For the most part, everyone knows what alcohol is. We know that we can get it in various forms, such as beer or wine, and that it can have an effect on our perception and mood. Yet, because it’s a substance associated with over 88,000 deaths each year in the United States, it’s worth exploring in more detail.
Certainly, anyone living at a halfway house or sober living home will have their opinion of alcohol, the effect it’s had on their lives, and how there might be a love-hate relationship with it. However, put simply, alcohol is a liquid that is colorless, flammable, and comes in various forms. The form that is most commonly known is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the kind of alcohol used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol.
Of course, it’s well known that alcohol, when consumed, distorts perception and judgment and can affect an individual’s mood. It can also slow down one’s reaction time, making it dangerous to drink before getting behind the wheel. Typically, halfway houses and sober living homes restrict the presence of alcohol, not only because they are facilitating the sobriety of their guests, but also because the use of it can be dangerous.
For those who drink alcohol in excessive amounts, drinking can to lead to medical disease and illness. Of course, it can also lead to psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. The risks associated with alcohol abuse and addiction is especially associated with binge drinking, or drinking large amounts of alcohol in short periods of time. Because of the ill effects long-term drinking has an recovering alcoholics, many halfway houses and sober living programs are including health nutritionists. Experts find that nutritional eating can in fact aide the healing process during recovery. Returning to a diet that is rich in nutrients can help replenish the body, giving it energy, repairing organ tissue, and strengthening the immune system.
When an individual has a glass of wine or a pint of beer, the alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly. Depending on whether there is food in the stomach or not, the body will absorb the alcohol more or less quickly. For instance, foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats can make the user’s body absorb alcohol more slowly. During this time, an individual begins to feel the effects of alcohol, such as numbness, slurred speech, slowed reactions, and a loose mood. In time, the alcohol leaves the body through the breath, perspiration, and urine. The amount of alcohol that doesn’t leave the body through these methods is metabolized in the body.
No doubt drinking a substance that is flammable is worth investigating its long-term health effects. Yet, alcohol is a major thread in the fabric of American society. It is frequently consumed at meals and social events. Furthermore, the U.S. beverage alcohol industry is a major contributor to the economy, responsible for more than $400 billion in total U.S. economic activity per year, generating nearly $100 billion in wages and more than 4 million jobs for U.S. workers.
Yet, it’s important to know, regardless of whether you’re recovering from alcohol addiction and living at a halfway house or new to the use of alcohol – it can have some serious long term effects. Alcoholism can lead to illnesses having to do with the heart, such as hypertension and an irregular heartbeat. It can also cause impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, pancreatitis, stroke, confusion, and amnesia. Other illness associated with chronic heavy drinking include:
- High blood Pressure
- Nerve Damage
The long-term effects of alcoholism can be devastating and life threatening. It’s a substance worth leaving behind!
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