Alcohol and You

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” The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity. ” ~ Anonymous

What is alcohol?

Alcohol is a clear drink that is made from corn, barley, grain, rye, or a beverage containing ethyl. Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a powerful psychoactive drug, best known as the type of alcohol found in the alcoholic beverages.

Ethanol is one of the oldest recreational drugs. In common usage, it is often referred to  as alcohol or spirits.When a person drinks alcohol, about 20 percent is absorbed in the stomach, and 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. The concentration of alcohol, the type of drink, and whether the stomach is full or empty, all these are to be kept in mind to understand how fast the alcohol would get absorbed in the body.When an alcoholic beverage is consumed it passes down the oesophagus through the stomach and into the small intestine. Although a small amount of alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucous membrane, that vast majority of alcohol enters the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine. Alcohol is water soluble and the bloodstream rapidly transports the ethanol throughout the body where it is absorbed into the body tissues in proportion to their water content.

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Though there are many alcohol recovery centers stating that Alcohol affects multiple organs of the body, “Mind” is the part that gets influenced highly once alcohol is observed into the body.

Alcohol is a depressant, which slows down the central nervous system and can cause drowsiness, relieve pain temporarily  and induce sleep,however, the quality of the sleep is considered to be very poor. Some of the general effects of alcohol consumption are as follows:

  • Alcohol acts as a sedative on the central nervous system, depressing the nerve cells in the brain, hampering and damaging their ability to respond appropriately. Large doses cause sleep, respiratory failure, coma and even death.
  • Affects ability to distinguish between sounds and perceive the direction they are coming from ; reduces the desire to eat and provides a temporary respite from physical pain, if there is any, in terms of sensations ; alters sense of time and space.
  • Drinker experiences mild euphoria and loss of inhibition as alcohol impairs region of the brain controlling behavior and emotions. Has a deep impact on behavior, judgment, memory, concentration and coordination, as well as inducing extreme mood swings and emotional outbursts.
  • Impairs fine motor skills, and slow downs ability to react to a particular situation.
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs caused by nerve damage from depletion of thiamine (B vitamin); when severe, can damage other nerve endings, causing staggering, etc. (Wernicke’s Encephalopathy).
  • Long term drinking may result in permanent brain damage (Korsakoff’s Syndrome or ‘wet brain’), & serious mental disorders.

ON THE LUNGS

  • Lowers resistance to infection.
  • High amount of alcohol may cause breathing to stop, resulting in death.

ON THE LIVER

  • Chronic heavy drinking may cause alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation and destruction of liver cells) and then cirrhosis (irreversible lesions, scarring, and destruction of liver cells).
  • Liver damage causes fluid to build in extremities (Edema).
  • Decreases production of blood-clotting factors; may cause uncontrolled bleeding
  • Liver accumulates fat which can cause liver failure (“alcoholic fatty liver”), coma and death.

Cirrhosis of the liver remains one of the major health problems due to alcohol abuse.Interestingly, cirrhosis is almost exclusively a disease of malnutrition in third world countries, only in developed countries is it associated with alcoholism, simply because most alcoholics do not eat when they drink.

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REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM – Male and Female

  • Sexual functioning can be impaired and deteriorate, resulting in impotence and infertility, sometimes irreversible. Females also have a high risk of developing breast cancer.
  • In men, it may lead to sterility, atrophy of the testes and enlargement of the breasts.
  • Early menopause and menstrual irregularities are common in women who drink excessively.
  • Drinking during pregnancy significantly increases chance of delivering a baby with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome; small head, possible brain damage, abnormal facial features, poor muscle tone, speech and sleep disorders, and retarded growth and development.*

HEART

  • Weakens the heart muscle and ability to pump blood (Cardiomyopathy).
  • Abnormal heart signals, irregular heart beat and heart enlargement.
  • Increases blood pressure, risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Inhibits production of both red and white blood cells.

MUSCLES

  • Due to lower phosphate, muscles become weaker; pain, spasms and tenderness.

