Alcohol addiction refers to the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. In many cases, alcohol consumption leads to impulsive behaviour and it has negative effects on health and personal relationships. Alcohol addiction is difficult to overcome. It is a neurological disorder that affects the liver, heart, and nervous system. Some people with alcohol addiction refuse to get help for their problems simply because of the stigma attached to alcohol dependence, or because of denial
This list of frequently asked questions will help anyone interested in learning more about alcohol dependency to understand what it is and how to determine if someone has a drinking problem.
Introduction to Alcohol
What is alcohol?
Alcohol is a liquid created by fermenting starches and sugars. The flavor of an alcoholic beverage depends on the fermentation process and the fruits, additives, and vegetables used.
How does alcohol affect a person?
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which means that it blocks the nerve signals that are trying to reach the brain. This affects hearing, vision, movement, emotions, and perceptions. Drinking too much alcohol can cause slurred speech, loss of coordination, disorientation, confusion, and slowed reaction times. alcohol ingestion also causes relaxation and euphoria, which are the effects the user seeks.
Why do some people react differently to alcohol than others?
Not everyone metabolizes alcohol the same way. Weight, age, race, gender, ethnicity, and fitness level all affect alcohol metabolism. The number of drinks consumed and how quickly they were consumed also determine how alcohol will affect someone. Those who use drugs or have a history of alcohol abuse in their family may react differently to alcohol consumption than those who do not have these problems.
What is a standard drink in the United States?
In the Unites States, one standard drink equals 0.6 oz of pure alcohol (13.7 g). This is equivalent to 1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor, 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 8 oz of malt liquor.
Is beer or wine safer to drink than hard liquor?
Beer and wine are no safer than rum, whiskey, or other types of liquor. One 12-oz. can of beer has just as much alcohol as a shot of liquor or spirits. All of these beverages have the same effect on the human body.
What are caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs)?
Caffeinated alcoholic beverages contain caffeine and stimulants in addition to alcohol. They often have a higher percentage of alcohol than that of beer, but many companies do not report how much caffeine is in each drink. The caffeine allows one to consume more alcohol, and can lead to alcohol poisoning.
What does moderate drinking mean?
Moderate drinking typically means consuming no more than a single drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.
Is it safe to drink alcohol and drive?
It isn’t safe to drink alcohol and drive
, as alcohol impairs the ability to make quick decisions, alters perception, and reduces reaction time. Those who drink and drive may not be able to accurately judge how far away they are from other vehicles or make good decisions when presented with driving challenges.
What does it mean to be above the legal limit for drinking?
Every state in the U.S. has a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 percent. The blood alcohol concentration is determined by blood or breath tests administered by law enforcement officers or hospital personnel. BAC refers to the blood alcohol level above which someone is subject to legal penalties.
How do I know if it’s okay to drink?
Some people should not drink due to their occupations, age, or health conditions. It isn’t okay for people to drink if they are under the legal drinking age, if they are taking medications that can cause interactions with alcohol, if they expect to drive or participate in activities that need good coordination and attention, or if they have certain health conditions. Children, adolescents, pregnant women, and those who are in recovery for alcoholism or drug addition should not drink.
Excessive Alcohol Use
What is considered "heavy drinking"?
Heavy drinking refers to consuming more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men.
What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking can be defined as a dangerous pattern of drinking that causes blood alcohol concentration to exceed 0.08 percent. This means drinking four or more drinks in two hours for females or consuming more than five drinks in two hours for males.
What is the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse?
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse have different definitions. Alcoholism, also referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction, is a neurological disease that causes a strong desire to drink alcohol and makes it difficult to limit drinking. Alcoholics continue to drink even when their drinking causes personal, psychological, or physical problems. Alcohol abuse refers to a recurring drinking pattern that interferes with personal relationships, a person’s health, or a person’s ability to work. Alcohol abuse leads to an inability to fulfill responsibilities, legal problems, drinking while driving, and drinking while operating heavy equipment or machinery.
What does it mean to get drunk?
Getting drunk means drinking too much alcohol and being intoxicated. Intoxication leads to blood vessel dilation, poor judgment, loss of balance, impaired motor skills, and other problems. Excessive drinking also increases the risk of liver disease, stroke and certain cancers.
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Someone has a drinking problem if drinking alcohol causes relationship problems, difficulty participating in social activities, difficulty managing schoolwork, or similar effects, regardless of how much alcohol is consumed. Drinking to escape problems, drinking alone, and getting into legal trouble because of drinking are also signs of a drinking problem.
What can I do if I or someone I know has a drinking problem?
Someone with a drinking problem should call Recovery Connection at 800-993-3869 for treatment referral. Someone who suspects that a family member or friend has a drinking problem can also call the referral routing service for more information about alcohol problems and a referral to a local specialist. The number is 1-800-662-HELP.
What health problems are associated with excessive alcohol use?
Excessive alcohol use increases the risk for cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver. It also increases the risk for liver disease and certain types of cancer. Drinking alcohol excessively can erode away the lining of the esophagus
, causing heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux, and ulcers. Too much alcohol can also lead to malabsorption syndrome, heart damage, shortness of breath, reduced hemoglobin levels, sexual dysfunction, nerve damage, and muscle damage.
I’m young; is drinking bad for my health?
Yes. Studies show that young people who drink have an increased risk for injuries and death. Those who drink alcohol prior to the age of 15 have a four times greater chance of developing alcohol dependency. Alcohol consumption also increases the risk of suicide, poor school performance, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
Is it okay to drink when pregnant?
It is not safe to drink any amount of alcohol during pregnancy, as alcohol can affect fetal development. Even women who are considering getting pregnant should avoid drinking. Drinking during pregnancy is linked to fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects.
Alcohol Abuse Information
- FAQs for the General Public: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers a collection of frequently asked questions about alcoholism.
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains why drinking during pregnancy is dangerous.
- Alcohol and Heart Disease: This resource from the Women’s Heart Foundation explains how alcohol damages heart tissue.
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