Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholic beverages have been consumed all over the world for thousands of years. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed and distributed around the body.

In excess quantities it is very dangerous and has many adverse long-term effects. It can cause people to lose motor control and mental faculties.

Small quantities of alcohol in the body cause a change in feeling, i.e. you become more relaxed. As more alcohol is ingested you experience exaggerated emotions and behaviour. You may become noisy, talkative and overconfident, or depressed and morose. When a large amount of alcohol has been taken you become intoxicated. Your bodily functions and mental faculties become grossly impaired. These effects are important and can have far-reaching consequences. For example: driving vehicles after drinking alcohol is an extremely dangerous practice. In some countries, e.g. USA and UK, police use breathalyser tests to determine whether an accident could have been caused by the driver’s impaired judgement resulting from the consumption of alcohol. In the breathalyser test exhaled air is analysed using potassium dichromate. If there is alcohol in the breath, the potassium dichromate oxidises the alcohol and is itself reduced. When it is reduced it changes colour from orange to green. This colour shows that a person has been drinking alcohol.

Alcoholics are dependent on alcohol and are unable to control or refrain from drinking alcohol. Alcoholism is an illness. The causes are not always clear, but its effects are. Alcoholism results in injury to health, family life, social relations and job security of the alcoholic and in fact, if uncontrolled, destroys the individual completely. Alcoholism must first be acknowledged by the alcoholic and then constantly fought in order to lead a normal, productive life.

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