The type of alcohol used in drinks is called ethyl alcohol. It is a depressant drug, which means it slows the activity of the central nervous system. Alcohol is made from fermented sugars from various plants such as barley, rice and/or fruits.
Alcohol concentration depends on the type of drink:
- 341 ml/12 oz bottle of regular beer has 5% alcohol,
- 142ml/ 5 oz glass of wine has 12% alcohol,
- 43 ml/ 1.5 oz of spirits could have 40% alcohol concentration or more.
The actual effect of alcohol on an individual depends on a number of issues. Perhaps you have been at a social event or party and noticed that two people who consume the same amount of alcohol react very differently. This is because alcohol affects different people in different ways. Women cannot break down alcohol as quickly as men can. This means that a woman could drink the same amount as a man, but could actually have more alcohol in her blood. In the same way, older adults can’t break down alcohol as quickly as younger adults and teenagers. They could drink the same amount as a younger person, but be affected very differently. Other factors such as body size and tolerance can cause alcohol to affect people in different ways.
Of course, the number one factor on how alcohol affects an individual is the total volume of alcohol ingested.
Drinking low to moderate amounts can produce feelings of relaxation, lowered inhibitions, and increased social ability. A person’s reaction time slows down, which may hinder their ability to do certain tasks.
Drinking larger amounts of alcohol can cause less desirable effects such as slurred speech, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, slow reflexes, poor judgement, dehydration, and hangovers the next day. Overdoses are possible and can cause loss of coordination, blackouts, and even death.
Performing any task while under the influence can be risky. The legal system is cracking down on drinking and driving, which can end up costing more than just money should something happens. The best way to avoid any problems is avoid alcohol before driving.
Consumption of large amounts of alcohol over time can cause serious damage to the brain, liver, and other organs. If you choose to drink BE CAREFUL! Alcohol is an addictive drug and tolerance to it develops quickly! Follow Canada's low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines to reduce your risks of harm from alcohol. For more information on alcohol in general check out Health Canada’s site on alcohol.