STOMACH/INTESTINAL/DIGESTIVE

  • Irritation and damage of esophagus lining, induces severe vomiting, hemorrhaging, pain and difficulty swallowing. Can lead to throat cancer.
  • Irritation of stomach lining, can cause peptic ulcers, inflammation, bleeding lesions and cancer. Minute blood loss may deplete the body’s iron stores, causing irritability, lack of energy, headaches and dizziness.
  • The pancreas becomes stressed from having to create insulin to process the sugar present in alcohol. This creates a significant risk of pancreatitis, a chronic inflammation that can be fatal.
  • Irritation of the intestinal tract lining and the colon
  • Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating and loss of appetite are common.
  • Alcohol impairs the small intestine’s ability to process nutrients and vitamins
  • Chronic drinking may result in inflammation, ulcers, and cancers of the intestines and colon.

BONES

  • Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, resulting in bones being weak, soft, brittle and thinner (Osteoporosis).

If you are a diabetic you could have serious problems if you consume alcohol. Many alcoholic beverages, particularly some mixed drinks, contain sugar, thus having the potential to harm a person who has diabetes. Alcohol abuse can also increase serum triglycerides within a diabetic. Because of this and some of the other problems that could develop, diabetics must refrain from abusing alcohol and be careful to limit their intake.

There have even been recent studies to show that alcohol abuse can even have the effect of shrinking the brain of alcoholics. It has been proven that out of the alcoholics studied, they seem to have lighter, smaller brains almost shrunken in nature when compared to people who were not alcoholics.

As far as women are concerned, they have a lower limit than men because their bodies tend to be smaller, and their bodies also contain proportionately more fat and less water. This means that the alcohol is less diluted. Women also have lower levels of the enzymes that break down alcohol than men, so it stays in their bodies for longer duration.

*Of all of the effects that alcohol abuse can have on the human body, the effects on an unborn foetus have proven to be the most horrifying. Though many doctors may say that it is okay to have a glass of wine or so while you are pregnant, you are still playing a dangerous game with the life and health of your unborn child.

Would you put alcohol into a baby bottle and have them drink it? Well, then it should be obvious that a pregnant woman should not drink, because whatever the mother eats and drinks, it also goes through the body of the unborn foetus.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is a terrible defect & when a mother drinks heavily during her pregnancy, this syndrome can develop. The unborn child can have problems getting enough oxygen and nourishment, which in turn can lead to poor development of important organs. Babies who are born with this syndrome can be small at birth, have some facial malformations, have small eye openings, webbed or even missing fingers or toes, organ deformities, learning disabilities, mental retardation and much more.

Alcohol is a drug and that’s the bottom line. It affects millions of people each day. Unfortunately, the person doing the drinking is not the only one who feels the impact of this abuse.

It has a profound and direct impact on their families as well as their friends and acquaintances. Alcohol has strong and lasting impact on the human mind and body. When you are an alcoholic, even though you may not notice the changes, everyone else around will. It may start with sudden changes in your behavior such as mood swings. Your judgment may be impaired and you can start to have problems with relationships, be it in your marriage or with your children. Down the line, you may start to have problems with your job that can lead to obvious financial problems and maybe even legal problems that stem from arrests due to bad judgment caused by alcohol.

As far as your body is concerned, it can only take up to a certain extent. Continuous abuse of alcohol in a consistent manner would lead you to a point wherein your body will start to rebel. Even if you want to get back to normal life it can be too late by then. Give yourself a gift of healthy living. Life is precious!! Hope you choose life.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Its a nice writing, but I think that alcohol does have some benefits, due to which entire world drink as a part of their normal liqiud intake except few countries like India etc.

  2. haha….advantages of alcohol, if there is any at all, are so insignificant, vis-a-vis the damage it causes to the human body that I refuse to acknowledge that. Nevertheless thanks much for commenting.

  3. Seems that you have been with some great pain due to alcohol which finally made you to write this.

    You should have given some credit to its advantages equally.

    Abdul Rehman
    Tech Analyst

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