April is national Alcohol awareness month. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. Drinking too much alcohol may lead to liver disease, some forms of cancer, risk of injury, and violence. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and at high concentrations it can induce coma, respiratory depression, and death. Alcohol comes in many forms such as ethanol, methanol, ethylene glycol, and isopropyl alcohol. The main form consumed in alcoholic beverages is Ethanol.
There are levels to drinking alcohol and although harmful at any amount, drinking in moderation is always safer. The different levels include Moderate, Binge, and Heavy. Level one is moderate drinking, which is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Level two is binge drinking, which is 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours and brings the blood alcohol concentration levels to 80 mg/dL. Level three is heavy drinking, which is 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.
Blood Alcohol Concentrations and the Clinical effects
50-100 mg/dL: Sedation, slower reaction times
100-200 mg/dL: Slurred speech, impaired motor function
200-300 mg/dL: stupor, emesis
300-400 mg/dL: coma
>400: Respiratory depression, death
Gastrointestinal (decreased motility)
Renal (increased production of urine)
Vascular Smooth Muscle (hypothermia)
Skin (increased temperature of the skin)
Cardiovascular (depresses the heart)
Liver (fatty liver, cirrhosis)
Neurotoxicity (abnormal eye movement)
Cancer (mouth, esophagus, larynx)
Immune (pancreas and inflammation of the liver)
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Cardiovascular (heart failure, irregular heart beat)
Withdrawal syndrome Abuse/Alcoholism
These treatment options are only provided if a patient is being treated for alcohol dependence in an inpatient or outpatient clinic. During this the time the patient is also going through counseling and may be seeing a doctor regularly.
Consuming alcohol while taking any medications can be extremely harmful and sometimes fatal. A lot of medications that are metabolized through the liver have a risk of causing liver toxicity (such as some rheumatoid arthritis medications), and alcohol also has the same risk. Consuming both at the same time puts a person at a greater risk of cirrhosis of the liver. It is extremely important to consume a safe amount of alcohol at all times and not to combine it with any medications.