Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol
What is it?
Alcohol, also known by its chemical name ethanol, is a psychoactive substance that is the active ingredient in drinks such as beer, wine, and distilled spirits (hard liquor). Having been produced and consumed by humans for its psychoactive effects for almost 10,000 years, it is one of the oldest and most common recreational substances.
Alcohol works in the brain primarily by increasing the effects of a neurotransmitter called y-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, and by facilitating its actions, alcohol suppresses the activity of the central nervous system. The pleasurable effects of alcohol ingestion are the result of increased levels of dopamine and endogenous opioids in the reward pathways of the brain.
Commonly used in a wide variety of beverage products including: wine, beer, spirits.
Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. Short term effects include:
Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels
While long term effects can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:
High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance
Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment
Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism
Most serious addicts will require rehabilitation, and in some cases aftercare when they finish rehab. Treatment can consist of going to a hospital or rehab/local center for therapy. Therapy can help you readjust to daily life and support you in your life goals, including staying sober.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing addiction or dependency please contact a medical professional
All drugs including alcohol will affect each person differently depending on the persons characteristics (such as physical size, gender, mood, diet, fitness, age, expectations and health), the drug itself (such as the amount used and its purity), and how it is taken and the environment a person is in when using the drug