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Alcohol is classed as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug (Kuhn et al., 2008) Alcohol is a multi-dimensional entity. It has been around for thousands of years and has been known for its many stimulating and mind-altering effects. It is the most commonly abused substance on the planet. Around 2 billion individuals consume alcoholic beverages on a global scale (Zakhari, 2012)
Alcohol consumption is the world’s third-biggest cause of preventable death and disability, according to the World Health Organization.
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and cancer (Cao, 2015). Moderate consumption, on the other hand, has been associated with cardioprotection and improved immunity. Recommended daily dose is 1 / 2 units per day (Brien et al., 2015).
Blood Alcohol Concentration is a measure of the amount of alcohol present in the blood and it rises when ethanol is consumed faster than the body can eliminate it. The liver can break down a certain amount of alcohol per hour which for an average person is around one standard drink which increases the concentration of alcohol in the blood to around 15 to 20 mg/dl (Schuckit et al., 2015). As the blood alcohol concentration rises, so does the risk of impairment and intoxication. Different factors such as genetic differences, food, beverage type, body type, gender affect BAC (Lohr, 2005).
Alcohol metabolism happens in the hepatocyte (liver cells) through three systems that can metabolize ethanol and are located in three separate cellular compartments: The cytoplasm contains alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), the endoplasmic reticulum contains microsomal ethanol oxidizing systems (MEOS), and the peroxisomes include catalase (Misra et al., 2008).
Food in diets must be digested before being absorbed by the cells, while alcohol in food passes right past the body’s membranes and into the bloodstream, where it is carried to practically every organ. Your ethnicity and gender have an impact on how much alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) your body produces. Most Caucasians produce less alcohol dehydrogenase than Asians, Native Americans, and Inuits, while the average woman (regardless of ethnicity) produces less ADH than the average man. As a result, more unmetabolized alcohol enters their bloodstreams from their stomachs, and they are more prone to get tipsy on lesser amounts of alcohol.
The typical behaviour associated with intoxication is caused by the action of alcohol on the brain and central nervous system (Lovinger, 2008). Alcohol induces alterations in many different neurotransmitters and their interactions with receptors (Sale et al., 2014) The main neurotransmitter systems affected are Glutamate, gamma-amino-butyric acid, Dopamine and serotonin.
The liver is the primary site of alcohol metabolism, and alcoholic liver disease can be classified into three stages: The accumulation of fat in the liver is known as fatty liver disease. Alcoholic hepatitis is characterised by widespread hepatic inflammation and subsequent development of necrosis and scar tissue formation (Karsan et al., 2004). Alcoholic cirrhosis is characterised by fibrosis of the liver to such an extent that it stiffens blood vessels passing through the liver, and alters liver structure and function (Mann et al., 2003).
In older age groups, light to moderate alcohol consumption lowers the chance of developing and dying from coronary artery disease. However, heavy drinking raises the risk of coronary artery disease. (Rehm et al., 2010). Chronic alcohol consumption has also been linked to elevated blood pressure, especially in men. (Kloner et al., 2007).
Immediate use of alcohol may cause different types of injuries from road accidents, assaults and falls because alcohol impairs the brain thought processes and coordination of muscles (Humphery et al., 2003). Moderate alcohol use may protect against Osteoporosis. Chronic alcohol use interferes with the absorption of calcium and bone formation and can actually lead to osteoporosis (Derk et al., 2005).
Being drunk increases the chances of having unsafe sex as alcohol impairs judgement and lowers inhibitions (Brust et al., 2005). Long term effects of alcohol use can lead to reduced fertility and can make periods irregular in women (Noth, 2011). It can also lead to impotence, loss of sex drive, wasting of the testicles and reduced fertility in men because alcohol affects testosterone levels (Mendiola, 2009).
Antidiuretic hormones, which prohibit you from generating too much urine, are reduced when you drink alcohol. There’s a potential that a lot of liquid, vitamins, and minerals will be lost. You get extremely thirsty, and your urine may have a faint alcoholic odour. This cycle will continue as long as there is alcohol in your blood, or until your liver is able to create enough ADH to metabolize all of the alcohol you’ve taken.
In conclusion, Alcohol is two-faced. It is both a tonic and a poison, with the dose being the main distinction. There’s no need to start drinking if you don’t already because equivalent benefits can be obtained through exercise or a good diet. If you do drink alcohol keep it not more than one for women and two for men per day. Remember!!!, the amount of alcohol (1/2 ounce) in one drink takes most people an hour to digest. However, some people have alcohol in their blood for up to three hours after drinking.
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