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Alcohol as a Drug

in Drug Types

First thing you need to knowis that Alcohol is a drug as such It depresses the central nervous system similar to the way general anesthetics do, but it has some major differences from anesthetics.

 

Because alcohol is almost completely metabolized in the body, its effects cannot be controlled.
The dose that would be effective as surgical anesthesia is not much lower than the dose that causes respiratory arrest and death.

How Alcohol Affects the Body:
Alcohol is absorbed primarily through the small intestine and stomach. The rate of absorption depends on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed and the amount of food and water in the stomach.

Alcohol requires no digestion and is absorbed unchanged into the bloodstream. Although it contains usable calories, alcohol itself cannot be stored or converted into fats or protein. In fact, it prevents other calories from being burned and may even reduce the body's metabolic rate.

Once alcohol is absorbed, it remains in the bloodstream until it is metabolized. Over 90% of that metabolism occurs in the liver. A very small percentage is normally excreted unchanged through the breath, skin and urine.

Intoxication and Driving:
We metabolize the equivalent of 1½ drinks per hour. Even after one drink (1 oz of hard liquor, 1 beer, 1 glass of wine), driving ability is impaired. Depending on the size and weight of the person, drinking more than that amount rapidly causes serious impairment of the ability to drive safely.

Driving while intoxicated is illegal in all legal jurisdictions within the United States. Each state has its own laws regarding the allowable BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration).
Many states have settled on .08 as the legal BAC limit, while others use the less restrictive .10 BAL limit. The reason that this level is widely accepted is that most people become impaired enough at this level to be dangerous while driving. As a rough guide, an average 170-pound male reaches a .08 BAC level after consuming four drinks in an hour, and a 137-pound female reaches it after consuming three drinks in an hour. Please note that this is a rough estimate and not to be used as an actual guideline. Individuals vary significantly.

End Stage Alcoholism:
Chronic heavy use of alcohol results in severe physical withdrawal symptoms and often in serious medical complications. In the advanced stage, damage to the liver, heart, brain and other body tissues may be irreversible. Severe physical damage often leads to life-threatening illnesses that result in premature death.

Brain damage from years of excessive drinking or drug use may be permanent. As brain cells die from chronic alcohol intake, they are generally not regenerated, and the tissue of the brain itself begins to deteriorate. Even if sobriety is achieved in this advanced state of alcoholism, the quality of life may be significantly impacted and the physical damage may be so great that it becomes difficult to treat.

It is however, never too late to start recovery from alcohol addiction. Persons suffering from irreversible damage caused by chronic drinking can still begin and successfully continue recovery. Obviously, the earlier, the better.

 

 

Physiological Effects of End-Stage Alcoholism:
End-stage alcoholism is a horrible way to die. Alcohol is a cumulative poison that damages the skin, brain, liver, heart, and other parts of the body. As the damage to these organs progresses with continued use, the body systems needed for life begin to fail.

 

 

  • The heart weakens and becomes enlarged.
  • The liver becomes scarred, shrunken, and hardened (cirrhosis). It stops functioning, causing blood dysfunctions and esophageal varices, and hemorrhoids that can rupture suddenly, causing the person to bleed to death.
  • The brain's internal spaces are enlarged, and the fissures in the cortex are widened. This general loss of brain tissue is associated with alcoholic dementia (wet brain), a decline in the capacity for thinking or learning. Other symptoms of organic brain disorders are mental confusion, impaired coordination while walking, impaired vision, and memory loss.
  • The skin's vascular systems are damaged. The skin's ability to retain heat is compromised. Abnormally enlarged capillary groups, with blue and red spider-like capillaries, appear primarily on the upper body. Unexplained bruising, redness of the skin especially on the face, fluid retention under the eyes, and a "whiskey nose" can develop.
  • Direct tissue irritation and/or induction of enzymes that activate other carcinogens can cause cancers of the mouth, tongue, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, lung, pancreas, colon and rectum. 

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