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Defining Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are considered to be the most used and highly abused drug in the United States. There are four different types of alcoholic beverages: beer, malt liquor, wine, and spirits, or hard liquor The standard drink is generally one that contains approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol. Some other recreational drugs are: Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Inhalants etc.

The effect of alcohol on the body varies from one individual to the next and is also based on factors such as body type and body weight, gender, the amount and rate of consumption, and the number of drinks consumed in a given period of time. The factors are important to consider when it comes to measuring a person’s current alcohol level. When drinking, it is important for people to understand their alcohol tolerance in order to avoid any detrimental or potentially fatal side effects from alcohol consumption.

Side Effects of Alcohol

Blood Alcohol Content and Side Effects

Alcohol has a wide range of effects on the brain, and the more drinks one drinks and the higher the blood alcohol content (BAC), the stronger the side effects (keeping in mind the above-listed factors).

0.3%-0.12% alcohol may impair judgment, improve mood and self-confidence, increase sociability, and decrease anxiety. The legal limit for driving is 0.08% and anyone caught driving under the influence with a BAC over 0.08% will be subject to severe consequences.

0.09-0.25% people may experience a decrease in reaction time, blurred vision, and unstable balance. It is at this stage that memory recall becomes more difficult.

0.18-0.30% people may have confusion, instability in motions or movements, dizziness, and vomiting.

The most dangerous level of BAC is between 0.25-0.40% during which coordinating movements becomes the most tedious and people may experience serious and life-threatening side effects such as clammy and pale appearance, loss of consciousness, the shutting down of vital organs, coma, and in the worst cases, death. In this stage, alcohol poisoning may occur.

If alcohol poisoning is suspected, emergency medical professionals must be notified. It is important to get the person onto their side so they do not choke on vomit and wait with them until paramedics arrive.

Consequences of Alcoholism

Alcoholism goes beyond just having a few drinks at a party. It is a sign of a larger, more consistent drinking problem that requires medical attention and treatment for addiction. Some signs of addiction include recurring issues such as drastic mood and behavior changes and frequent consumption to the point of dependency.

If there is a family history of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, caution must be taken when drinking.This depends on individual factors including how likely a person is to engage in risky behaviors. In general, the more likely one is to engage In risky behavior, the more susceptible a person is to acquiring problems with alcohol.

Drinking and Driving

Recreational alcohol consumption comes at a large price when it comes to getting behind the wheel. More than 40% of motor vehicle accidents in the United States are as a result of drinking and driving.

Drinking and driving, better known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense, and those found guilty may face legal charges and possible jail time. DUI offenses may include:

  • suspension of license
  • fines
  • possible jail time
  • participation in community service
  • drug and alcohol education classes

Repeated offenses will have a more severe punishment, which may include a significant increase in time and costs of the previous offenses as well as a note of the offense on a personal record, possibly affecting any future employment.

Underage Drinking

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and this rule is strictly enforced. It is illegal to distribute alcohol to a minor or allow a minor to drink in the home without parental supervision. Both the child and the parents may be subject to prosecution if the child is convicted of underage drinking, even if it occurs when the parents are not present. Offenses may include: fines and suspension of license for up to 6 months, both subject to increase depending on the severity of the offense.

If youth start drinking now, they could be susceptible to future drinking problems. Some potential dangers of drinking by minors may include declining performance in school, decreased interest in hobbies or activities, slower brain development and memories, and an increased risk of future problems with alcohol.


It is important to seek the help of a drug rehabilitation facility for any recurrent alcohol-related problems as it not only affects the addict but their loved ones. There are three stages to the alcohol treatment process:

  • Detoxification: involves removing toxic substances from the body. Alcohol use is stopped abruptly and individual may be given drugs that prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: occurs when the individual stays off alcohol and learns to live a healthier lifestyle either through a specific program or by stopping use for an extended period of time, ridding themselves off their addiction.
  • Maintaining Sobriety: the act of keeping away from alcohol use.

The withdrawal symptoms can be fatal so recovering in a medically controlled environment is essential.

What should be understood with regard to alcohol abuse is that recovery is possible and that it is okay to seek help if you or a loved one is experiencing problems. In a treatment center, trained medical experts will help with the entire process so that you can get back to living daily life.


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