Alcohol has a broad range of side effects. Though it is legal to consume, it’s far from harmless. Alcohol abuse is still a widespread program in the United States that has a very real impact on society as well as families and individuals.
When a person loses the power of choice over their drinking, this is called alcohol abuse or an alcohol use disorder (AUD). At least 8% of the adult U.S. population meet the criteria for an AUD. That comes out to almost 27 million Americans. The good news is there is excellent help available for people who are ready to overcome their alcohol abuse and find a better way to live.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol abuse has been with humanity for about as long as fermentation. Alcohol remains the most popular drug in America. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages that causes intoxication.
The lowest alcohol content by volume (ABV) at an average of 5%, is Beer. A typical 12 oz glass or can of beer is considered to be roughly the amount of alcohol the average human body can process in an hour. In other words, most adults can drink that amount in one hour without becoming intoxicated. Beer might be considered the “gateway drug” in the world of alcohol abuse. But some young people start with more palatable “hard seltzers” and sweeter drinks these days.
Wine has an average of 12% ABV. Its higher alcohol content makes it more potent than beer, but less potent than hard liquor. A standard glass of wine is about 5-6 ounces, which is also considered to meet the “one drink” standard that’s often references when trying to assess alcohol abuse.
Whiskey, rum, tequila, gin, and vodka are examples of “hard” liquor. They are frequently mixed with other beverages that are non-alcoholic to create mixed drinks. 40% (80 proof) is the average ABV for liquor. The standard drink is typically 1.5 ounces (about a shot glass).
When consuming alcohol, 20% of it is absorbed through the person’s stomach. 80% of the alcohol gets absorbed through the person’s small intestine. It then makes its way through the rest of the body by the bloodstream. It then begins to change the body’s system’s normal routine functioning. The majority of the alcohol is then metabolized by the liver.
The liver is often adversely affected when alcohol abuse becomes habitual and long-term . It can also cause more health-related issues as well. Neurotransmitters in the brain are also affected and change the functioning of awareness, perception, and mood. Long term, heavy alcohol abuse has devastating effects on the body and brain.