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Alcohol and Tobacco This topic discusses the complexities of alcohol and tobacco use and provides information that will help you make choices that are right for you. I. Alcohol and the Body A. Alcohol affects different people in different ways. B. Common Alcoholic Beverages 1. Ethyl alcohol is the common psychoactive ingredient in all alcoholic beverages. a. Other types of alcohol, including methanol (wood alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) are highly toxic and can cause blindness and other serious problems, even in small amounts. 2. There are several basic types of alcoholic beverages. a. Beer, brewed from a mixture of grains, contains 3–6% alcohol. b. Ales and malt liquors are similar to beer but contain more alcohol at 6–8%. c. Wines are made by fermenting the juices of grapes or other fruits, with alcohol concentrations varying from 9% to 14%. i. Fortified wines (sherry, port, Madeira) contain about 20% alcohol. d. Hard liquor, made by distilling brewed or fermented grains, usually contains 35% to 50% alcohol but can be much stronger. 3. Alcohol concentration is indicated by proof value, which is twice the percentage concentration (a 100-proof beverage contains 50% alcohol). 4. “Standard Drinks” versus Actual Servings a. A standard drink means the beverage typically contains about 0.6 ounce of alcohol. b. A typical serving of most alcoholic beverages is larger than a single standard drink. 5. Caloric Content a. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, and the alcohol in one drink supplies about 100 to 120 calories. i. The “light” in light beer refers to calories; a light beer typically has close to the same alcohol content as a regular beer and about 100 calories. C. Absorption 1. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol produces feelings of intoxication. The rate of absorption is affected by a variety of factors. a. Carbonation and artificial sweeteners increase the rate of absorption. b. The presence of food in the stomach slows the rate of absorption. c. The drinking of highly concentrated alcoholic beverages also slows the rate of absorption. 2. When a person ingests alcohol: a. About 20% of alcohol is rapidly absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream. b. About 75% is absorbed through the upper part of the small intestine. c. The remaining alcohol enters the bloodstream along the gastrointestinal tract.D. Metabolism and Excretion 1. Alcohol easily moves throughout most biological membranes and is distributed throughout most body tissues. 2. Alcohol metabolizes in the liver through several different processes. 3. About 2% to 10% is not metabolized but is excreted unchanged by lungs, kidneys, and sweat glands. a. Excreted alcohol forms the basis for breath and urine analyses of alcohol concentrations in the blood. 4. Alcohol readily enters the human brain. a. Alcohol changes the ability of brain cells to receive messages and disrupts networks within the brain. b. Chronic heavy use will make these changes permanent, changing both brain structure and function. c. Alcohol interferes with the production of new brain cells in unborn children, young children, adolescents, and young adults, whose brains are still developing. E. Alcohol Intake and Blood Alcohol Concentration 1. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the ratio of alcohol in a person’s blood by weight. 2. BAC is determined by the amount of alcohol consumed in a given amount of time and by individual factors. a. Body weight: A smaller person develops a higher BAC than a larger person after drinking the same amount of alcohol. A smaller person has less overall body tissue into which alcohol can be distributed. b. Percentage of body fat: A person with a higher percentage of body fat will usually develop a higher BAC than a more muscular person of the same weight. i. Alcohol does not concentrate as much in fatty tissue as in muscle and most other tissues, in part because fat has fewer blood vessels. c. Sex: Women metabolize less alcohol in the stomach than men do because the stomach enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream is four times more active in men than women. This means that more unmetabolized alcohol is released in the bloodstream in women. i. Hormonal fluctuations also may affect the rate of alcohol metabolism, making a woman more susceptible to high BAC at certain times during her menstrual cycle. 3. BAC also depends on the balance between rate of alcohol absorption and rate of alcohol metabolism. a. A 150-pound man with normal liver function metabolizes 0.3 ounces of alcohol per hour, the equivalent of about half a 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine. b. Metabolic rate is largely determined by genetics and drinking behavior. i. Chronic drinking activates an enzyme in the liver, so people who drink frequently metabolize alcohol at a more rapid rate than nondrinkers. c. It cannot be affected by exercising, breathing deeply, eating, drinking coffee, taking other drugs, or sleeping.4. If a person absorbs less alcohol per hour than he or she can metabolize, BAC remains low. a. Drinking alcohol this way means large amounts can be consumed over a long period of time without a person’s becoming noticeably intoxicated, although this behavior is a danger to health in the long term. b. Absorbing alcohol more quickly than it can be metabolized leads to intoxication. II. Alcohol’s Immediate and Long-Term Effects A. The effects of alcohol on health depend on the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of alcohol consumed. B. Immediate Effects 1. The amount of alcohol in the blood is the primary factor for determining the effects of alcohol. 2. Low Concentrations of Alcohol a. With BAC of 0.03% to 0.05%, light-headedness, relaxation, and release of inhibitions can occur. b. At this level, alcohol acts as a stimulant because it depresses inhibitory centers in the brain. 3. Higher Concentrations of Alcohol a. Pleasant effects are replaced by more negative ones: reduced motor coordination, verbal performance, and intellectual functions. b. At levels of 0.1%, major reductions in most sensory and motor functioning occur, people become sleepy, and the senses become less acute. c. At 0.2%, most drinkers are totally unable to function, physically or psychologically. d. Coma generally occurs with levels of 0.35%, and any higher level can be fatal. 4. Alcohol Hangover a. Hangover is

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CSU HES 145 - Outline Alcohol and Tobacco

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