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Alcohol falls into the class of a sedative. Alcohol's chemical name is ethanol and it is produced by fermenting or distilling different fruits and vegetables or grains. Alcohol itself is a clear liquid. Different types or brands of alcohol may have color but the color is due to additives and by-products not the alcohol itself.
When alcohol is consumed it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine, and less rapidly through the stomach and colon. There are three factors that contribute to how the body reacts to the consumption of alcohol: 1-the amount consumed in a given time, 2-the drinker's size, sex, body build, and metabolism and 3-the type and amount of food in the stomach.
If a user drinks alcohol heavily during a short period of time this act may result in a "hangover." Some symptoms include: headache, nausea, shakiness, and sometimes vomiting, beginning 8 to 12 hours after consumption of the last alcoholic beverage. A "hangover" is due partly to poisoning by alcohol, dehydration, additives, and partly the body's reaction to withdrawal from alcohol.
Some serious long term effects of the prolonged drinking of alcohol are heart and liver disease or inflammation of the stomach, loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies, infections, and sexual impotence or menstrual irregularities. The risk of serious disease increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
In a 1990 nation-wide Gallup poll, 79% of adults reported they had consumed alcohol at least once. A 1989 survey of adults in Ontario found that 83% reported having used alcohol with 55% saying they have five drinks or more at a single sitting and 10% reporting daily drinking. Among young people between 12 and 19 years, a 1985 national survey recorded 73% using alcohol at least once in the past year. More than one in five of all those who drank said they did so more than once a week. Most researchers agree that 1 in 20 drinkers in North America have an alcohol consumption habit that results in other related lifestyle problems.
Withdrawal from alcohol is extremely dangerous and should be done under close medical supervision. Depending on the amount consumed and how often, withdrawal symptoms include: skin crawls, bone pain, headache, tremors, auditory and visual hallucinations, seizures and sometimes death.