Alcohol is a type of chemical called ethanol, which is produced from fermentation of grains, fruits or vegetables. Unfortunately, some greed business persons use methanol instead of ethanol, to manufacture cheap beverages in order to make profits. Methanol is poisonous and unfit for human consumption. It is used in manufacturing industries as paint thinner.
Alcohol is also classified as a drug, otherwise known as psychoactive substances, since it interferes with the way our brain functions and hence our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
How This Does Happen?
Psychoactive substances are normally small and fat soluble and are therefore able to pass through the Blood- Brain- Barrier (BBB).BBB is a membrane which protects the brain from harmful, dangerous substances, therefore affecting the functions of the brain. Alcohol comes in different types of beverages; beer, wine and spirit. It is worth noting that the type of alcohol does not matter but the amount of alcohol content in the blood, otherwise referred to as Blood Alcohol Content, (BAC).
Why Is Alcohol So Popular?
Generally people drink alcohol because of its immediate desirable impact; once taken, alcohol stimulates the brain, immediately triggering desirable pleasant effects on your thoughts, feeling and behavior. These immediate effects produce pleasurable feelings that make you happy and relaxed such that you are less inhibited. This gives you a sense of well- being and confidence. You become more talkative and sociable.
Why is this so?
Alcohol effects are immediate. It’s metabolism starts within seconds after ingestion since it passes from the stomach and small intestines goes straight to the blood – stream where it distributes itself evenly throughout all the water in the body’s tissues and fluids. These effects depend on the amount of alcohol taken. As the saying goes that, “too much of anything is poisonous”, so it is with alcohol consumption. And this brings us to the question on;
How Much Alcohol Is Safe?
The more alcohol you consumes, the more your brain functions are affected. Too much alcohol interferes with your frontal part of your brain which is involved in assessing situations, making judgments as well as body coordination and memory. This is why authorities have put in place guidelines on the recommended amount of alcohol to be consumed on daily and weekly basis.
According to the US Dietary Guidelines on alcohol, (2020-2025) on alcohol consumption the following are the recommended amount of alcohol;
- For women; 1 drink or less in a day and 7-8 drinks or less in week
- For men;2 drinks or less daily and 14-15 drinks or less on weekly basis
The determination and description of one standard drink in the three different alcoholic beverages; beer, wine and spirit is put at 12 grams. This is calculated as follows;
- Beer 12 ounces of beer, and equivalent to 355 milliliters.
- Wine-5 ounces, equal to 148 milliliters
- Distilled spirit-1.5 ounces, equal to 44 milliliters.
The Kenyan National Protocol for treatment of substance use disorder (2017) also has useful data on the amount of alcohol and subsequent immediate effects as follows;
- 10 – 20 mg ,sobriety and clearing of the mind
- 20 – 50 mg, tranquility and mild sedation
- 50 100mg-impaired judgement and decrease in coordination
- 100-150mg-unsteady gait, slurred speech, loss of behavioral inhibitions
- 150-300mg-poor judgement,nausea,vomiting,delirium,and lethargy
- 300-450-blackout,memory loss, stupor and coma
- Above 450 mg-death.
Even as we are guided by the above provided guidelines from different sources, it is important to always remember that alcohol affects people differently due to several factors .We shall look at these in our next article.