April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.
Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment. Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.
There are very specific symptoms that result in a diagnosis of the chronic and terminal disease known as alcohol dependence or “alcoholism”. And alcohol abuse has its own set of criteria for diagnosis.
When it comes to issues related to alcohol, the general public is either unaware or misinformed due to many factors. This is mainly because people tend to only show real interest in the subject when alcohol has affected their own life. And by that time, due to the emotional toll, the facts that explain the nature of the disease may seem unimportant.
The answer may be to go back to the basic effects alcohol has on the human body. To understand alcohol abuse and dependence, it helps to know what happens when a person drinks alcohol.
The Immediate Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. The absorption rate depends on the amount and type of food in your stomach. For example, high carbohydrate and high fat foods lessen the absorption rates. A carbonated alcoholic drink, like champagne, will be absorbed faster than a non-carbonated drink.
The effects of alcohol may appear within 10 minutes and peak at approximately 40 - 60 minutes. Alcohol stays in the bloodstream until it is broken down by the liver. If a person consumes alcohol at a faster rate than the liver can break it down, the blood alcohol concentration level rises.
Each state has its own legal definition for alcohol intoxication, which is defined by blood alcohol concentration. The legal limit usually falls between 0.08 and 0.10 in most states. Different levels lead to different effects:
- 0.05 -- reduced inhibitions
- 0.10 -- slurred speech
- 0.20 -- euphoria and motor impairment
- 0.30 -- confusion
- 0.40 -- stupor
- 0.50 -- coma
- 0.60 -- respiratory paralysis and death
Alcohol depresses your breathing rate, heart rate, and the control mechanisms in your brain. The effects include:
- Impaired motor coordination
- Impaired short-term memory
- Less ability to drive and perform complex tasks
- Prolonged reaction time
- Reduced attention span
- Reduced inhibitions, which may lead to embarrassing behavior
- Slower thought processes
If a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol can adversely affect the developing fetus, causing birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome (a devastating disorder marked by mental retardation and behavioral problems).
Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community. The article above was found at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001944.htm among others of equal informational and educational quality.