Alcohol

What is alcohol?

What alcohol is, is actually  quite tricky to explain . Basically alcohol is made by fermentation, which is the action of yeast on liquids containing sugar and starches. Alcohol is the product of the natural process of fermentation which happens when fruit, grain or vegetables start to rot. Pure alcohol has no colour or taste. It is also really important to note that it is actually against the law for people under the age of 18 to drink alcohol. People under 18 are also breaking the law if they:

*Buy alcohol

*Receive or have alcohol on them.

*Drink alcohol in a hotel or public place (Such as a street, park or beach).

It is an offence to sell alcohol to people who are under 18 years old. It is also an offence for someone under 18 to consume alcohol on licensed premises, even if they are with a parent or a caregiver. Driving while drunk is also a very serious  offence and is deadly.

How does your body deal with alcohol?

When alcohol is consumed, the alcohol is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and the small intestine. The food in your stomach slows down the rate to which the alcohol is being absorbed. However all alcohol consumed will eventually reach the blood stream. Nearly all the alcohol is broken down by the liver, did you know that your liver works at a fixed rate , removing about one standard drink (10 grams of alcohol) an hour? Drinking a lot of alcohol at night still can mean that there is a high  level of alcohol in the blood stream the next day.

What happens if you drink to much alcohol in one night?  

Yes it is true that you can overdose on alcohol, overdosing on alcohol can result  in the following:

*Nausea

*Vomiting

*Slow and shallow breathing

Also its important to note that you can also get alcohol poisoning which may lead to death.

What happens if Drugs and Alcohol are mixed?

You should never ever mix drugs and alcohol even if it is a prescribed medicine because the results are incredibly dangerous. Mixing alcohol and other  drugs together can produce extremely unpredictable results. The effects of one drug can actually change or alter the effects of another drug when alcohol is involved. For example one drug could hide the dangerous  effects of another drug , making it really hard to tell how  the person has been affected. A person might think that they are okay without actually knowing what’s really happening and going on  inside their body.

So what happens after drinking alcohol? 

Below is a step by step list of the effects of alcohol when drunken:

1. After a few drinks – Feel happy, more relaxed, it becomes harder to concentrate  and your reactions become much slower.

2. After a few more –  Feel way more confident, less co-ordination, slurred speech, mood changes e.g. Happy, sad, angry.

3. After A few more – Confusion, blurred vision, poor muscle control.

4. More Still – Nausea, vomiting, wanting to sleep or falling asleep.

5. Even More – May cause coma or even death.

What are the Long – term effects of Alcohol?

If you have a habit of drinking alcohol heavily over a long period of time this can cause damage to many parts of the body. Below is a list of the body parts which are most affected and what damage alcohol is actually doing to  your body.

1. Nervous System – Tingling and loss of feeling in hands and feet.

2. Blood – Changes in your red blood cells.

3. Heart –  High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, enlarged heart.

4. Brain  –  Brain injury, loss of memory, confusion and hallucinations.

5. Lungs – Greater chance of infections.

6. Muscles – Weakness, loss of muscle tissue

7. Skin – Redness, sweating and bruising.

8. Liver –  Liver damage including swelling and pain, hepatitis, liver cancer.

9. Pancreas – Inflamed pancreas causing pain.

10. Stomach – Inflamed lining, bleeding, ulcers.

11. Intestines – Inflamed lining, ulcers.

Being Safe at a party

Remember that before you got to a party it is really important to plan beforehand with your friends, you should also talk about:

*Going as a group.

*Sticking together at the party.

* What each person plans to do and where each person plans to go.

*How there are going to get there and back.

* How long they are going to stay for.

*Do not get into a vehicle if the driver has been drinking or taking other drugs.

*Use public transport or call an taxi.

*  Arrange to be picked up by an responsible adult.

*Avoid walking home alone .

Also remember to pour your own drinks when you are at a party as people tend to spike drinks with drugs and/ or  alcohol without the person actually realising. Most importantly if you do not feel safe at a party, tell your friends that you want to leave and have someone safely drive them home.

Signs and Symptoms if you have an drinking problem

1. You feel ashamed or guilty of your drinking.

2. Lie to others or hide your drinking habits.

3. If you have friends or family who are concerned about your drinking.

4. When you are stressed you feel the need to drink to relax or feel better. Did you know that this is most common way how a drinking problem can start. When you use alcohol to soothe yourself or help get rid of stress.

5. You often “Blackout” or forget what you did while you were drinking.

6. Always drink way more then you had intended too.

7. No limits regarding their drinking.

8.On a daily basis your constantly neglecting your responsibilities at home, school, work etc. because of your drinking and also because you are usually too hungover to deal with anything.

9. Using alcohol in physically dangerous situations, this includes drinking and driving, operating heavy machinery when drunk, and also mixing prescription medication and alcohol together when the doctor has strictly told you not too.

10. Constant legal problems regarding your drinking eg often being arrested for disorderly conduct or driving under the influence of alcohol.

11. Continue to drink even though your alcohol use is causing problems, for example constantly fighting with your family because of the way you act when you are drinking.

12. Always getting drunk after a stressful day, reaching for the bottle after every time you have an argument etc.

It is also really important to note that there is a difference between abusing alcohol and actually being a alcoholic therefore the warning signs can be very different.

Major  Warning Signs of being a Alcoholic 

Alcoholism or being an alcoholic involves all of the symptoms of alcohol abuse but it also involves another crucial warning sign- Your physical dependence on alcohol. If you rely on alcohol to function or if you feel physically compelled/ feel like you must drink, the truth is you are an alcoholic.

Tolerance is the first major warning sign associated with Alcoholism. If you answer yes to the following questions you are already on your way to being an alcoholic:

1. Do you have to drink a lot more than you used to in order to feel relaxed or completely drunk?

2.Can you drink more than other people and still not get drunk?

Tolerance also means that over time you need more and more alcohol to feel the same affects that you used to when you first began drinking.

The second major warning sign of being an alcoholic is withdrawal. If you drink regularly to stop feeling so anxious or shaky. If you drink to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms  is a huge sign of being alcoholic.  When you drink heavily your body starts to get used to amount of alcohol and if the alcohol is taken away you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

*Anxiety / Jumpiness / shaking/ trembling etc

*Sweating

*Feeling nauseous or vomiting

*Feeling really tired and lack of sleep.

*Depression

*Irritability

*Constant  headaches

*Eat less than you usually do or loss of appetite.

More Warning signs of Alcoholism

1. You have clearly lost all control of your drinking

2. You want to quit or you have tried to, but you just can’t.

3. You have given up on doing other activities because of your constant drinking.

4. Your drinking is taking up all your focus and time.

5. You drink even though it is causing problems.

How  to Help someone else with an alcohol problem or alcoholism

If someone you know perhaps a parent, family member of friend has a serious drinking problem , you may realise that their problem with alcohol is actually really overwhelming that to you it may seem easier to ignore their serious problem and pretend that something is wrong at all. Also remember that even though you want to help them you must also take care of yourself , and also get the support that you will need (Like seeing a counsellor). it is also quite important to openly  talk to someone you trust about what you are going through. A great place for you to get support is to join an free support group that helps families deal with an alcoholic or alcohol problem in the family. Sometimes going to those groups and listening to others who are in the same situation as you are in can really help comfort and support you. You can help someone with a drinking problem by encouraging to help them seek support and treatment i.e.. rehab, AA support groups, seeing a therapist etc…

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