Monday, June 20, 2011

Physical effects of Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is present in varying amounts in beers and wines, and in distilled liquors such as whiskey, gin, and rum.

When a person consumes alcohol, the stomach and intestines rapidly absorb it. From there alcohol travels in the blood throughout the entire body, affecting nearly every tissue. Moderate and high doses of alcohol depress the functions of the central nervous system, including the brain. The higher the alcohol level is in the blood, the greater the impairment. 
As blood passes through the liver, enzymes break down alcohol into harmless byproducts, which are eliminated from the body six to eight hours later. But the rate at which alcohol accumulates in the body may be faster than the rate at which the body eliminates it, resulting in rising alcohol levels in the blood. Consequently, alcohol remains in the body, producing intoxicating effects hours after the last drink was swallowed.
Small amounts of alcohol may relieve tension or fatigue, increase appetite, or produce an anesthetic affect that numbs pain. Larger quantities inhibit or depress higher thought processes, bolstering self-confidence and reducing inhibition, anxiety, and guilt. As a person becomes intoxicated, painful or embarrassing situations appear less threatening and, as drinking progresses, speech may become loud and slurred. Impaired judgment may lead to incautious behavior, and physical reflexes and muscular coordination may become noticeably affected. If drinking continues, complete loss of physical control follows, ending in stupor, and possibly death.

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