Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is the active ingredient in drinks like wine, beer, and distilled spirits. People have been producing and consuming alcoholic beverages for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Unlike other psychoactive substances, it is completely legal to consume alcohol. However, there are quite a lot of restrictions regarding the consumption of alcohol, the most important ones is that no one is allowed to consume alchohol if he/she will be driving, or if the person is underaged.

Technically, alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down vital functions. Excessive alcohol consumption often results in slurred speech, loss of balance and coordination, slowed reaction times, and sometimes disturbed perceptions of reality. Alcohol also reduces a person’s capacity to think rationally and ability to make wise decisions.

However depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, it can also act as a stimulant, which is why many people drink a beer or two so they can “loosen up”.

Many people drink alcoholic beverages when they socialize, celebrate, or if they just want to relax and unwind. The effects of alcohol are so strong that people throughout history has struggled to control its power. Why does alcoholic drinks cause some people to act like a totally different person? Why are some people more prone to becoming an alcoholic than others?

Although drinking alcohol is not necessarily a problem, drinking too much comes with a bunch of consequences, and can cause numerous health problems.

Here are some of the common signs that a person is at risk of being an alcoholic:

  • Having more than 15 drinks a week if you’re a male, 12 if you’re a female
  • Having more than 5 drinks a day at least once a week
  • Having a parent that is an alcoholic
  • Having a mental health problem, like depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety
  • You are a young adult who is prone to peer pressure
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You constantly experience a high level of stress
  • You live in a home where alcohol consumption is common and accepted
  • You have friends or relatives who are alcoholics

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it inhibits overall brain activity. The main way that this happens is by increasing the signaling of a neurotransmitter called the gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA. Drugs that intentionally increase GABA signaling include sedatives, muscle-relaxants, and medications used to treat anxiety. When a person drinks often, he needs to drink more alcohol every time to reach his desired state, mainly because he has developed a slight tolerance to the substance. This will continue until it leads to alcohol dependence, and then eventually spiral into a full-blown addiction.

In addition to its effects on the GABA, alcohol can also increase the brain’s endorphin production. Endorphins are brain chemicals that give people a sense of relaxation and euphoria. This effect on endorphin production is also one of the reasons why people get addicted to alcohol.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

The length of time alcohol stays in your system will depend on several factors, including the total amount of alcohol consumed and the number of drinks knocked back. In addition, it is important to know that alcohol can stay in different parts of the body because it is carried by the blood; it does not stay in your stomach as most people would incline to believe.

Normally, a healthy human liver can process one alcoholic drink per hour. This means if you finish off your evening drink by 6PM-ish, the alcohol might be out of your system at around 7PM-ish. However, if you had another drink at around 6:30 PM, this means that you will have thirty minutes left on your first drink, and another hour to process that last one, which means you will be sober by 8PM.

The process of breaking down alcohol starts in the stomach, and a bit of the alcohol gets broken down in there, and the rest gets to the small intestines where it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. The liver metabolizes as much of the alcohol in the bloodstream as it can, and the rest is distributed to the rest of the body via the blood.

Alcohol Interactions

Alcohol, more often than not, has negative interactions with many prescription meds, OTC drugs, and even some herbal preparations. Some of the negative interactions that alcohol has with common medications include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache and migraine
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sharply increase or decrease blood pressure
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of coordination

In addition, mixing alcohol and certain medications can increase the risk of health complications like:

In addition, mixing alcohol and certain medications can increase the risk of health complications like:

  • Liver damage
  • Heart problems
  • Internal bleeding
  • Impaired breathing
  • Depression

There are some cases wherein mixing alcohol with medication decreases, and sometimes negates, the effectiveness of said prescription drugs. Also, there are select cases wherein a very negative interaction with alcohol makes the drugs toxic to the body.

Even small amounts of alcohol can intensify the side effects of medication such as sleepiness, light-headedness, drowsiness, loss of concentration, and loss of the ability to operate heavy machinery or drive a motor vehicle.

