Facts about Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant drug that can slow down the parts of the brain that affect thinking, behavior, breathing, and heart rate. Suicide and violent crimes often involve alcohol. So it is important for young people to be educated about the consumption of alcoholic beverages, consequences, and problems.

How does alcohol affect a person?

It depends on a number of factors and there are many individual differences in the way consuming alcohol impacts people. Some factors include:

  • Age, sex and body weight
  • Sensitive to alcohol
  • Type and amount of food in the stomach when it is consumed
  • Quantity and frequency of drinking
  • How long they have been drinking
  • Social environment
  • If taken with any other drugs (illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter).

For some people, one drink of alcohol seems to release tension and reduces inhibition. On the other hand, some others become depressed or hostile.

Studies show that, in general, women are more sensitive to the impacts of alcohol than men. It is also established that both men and women become increasingly sensitive to the effects of alcohol as they grow older. When someone is more sensitive, it takes less alcohol to cause intoxication and more time for the body to eliminate the alcohol consumed.

What are the signs of alcohol intoxication?

Early signs of drinking too much include:

  1. flushed skin
  2. reduced inhibition
  3. impaired judgment

If the drinking continues further, it could lead to other effects, such as:

  • impaired attention
  • staggering gait
  • slurred speech
  • reduced muscle control
  • slowed reflexes
  • double or blurred vision

At the extreme level, a severely intoxicated person could “blackout,” and forget what was said or done at the time of drinking. Effects could include the inability to stand, vomiting, loss of consciousness, coma, and death.

Is alcohol addictive?

Yes, alcohol is addictive because it causes dependence and the need to have more. Physical dependence involves tolerance to alcohol’s effects. This essentially means people will need to consume more alcohol to feel the same level of the desired effect. It is also considered addictive because when regular alcohol use is abruptly stopped, it causes withdrawal symptoms.

Most alcohol-related illnesses, social problems, accidents, and deaths are caused by “problem drinking.” This term describes alcohol use that causes problems in a person’s life but does not include physical dependence, one indicator of addiction. Problem drinking is four times as common as severe alcohol dependence.

Since alcoholic beverages are socially accepted drinks, it is important that young people are educated about the uses, abuses, and consequences of consuming alcohol.

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