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Alcohol is a central-nervous-system depressant that affects judgment, coordination, and inhibition. Mild alcohol intoxication causes a relaxed and carefree feeling, as well as the loss of inhibitions. After several drinks a person will exhibit impaired judgment, poor coordination, and slurred speech, while consumption of alcohol in large amounts can lead to coma and even death. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. Most states consider a person to be legally drunk at a BAC between .08 and .10. At a BAC level of .40 to .50, a person may go into a coma, while a BAC level of .60 to .70 will cause death.
Alcoholic beverages can be divided into three categories: beer, wine, and distilled spirits. Beer includes beer, ale, and malt liquor; wine includes wine,
|Beverage||Number of Calories|
|Beer, 12 oz.||150|
|Martini, 3 oz.||145|
|Rum, 1 oz.||73|
|Sherry, 3 oz.||150|
|Wine, 5 oz.||100|
|Scotch, 1 oz.||73|
champagne, wine coolers, and vermouth; and examples of distilled spirits are gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey. Alcohol provides no vitamins or minerals, only calories. Small amounts of alcohol are absorbed from the mouth, approximately 20 percent is absorbed in the stomach, and the remaining 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine.
About 7 percent of Americans abuse alcohol or suffer from alcoholism. Alcoholism can be identified through four symptoms: (1) a craving or strong urge to drink alcohol, (2) not being able to stop drinking, (3) physical dependence, and (4) tolerance. Physical dependence occurs when an individual depends on the presence of alcohol to function normally. Tolerance occurs when the same amount of alcohol results in a lesser effect; therefore, more alcohol must be consumed in order to feel the same effect. Alcohol abuse differs from alcoholism in that it does not include a strong craving for alcohol, the loss of control over one's drinking, or physical dependence. Individuals may have a problem with alcohol abuse if they exhibit one or more of the following symptoms: work and money problems, drinking while driving, being arrested due to drinking, exhibiting violent or aggressive behaviors, or continuing to drink despite the problems that result from drinking.
Author Info: Laura Nelson, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z, 2004This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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