What is Alcohol?

The type of alcohol people drink in alcoholic beverages is called Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol. This liquid is created by using distillation or yeast to ferment sugars or starches.

Even though it is legal for adults over the age of 18 to consume alcohol, it can still have a dangerous effect on you or the people around you. Alcohol is a depressant that slows brain activity. After consuming it, you may feel overconfident and less inhibited that you would when you are sober.  When you are under its influence, you may do things you will regret later. Alcohol also slows down your nervous system. Your reflexes and reaction times are slower because it takes longer for messages to get from your brain to the other parts of your body.

How is it used?

Alcohol is a liquid beverage. Wine, beer and distilled spirits are all types of alcohol. Alcohol is often present at parties or celebrations because it can be relaxing and fun when used in moderation. Alcohol is not dangerous for many people as long as it is used responsibly. There are other people who cannot drink any alcohol at all safely.

What are its effects?

After someone consumes alcohol, their stomach absorbs it and sends it into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, the alcohol then goes into the body’s tissues. The individual’s weight, age and other factors all affect how strong the effects of alcohol will be. The effects are also dependent on the amount of food in the person’s system at the time and how much alcohol is consumed.

A small amount of alcohol may cause an individual to feel less inhibited and more social. The person’s sensory and motor functions begin to slow down as well. As more alcohol is consumed, the person may begin to exhibit slurred speech and an unsteady gait. At the same time, response time slows down and a loss of memory of perception may occur. In the worst cases, heavy consumption of alcohol can cause shallow breathing, coma or death.

People who use alcohol heavily over a long period of time can become addicted to it. Attempting to stop the consumption of alcohol suddenly can cause symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can include anxiety, hallucinations and involuntary shaking of the muscles. Over time, vital organs like the liver can suffer permanent damage from the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol.

Why the need to test?

Two thirds of workplace complaints about substance are related to alcohol abuse. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about the problems caused by alcohol abuse at work, especially when the person who is intoxicated is in charge of operation heavy machinery or a vehicle.

Photo Credit: “Pouring a glass of red wine” (CC BY 2.0) by Rawpixel Ltd

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