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What is alcohol?

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Beverage alcohol is ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. It is a depressant drug. Alcohol is a natural product of fermenting sugars. It is usually made from grains such as hops, barley or rice and/or fruits, but it can also be made from other plants. The concentration of alcohol in drinks varies widely. Wine and beer have between 5% and 15%, while ‘hard’ liquor usually has up to 40%, and sometimes more.

What is a standard dose of alcohol?

A standard drink is defined as 12 oz. (341 ml) of beer, 5 oz (142 ml) of table wine, or 1.5 oz (85 ml) of liquor. It is the amount of alcohol you drink, not the type of drink that affects you. It’s always good to know the alcohol content of whatever you are drinking.

Alcohol affects some people more or less strongly than others, and can affect the same person differently at different times. This depends on body weight, metabolism, tolerance from prior use, food in the stomach, and other factors. There really isn’t a standard dose of alcohol. Know your own limits and pace yourself. A standard drink is metabolized out of your system in approximately 1.5 hours.

What are the effects of drinking alcohol?

Low to moderate amounts can produce feelings of relaxation, lowed inhibitions, and increased sociability. Larger amounts can cause dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, slower reflexes, sleepiness, bad judgment, dehydration and a hangover the next day.

Overdoses can cause loss of motor control, blackouts, temporary coma (passing out), and in extreme cases, death.

What are some precautions if I’m drinking alcohol?

Alcohol is highly addictive and tolerance develops quickly with severe withdrawal symptoms including nervousness, tremors, seizures and hallucinations.

Long term use can damage the liver, brain and other organs, and can result in severe mental and physical problems. Consuming too much alcohol at once can cause death through acute alcohol toxicity. Drinking games are especially dangerous as they can easily lead to overdoses. Alcohol impairs vision and motor coordination. Driving drunk is illegal and endangers yourself and others. If a woman drinks too often during pregnancy, her baby can have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). In the United States, it is illegal to purchase alcohol if you are under 21 years of age. Mixing alcohol with over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, or illegal drugs is dangerous and can lead to medical emergencies.

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