Alcohol is a chemical called ethanol that is made from fruits and grains. It is drunk in liquid form, mostly in the forms of beer, wine and liquor.The effects of alcohol are dependent on a variety of factors, including a person's size, weight, age and sex, as well as the amount of food and alcohol consumed. Moderate alcohol intake causes the following:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Slurred speech
- Disturbed sleep
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of focus/concentration
- Rapid mood swings, including to violence or depression
Alcohol, even at low doses, significantly impairs the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can also increase the incidence of aggressive acts, including abuse. Hangovers are another possible effect after large amounts of alcohol are consumed; a hangover consists of headache, nausea, thirst, dizziness and fatigue. Alcohol also can intensify the effects of other drugs, causing adverse reactions or stronger side effects.
Over time, alcohol can cause permanent liver, heart and brain damage; liver cancer; high blood pressure; and addiction, or alcoholism. Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may suffer from mental retardation and/or physical abnormalities. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics themselves.
Discontinuing consumption of alcohol after several years of heavy drinking can be fatal. Alcohol withdrawal can cause anxiety, seizures, hallucinations and delirium tremens. The safest way to quit drinking for long-term users is through a detoxification program.
Alcohol poisoning: After excessive or binge drinking, unconsciousness can result. Extreme levels of consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning, coma and/or death. Death also can occur by the victim choking on his or her vomit. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, blue-tinged or pale skin, low body temperature, and unconsciousness.