Skip to content

Facts About Drinking Alcohol – Types – Costs – Effects – Statistics

Alcohol is a drug, a depressant. It means it slows down the vital functions of the body.

  • It is the most popular recreational drug in the world.

It is ethanol, found in all alcoholic beverages.

It gets absorbed into the bloodstream through blood vessels in the stomach and intestine walls. Then, after a few minutes of drinking, it travels from the stomach to the brain, where it starts slowing the nerve cells’ action and reaction.

  • About 20% of it is absorbed through the stomach’s lining, while the rest goes through the small intestines.

The blood carries it to the liver, where it is eliminated from the bloodstream by a process known as metabolization. There it is converted into a non-toxic substance.

However, the liver can only metabolize a small amount at a time, and the rest circulates the body. Therefore, the intensity of how it affects an individual is related directly to the amount they consumed.

According to a study, women absorb alcohol into their bloodstream faster than men, but they metabolize it at a much slower rate when compared to men. There are three types of alcohol;

  • Beer: brewing and fermentation of grains. It has a content of between 4% and 6%
  • Wine: Made by use of fermented fruits, primarily grapes, and has a range of between 9% and 16%
  • Spirits: they are a product of both distillation and fermentation. They have content above 20%

Effects

The effects range from a hangover to death from poisoning. Some short term effects include;

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Distorted hearing and vision
  • Decreased coordination and perception
  • Vomiting, which is the body’s defense from additional intake of alcohol
  • Memory lapse, where the victim does not remember incidents that occurred while under the influence

The above are just a number of the short-term effects. Binge drinking and continued use in large amounts is associated with several health problems.

Bingeing is the practice of consuming large amounts in one session. It is defined as five or more drinks at one time for a man and four or more for a woman. One binge drink usually results in getting intoxicated.

  • The cost of excessive alcohol use in the United States reached $249 billion in 2010, about $2.05 per drink.

Long-Term

  • Unintentional injuries such as drowning, falls, and car crashes.
  • High blood pressure
  • stroke and other heart-related diseases
  • Nerve damage
  • Liver damage; (Fatty liver, cirrhosis & hepatitis)
  • Permanent damage to the brain
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach walls
  • Mouth and throat cancer
  • Death

Statistics show individuals whose first encounter with drinking was before 15 years of age are seven times more likely to develop alcoholism when compared to those who took alcohol after the age of 21.

According to a recent study, 28 people in the US die daily in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is the addiction to the consumption of alcohol. It has four symptoms;

  • cravings
  • loss of control
  • physical dependence
  • tolerance

Severe dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as convulsions just eight to twelve hours after their last drink.

  • Alcohol abuse is the most common of all addictions.

However, the fact drinking is so socially accepted often leads to what is known as “denial.” If it is left untreated, alcoholism has severe consequences, just like any other addiction.

Craving is one of the warning signs. Another is the inability to stop bingeing even if it has caused extreme social and personal harm. It has become such a menace in society that many songs about it. Songs include;

  • Captain Jack by Billy Joel
  • Rehab by Amy Winehouse
  • Hurt by Johnny Cash
  • No Children by The Mountain Goats
  • You Are Not My Go by Keith Urban
  • Save Me by Shinedown

Treatment

Research has shown that one-third of all alcoholics that seek treatment have no symptoms one year after treatment, while many others reduce their drinking.

  • Only 8% of all adults with an alcohol problem seek treatment.

Thanks to advances in the field, there are many treatment options available today.

Medication

A health professional prescribes some medications to help reduce a patient’s drinking or prevent relapse. They can either be used alone or in combination with counseling. Currently, there is three approved medication to help addicts.

Mutual Support Groups

These include alcoholics anonymous and non-12-step programs. They provide peer support for people looking to quit or to cut back on their drinking. They offer an added layer of support that patients need.

Treatment

Alcohol treatment centers offer the patient a place where they can focus solely on getting better without distractions. The alcohol rehab centers provide both long-term and short-term treatment options. First, patients go through detoxification and counseling. When a patient has completed their treatment, they have a full understanding of their problem. Then, the patient can choose between outpatient and inpatient treatment depending on their responsibilities and flexibility.

Their main aim is to change the drinking behavior of the patient through counseling. Behavioral treatment seeks to develop skills that the patient needs to stop drinking. It also aims to build a solid social support system while working on setting attainable goals. The patient also learns how to cope or avoid triggers that may cause a relapse. There are different types of behavioral treatments. They are;

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Marital and family counseling
  • Brief interventions