Alcohol as a drug • Alcohol is an dependence drug. • Social psychologists refer to the perception of alcohol as a social lubricant. • Many people view alcohol as a non-drug because: • alcohol is legal • advertising and media promote drinking as normal • significant quantities of alcohol are sold • alcohol has a long history of use.
Negative impact of alcohol • At least one in every 4 deaths on Victorian roads is as a result of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.05. • Source: TAC
Physical effects of alcohol • The body is affected by alcohol in two ways: • direct contact in mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestine • Influence on almost every organ system in the body after entering the bloodstream. • Absorption is the process by which the drug molecules reach the bloodstream. • The effects of alcohol on the human body depend on the amount of alcohol in the blood, or the BAC.
Blood alcohol concentration • BAC produced depends on: • presence of food in the stomach • rate of alcohol consumption • concentration of alcohol • drinker’s body composition.
Short-term effects of alcohol • Moderate quantities: • slightly increases in heart rate • slightly dilates blood vessels in arms, legs, skin • moderately lowers blood pressure • stimulates appetite • increases production of gastric secretions • increases urine output. • Low to moderate quantities: • reduces inhibitions • affects social setting and mental state, ranging from euphoria to hostility • interferes with motor activity, reflexes and coordination.
Short-term effects of alcohol • At higher quantities: • difficulty in walking, talking and thinking • induces drowsiness and causes sleep • in large amounts — severe depression of the brain systems and motor control area of the brain: • uncoordination, confusion, disorientation • stupor, anesthesia, coma and even death.
Long-term effects of alcohol • Light or moderate drinking does little permanent harm (exception during pregnancy —foetal alcohol syndrome) • Heavy drinking: • seriously damages the heart • damages the kidneys and liver • can lead to mental disorders and irreversible damage to the brain and peripheral nervous system • lowers resistance to pneumonia and other infectious diseases • irritates the gastrointestinal tract.
Brain and nervous system Liver Digestive system Blood Cardiovascular system Sexual organs Endocrine system Kidneys the foetus (foetal alcohol syndrome) What parts of the body can alcohol affect?
Alcohol and pregnancy • Infants born to mothers who drink during pregnancy have a high probability of being afflicted with foetal alcohol syndrome. • Women who are alcoholics or who drink heavily during pregnancy have a higher rate of spontaneous abortion.
Test your knowledge: true or false? • Drinking black coffee, taking a cold shower, or breathing pure oxygen will hasten the sobering-up process. • The type of alcohol beverage you drink can influence the hangover that results. • Taking an aspirin-caffeine combination before drinking helps the sobering-up process and the chances of having a hangover.
Other alcohol-related issues • Create a list of some other issues that relate to drinking too much alcohol. Binge Drinking Drink Driving Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Drink Spiking Crime AND MANY, MANY MORE
Statistical sources • http://www.aihw.gov.au/drugs/index.cfm 2/3/05