Since alcohol has adverse interactions with hundreds of common medications, it is important that you carefully read the warning labels or just ask your doctor if it is alright to consume alcohol with the medications or herbal remedies that you are taking.

Alcohol Addiction Statistics

Here are some of the terrifying statistics surrounding excessive alcohol consumption:

  • Drunk driving accounts for more than a third of all the driving-related fatalities every year.
  • In the United States, more than 15 million people are struggling with at least one form of alcohol abuse disorder, but less than 8% actually received treatment.
  • More than 65 million Americans reported that they have been binge drinking in the past month.
  • Underage alcohol drinking accounts for more than 4,700 deaths each year, which is more than all the deaths caused by all illegal drugs combined.
  • Drunk driving accidents are causing the US more than $199 billion a year in damages.

Alcohol and Women

  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are more than 5.3 million women that are suffering from alcohol abuse.
  • Approximately one in two women aged 18 and above drink alcohol, and 18 percent of them practice binge drinking regularly.
  • Excessive drinking can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle, and could sometimes lead to infertility.
  • Underage alcohol drinking accounts for more than 4,700 deaths each year, which is more than all the deaths caused by all illegal drugs combined.
  • Women who drink while they are pregnant are placing their unborn child at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which might cause mental and/or physical defects in the child.
  • Women who indulge in binge drinking are more prone to having unprotected sex, thus increasing their risk for unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases.
  • Binge drinking increases the risk of sexual assault on women, this is especially true for those who are living in college campuses.
  • More than 45% of the adult women admit to drinking alcohol, and 12% of them admit to binge drinking in the past month.
  • Alcohol abuse in women has increased by a staggering 83.7% between 2002 and 2013 according to a 2017 study conducted by the NIAAA.
  • High-risk drinking, which is characterized as having more than three drinks a day, has risen by 58% in women, according to a 2017 study comparing data from 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
  • The number of women who died from liver cirrhosis have risen from 2000 to 2013.

Alcohol and Men

  • Nearly 60% of adult men have openly admitted to drinking alcohol in the past month, and 23% of them have admitted to binge-drinking an average of five times a month (eight drinks per session).
  • Men are more than twice as likely to binge drink compared to women.
  • Approximately 8.4% of men ticked all of the marks for alcohol dependence in the last year.
  • Men are almost twice more likely to drive while under the influence of alcohol as compared to women, and they are also twice more likely to get involved in a vehicular accident.
  • When men drink excessively, their aggression also increases, thus increasing the risk of committing physical assault on another person.
  • Men are more likely to commit suicide while drunk as compared to women.
  • Excessive alcohol intake is a common factor in sexual assault involving men. It also increases the man’s risk of engaging in unprotected sex, which also increases their risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
  • Alcohol abuse also increases men’s risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and colon.
  • Nearly 60% of all legal-age men have reported to drinking in the past month.

FAQs About Alcohol and Alcoholism

Why does alcohol affect people differently?

People’s reactions to alcohol are influenced by a variety of factors, like:

  • The person’s age
  • The person’s sex
  • The person’s racial background or ethnicity
  • The person's current physical condition
  • How much food the person consumed prior to drinking
  • The rate at which the person drank the alcoholic beverages
  • If the person was also using recreational drugs or is using prescribed medications
  • The person’s family history (if there are other alcoholics in the immediate family)

When is it okay to drink?

Everyone should never drink alcohol at all if possible. However, some people should not consume alcoholic beverages, and these include:

  • Persons who are below 21 years of age, or whatever the legal drinking age in your state is.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • People who are in a car driving, or will be driving later, or will be doing activities later that require the utmost skill, coordination, concentration, and alertness, like operating heavy machinery.
  • People who are taking certain OTC or prescription medications that are known to interact negatively with alcohol.
  • People who are suffering from certain physical/medical ailments.
  • Recovering former alcoholics, or people who have no control over the amount of alcoholic beverages they drink (these are the people who drink themselves unconscious).

What is the legal limit for drinking?

