Effects of Alcohol

How can you know what your blood alcohol level is?

But you should also know that legal limits require a legal drinking age (21), that the legal limit is different in some states than others, and that the limits may soon be changing in your state. The federal government recently passed legislation that encourages states to reduce the legal limit to 0.08 by withholding federal funds for state highway improvements until the state lowers the legal limit ot 0.08. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia already have the 0.08 limit. Other states are expected to follow over the next few years.

You should also know how alcohol effects the function of your brain. It might help you realize the importance of having a legal limit for operating machinery (such as a car, a bus, an airplane).

Effect of Blood Alcohol Levels on Brain Function

It's not tough or cool to risk your life (you only have one) or someone else's life.

Don't be fooled by big talk from other people who try to make you feel you're not cool if you don't drink and drive. Don't be fooled by their big talk that a few drinks won't matter, you won't get caught, you won't be the one who has the accident.

How silly is that?

How can you or anyone else know you won't have an accident? But if you have an accident with alcohol in your system, it's worse for you than if the accident happened without alcohol.

Don't be fooled by friends who say they've just had a couple of drinks and try to get you to ride with them while they drive! Offer to drive for them. Try to take their keys away. Don't let your friends drive drunk! Call a taxi for them. Offer to bring their car home later or pick it up for them the next day. Drinking and Driving is one of the deadliest forms of alcoholism: it kills fast, and it kills a lot. Mostly young people, and not necessarily those who are at fault, get hurt. Even when death is not an outcome, consequences from car crashes are devastating: disability, trauma, death, guilt, etc. Entire lives are affected.

Drink Driving can lead to many cases such as DUI for an example. In situations such as this it is always best to know your rights and what you are getting yourself into.

Several factors influence alcohol’s effect on a particular person: weight, gender, physical condition, food ingested (type and amount), presence of medications, as well as the amount of alcohol consumed.

Alcohol produces a wide array of effects at the neuropsychological, neurophysiological and morphological level. The immediate effects of alcohol -- which may occur within 10 minutes of consumption -- include altered perceptions and emotions, impaired judgement, and distorted vision, hearing and motor skills. These physical states occur because alcohol deadens the left side of the brain (the rational, logical side) while the right side of the brain (the creative, impulsive side) becomes more active. Long term effects of heavy alcohol consumption may lead to significant brain injury.

Mechanism of Alcohol Absorption

Alcohol remains in the bloodstream until it is metabolized through the liver. During metabolism, a toxin called aldehyde is formed which can damage the liver, heart and brain. The graphic to the right explains further.

Alcohol enters the human body through the mouth and travels through the esophagus (a) . Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach (b) via the bloodstream; however, most alcohol is absorbed through the intestinal walls and collected in the small intestine (e) . The heart (above the stomach) circulates alcohol through the body and alcohol eventually reaches the brain and liver. In the liver (o) , alcohol is oxidized and converted into water, carbon dioxide, and energy.