Friday, May 2, 2008

So You Think You Can Drink

The human civilization has reportedly been drinking for around 15,000 years. And in today’s society, alcohol drinking is undeniably more socially acceptable than its scorned counterparts – smoking and drug abuse. But does this make alcohol much safer?

Alcohol, as some of you might NOT know, is created when fruits, grains or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation can refer to the use of yeast to change sugar found in natural substances into alcohol. It might or might not taste closely like them, but alcohol come from organic foods such as grapes, barley, wheat, rice and others. Now, that doesn’t seem so bad after all. But wait until we get to the juicy parts.

When people consume alcohol, it is absorbed into their bloodstream. From the blood, it travels up from the spinal cord to the brain which controls virtually all bodily functions. Alcohol contains a significant amount of ethanol, a depressant, which slows down the functions of the central nervous system. It blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain, giving the drunken person slow responses, faulty perceptions and alters his emotions, visions, movement and hearing.

Though in very small amounts, alcohol can help a person calm down, too much of it can make him relax too much. People who overuse alcohol become intoxicated. They stagger, lose their coordination, slur their speech and even have memory gaps or blackouts. Reaction and response times are dramatically slowed – making drunken people unable to drive efficiently and think that they’re moving fine when in reality they are not.

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a relatively short period of time, alcohol poisoning can happen. Alcohol poisoning is apparently just that – the poisoning of your system by huge amounts of alcohol you can’t tolerate. This is the state that is characterized by violent vomiting which happens to be its first symptom. Other signs also include extreme and uncontrolled sleepiness, unconsciousness, a dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty in breathing, and ultimately, even death.

Though in moderation, alcohol has noteworthy health benefits, frequent use and abuse can cause short and long term side-effects. Alcohol can do so much more to your body than shoot you to tipsy heaven. It can get you in trouble with the law, make you look really silly and stupid, and it can make you a threat to yourself and to the people around you.

Drink responsibly. If you think you can contain your alcohol, think again.
Copyright 2008. C.King, M.Ed.

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