According to the law, if a person is caught driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level that is above the legal limits, the arresting officer can have the driver arrested and/or have his driver’s license revoked. The blood alcohol level can be determined using the famous breathalyzer test, where the suspected drunk driver is asked to breathe into an apparatus that measures the amount of alcohol inside the person’s body. Another way to determine this is by doing a blood alcohol test, but this method requires blood to be legally drawn out of the perpetrator, which is never an easy task. 

The legal limits vary from state to state. However, the average seems to be 0.08% or 80mg/dL, if the person exceeds this, he is disallowed to continue driving. However, even if your blood alcohol level did not even reach this amount, if you had even just one drink you should never drive.

How to tell if I have a problem drinking?

Drinking becomes a problem if it causes rifts in your personal relationships, negatively affects your studies, your work, and the way you feel and think. Drinking becomes a problem if you are often drunk and could not seem to control yourself when you have access to alcohol.

More often than not, the person who has a drinking problem does not notice that he/she has a problem. Most of them think that they can quit whenever they want to, which might be true when they first started, but as their excessive alcohol consumption continues, he/she will become a full-blown alcoholic.

Is there something I can do if I, or someone close to me has a drinking problem?

If you feel that you are starting to have problems with alcohol, or if you recently notice that you might already be an alcoholic, or if your friends and family told you that you have trouble with alcohol, then you need to consult with your doctor on what you should do. You can also call alcohol abuse hotlines so you can talk with someone who can give you advice moving forward, like the options that you have regarding rehabilitation centers, and other treatment options that are available locally.

How To Control Drinking Easily Without Painful Withdrawals

If you already know that you have a drinking problem, and you have already tried to quit numerous times before, you should visit the website linked above. You know just how hard it is to quit drinking, and every time you tried to quit you end up failing.

One of the reasons why many people fall off the wagon is because they tried to quit cold turkey. This method, although effective for some, can be quite difficult for many because of the excruciating withdrawal symptoms that are sure to follow the sudden stoppage of alcohol consumption, like shaking, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, and sometimes even seizures.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

However, there is a better way, and you can learn it by joining the course “How to Control Alcohol – The Complete Guide to Control or Quit Your Drinking”. This course will only take a week or less, and it will help you get your alcohol abuse problem under control.

Evidence-based Techniques and Somewhat Unusual Methods to Beat Addiction

If you are struggling with alcoholism or any other kind of addiction, there are many ways that you can free yourself from the shackles of your

There are many unusual and unorthodox, yet evidence-backed techniques that have been proven to help people break free from the destructive embrace of their addictions. The sad part is that these methods are overlooked, and even worse is that they are kept from the public by the government. The truth is that addiction recovery these days have become a big money-maker, with luxurious “rehab centers” that often feel like a vacation retreat rather than a way to help people free themselves from their respective addictions.

Who Is at Risk for Alcohol Abuse

And it is these big businesses that are trying their best to keep the people from knowing about other methods of rehabilitation that are not just more effective, but also does not cost a thing.

Here, you will learn various techniques that can help you cure your addiction for good, and you can use them alongside other treatment options that you care to use.

Become a Certified Coach in Self-Esteem Elevation for Children

The sad truth is that many children nowadays are suffering from low self-esteem, which cause them to go down a self-destructive path. If you want to help these kids, you can do so by becoming a certified self-esteem elevation coach for children.

Is Alcohol Addictive

When you become a certified coach, you can help children feel capable, significant, important, and loved by other people. You will also help them develop a sense of community, by instilling in them the value of empathy and how to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

You will also gain quite a lot of benefits by becoming a certified self-esteem elevation coach for children. For one thing, you stand to earn quite a bit of money, and you can also have the option to work from home.

On the other hand, if you are a teacher or a parent who would just like to instill the proper values into children, you can forego the certification part, and just concentrate on learning all that you can from the course and applying what you learned on your students or on your own children.


Mark Lamplugh Jr. is a fourth generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. He is now the Vice President of Business Development with Solid Landings Behavioral Health. He is nationally recognized in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Mark has placed and referred hundreds of firefighters, police officers, EMS personal and civilians nationwide. He can be reached for comment at