What is alcohol?

Alcohol, or ethanol, is the product of fermented grains or fruits (beer and wine) that is further distilled to create “hard liquor”. Its effect is intoxication, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant..

Ethanol has been consumed as a drug for many thousands of years. Fermentation of yeast and sugars produce wine, at a higher temperature, beer is created by brewing, and distillation after fermentation is complete allows alcohol to have a higher concentration and potency.

Alcohol Basics

In our culture, alcohol is a commodity, one that is used freely in family gatherings, at meals and celebrations of all types. We see it in movies, on television and in the homes of nearly everyone we know. Yet, there are dangers and risks with alcohol that carry a heavy burden to our society. The overconsumption of alcohol has been a social nightmare since the beginning of its use. While many may partake with little or no ill effects, those who develop problems with alcohol abuse are many, the damage caused irreparable.


Alcohol Effects

The immediate effects of alcohol can be varied, depending on the drinker. Some people become vivacious, friendly and talkative. Others become quiet and philosophical. There is variance on how alcohol will affect the same person on two different drinking occasions. One person may seek companionship and social interaction for enjoyable drinking; another may seek solitude for consuming alcohol. Alcohol may increase aggressive behavior for some, melancholy for others.


Alcohol Dangers

Everyone drinks, it seems. In social interactions from casual after-work drinks to bigger celebrations like weddings, alcohol usually plays an integral part. After all, it is legal to drink and a slight buzz can be fun. So what are the dangers of alcohol? First and foremost, the overconsumption of alcohol is very dangerous in more than one way. Driving after overindulging is dangerous. Deaths from driving under the influence (DUI) increase in number yearly. Alcohol Addiction is another danger of alcohol, but not everyone is or will become an alcoholic.


Mixing

Because nearly everyone drinks, at least socially, there is a greater danger of mixing alcohol with other substances without meaning to do so. For those who are on prescription medications, it is vital to read the directions that come with your medications. Most medications are dangerous when mixed with alcohol.


Legality

Alcohol is a commodity of trade since wine was made from the first crushed grapes. While there are different laws governing its sale, alcohol is basically legal in the United States and Britain. These laws are many and vary in how and when it is sold, and how it can be sold and consumed.


Testing

Minutes after drinking, alcohol can be measured in the blood. Levels of alcohol in the blood are easily measured for numerous reasons--the primary one being able to determine whether blood alcohol content (BAC) has reached the legal limit. Factors affecting blood alcohol content are food consumption, which will slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, size and weight of the drinker, and the amount consumed over a period of time. As amounts diminish and are expelled from the system, time is a critical factor in amounts of alcohol left in the blood.


Alcohol FAQ

What is the difference between beer and wine versus hard alcohol?