What is Alcohol?
Alcohol can be divided into three main categories:
It can be fermented, such as beer and wine; it can be distilled, such as vodka and whiskey; it can be fortified, such as sherry and vermouth.
Alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant, as many people believe.
In its pure form, ethyl alcohol is colourless, but it is powerful. The different colours you see and the different alcohol levels come from the manufacturing process.
Why do people drink?
It’s not the million dollar question. People drink because it makes them feel good, it takes the edge off stress and it makes social gatherings more fun. It provides ‘liquid’ courage to deal with intimidating situations. And, it’s socially acceptable – even expected in many societies.
Problems arise when people find that they can’t feel good, relax, have fun or cope with situations unless they’ve had a drink or two or more.
The effects of alcohol depend on the amount consumed, the size and weight of the person drinking, gender, and whether the person drinks regularly or not. Some people can ‘hold’ their alcohol and some people can’t. Some people can hold certain types of alcohol but can’t hold others.
Pleasant side-effects include:
- Feeling of relaxation.
- Feeling of goodwill towards everyone.
Unpleasant side-effects include:
- Loss of coordination.
- Lower inhibitions result in irresponsible behaviour.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Compromised immune functioning.
- Liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Some people can drink a glass or two of wine or a beer or two a night or a few nights a week and that’s that. Other people don’t drink for six nights a week and then do all their drinking in one shot. This is called binge drinking and is a disturbing trend that is becoming prevalent in all levels of society.
The effects of binge drinking are similar to other drinking habits, but they can be more severe as alcohol is consumed quickly and in high volumes. This puts undue stress on the liver and kidneys and can result in alcohol poisoning, coma and even death.
Excessive drinking can result in physical and psychological alcohol dependence. Tolerance is also a danger, which means that high volumes of alcohol are needed for drinkers to experience the same effects.
The physical dependence results in physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may present within four hours of the last drink and they can last for up to five days.
- Increased blood pressure
- Hallucinations (DTs)
- Heart attack
Alcohol addiction is a problem in all levels of society, in most age groups and in all races. It’s one of the most difficult addictions to get over because drinking is socially acceptable and most people do it. That’s why many people require intensive in-patient rehabilitation to help them recover from their addiction.
FBTCC is registered with the provincial Department of Social Development