Alcohol

Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol.



Alcohol has different forms and can be used as a cleaner, an antiseptic, or a sedative. It is widely used in Barbados and around the world and it is tolerated as a socially acceptable drug,  yet it is responsible for many injuries and deaths as a result of excessive drinking.

It is believed that many young people are engaging in what is known as binge drinking. This is a term commonly used to describe drinking heavily over a short period of time with the intention of becoming intoxicated. 

Binge drinking like excessive drinking can be very harmful to a person’s health and well being and can lead young people to take risks and put themselves in dangerous situations.

Alcohol abuse can lead to poor decisions, impaired judgment when driving, dangerous sexual activity (unprotected sex), and aggressive or violent behaviour.   It also increases the risk of sexual assault.



Excess drinking of alcoholic beverages has several effects of one's health and research shows that people who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become addictive to alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.



Research also  shows that young people’s brains keep developing well into their 20s. Alcohol can alter this development, affecting both brain structure and function. This may cause cognitive or learning problems and/or make the brain more prone to alcohol dependence.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

  • Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system.

  • Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person's perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.

  • In very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication.

  • People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented.

  • Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry.

  • Reaction times are slowed dramatically, which is why people are told not to drink and drive. People who are intoxicated may think they're moving properly when they're not. They may act totally out of character.

  • When large amounts of alcohol is consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result.  Alcohol poisoning means that the body has become poisoned by large amounts of alcohol.  Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. 

  • Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.

  • bad breath

  • hangovers

 

Long-term effects include:

  • cirrhosis and cancer of the liver

  • loss of appetite

  • serious vitamin deficiencies

  • stomach ailments

  • heart and central nervous system damage

  • memory loss

  • an increased risk of impotence

  • high risk for overdosing

The Affects of Alcohol 

Drinking too much on a single occasion or over time, can take a serious toll on your health.  Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:

  • Heart  -  Although research shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease, drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

  • Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle

  • Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat

  • Stroke

  • High blood pressure 

  • Liver  -   Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including steatosis, or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis,  

  • Pancreas -  Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.

  • Cancer  -     Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat,  liver, breast

  • Immune System  - Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.   Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

© 2011 Barbados Children Directory

 

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