Alcohol is classified as a depressant due to it effects of slowing down vital functions which induces slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and inability to react. However, although alcohol is defined as a depressant it can also cause stimulating effects depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. Many people drink alcohol for its stimulant effects, generally having a glass of beer or wine to “loosen up”. But when a person consumes more alcohol than the body can handle, then the depressant effects begin.
Understanding How Alcohol Affects The Body
Alcohol has various effects on the body, most of its effects can be detrimental to one’s health. When alcohol is consumed it is absorbed into the bloodstream through small blood vessels in the walls of the stomach and small intestine. Within minutes after consuming alcohol it enters into the bloodstream, traveling from the stomach to the brain, where it quickly causes the onset of its effects which slow down the central nervous system. Approximately 20% of alcohol travels in the bloodstream to the liver, majority of the remaining 80% is absorbed into the small intestine. Alcohol can also be carried from the bloodstream into the liver, which can eliminates alcohol from the blood, a process defined as metabolizing, where it is converted into a non-toxic substance. The liver is only capable of metabolizing a certain amount of alcohol at a time, which leaves the excess amounts circulating throughout the body. Therefore, the intensity of alcohol’s effects is directly contingent upon the amount consumed. If the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream goes over a certain level, the respiratory system significantly slows down, which can cause coma or even death due to oxygen being unable to reach the brain.
How To Avoid Crossing The Line Of An Alcohol Use Problem
Many people are unaware of when their alcohol consumption because problematic, this can be attributed to many not knowing the what counts as one drink. The percentage of alcohol in alcoholic beverages can vary, different types of beer, wine, or malt liquors can have varying amounts of alcohol content. Fermented drinks, such as beer and wine can contain two to twenty percent of alcohol. Distilled drinks (liquor) can contain as much as 40 to 50 percent of alcohol. The following information can give you a general idea of alcohol percentages in various alcoholic beverages:
- Beer: 2 to 6 percent alcohol content
- Wine: 8 to 20 percent alcohol content
- Tequila: 40 percent alcohol content
- Rum 40 percent or more alcohol content
- Brandy: 40 percent or more alcohol content
- Gin 40 to 47 percent alcohol content
- Whisky 40 to 70 percent alcohol content
- Vodka 40 t0 50 percent alcohol content
- Liqueurs 15 to 60 percent alcohol content
What Is A Standard Drink?
- 12 ounces of regular beer = one standard drink
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor = one standard drink
- 5 ounces of wine = one standard drink
- 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits (including whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, tequila & etc.)
- Moderate Drinking: One drink per day for women, up to two drinks per day for men
- Binge Drinking: Consuming four or more drinks for women, and five drinks or more for men, within a two hour time frame or consuming five or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion on any given day within the past 30 days
- Heavy Drinking: Consuming five or more drinks on the same occasion on five days or more within the past 30 days.
There are certain people who should not consume alcohol at all, some of the criteria for those who should refrain consuming alcohol includes:
- Individuals under the age of 21
- Individuals planning to drive a motor vehicle or operate heavy machinery
- Individuals who are using medications which will adversely interact with alcohol
- Individuals with a medical condition which will become aggravated by alcohol
- Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy in the near future
If you or a loved one in need of treatment for a alcohol use problem such as alcoholism or alcohol abuse, Harbor Village can assist you in achieving a complete and successful recovery. To learn more about how to get started with your life-changing recovery, call us today!