KIN 140 Section 9 Dr Mike Walsh
A. Types ofAlcohol
Alcohol is a drug and is the leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group. There are 3
common types of alcohol in our society and only one is ‘safe’to drink.
1. Isopropyl Alcohol
This nondrinking variety is used as rubbing alcohol and disinfecting.
Is also called wood alcohol and is used in antifreeze.
3. Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol)
This is the only type you can drink. Ethanol is made by yeast (and bacteria) fermenting
sugar and then distilling it.
In terms of alcohol content
Beer 3-6 % (by volume)
Wine 9-14 %
Sherry/port 20 %
Hard liquor 35-50 % (70-100 proof)
In terms of alcohol equivalence, the following each has about 0.6 oz of alcohol:
12 oz of beer
5 oz of wine
1.5 oz of hard liquor
B. Alcohol absorption
Since alcohol does not have to be broken down, it is absorbed very rapidly. Twenty
percent of alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and 75 % in the first part of the small
Having food in the stomach will slow absorption and carbonation will speed absorption.
There is an ethnic difference in absorption. Oriental and First Nations people absorb more
C. BloodAlcohol Concentration (BAC)
BAC is measured in volume percent. Currently in BC, the legal limit is 0.08 % (volume
percent) and MADD is trying to lower it to 0.05 %. In the US, some states have their
legal limit at 0.08 % and others as 0.10 %. In some countries, like Sweden, the limit is
BAC is determined by several factors:
Duration of consumption
Alcohol is both water and lipid soluble. This means it moves easily into most tissues.
It is metabolized in the liver and the stomach by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. This
enzyme converts alcohol to acetaldehyde (quite toxic). Then a second enzyme, aldehyde
dehydrogenase, converts acetaldehyde to acetate.
Slow metabolism causes an increase in acetaldehyde that induces a flushing effect. We
have at least nine different forms of alcohol dehydrogenase thereby accounting for a lot
of individual differences in metabolism.
Bacteria can also metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde in the colon and in addition to its
normal toxic effects, can reduce folic acid in the colon.
Slowing stomach emptying with food reduces BAC because of the longer time for the
stomach to metabolize alcohol.
Fresh air, coffee, exercise, and sleep do not change the rate of alcohol metabolism.
Alcoholics have lower levels of enzyme degradation activity because the expression of
the enzyme has been reduced by chronic alcohol consumption.
E. Women andAlcohol 3
Women cannot tolerate alcohol as well as men. Women have less alcohol dehydrogenase.
Women have smaller bodies and even less body water for dilution. Women have more
estrogen. Estrogen enhances the intoxication of alcohol. This means a woman’s blood
alcohol level will increase more than a male’s for the same amount of alcohol consumed.
These gender differences can make a substantial effect on intoxication.All of this means
is that healthy nonpregnant women should drink less than men.
F. Effects of Alcohol
1. Acute Use
Table 8.1 illustrates the behavioural effects of acute alcohol intake based on BAC.
Alcohol depresses neural function. Since most of our behaviours are based on removal of
inhibition rather than stimulation, thus neural depressant effects means less inhibition,
less sense of fear, greater belligerence.
Alcohol is a contributing factor (often in both perpetrators and victims) in greater than 50
% of murders, assaults, rapes, and unplanned and unsafe sex.
2. Chronic Use
As shown in Fig. 8.3, chronic alcohol use destroys brain cells, weakens the
cardiovascular system, increases breast cancer incidence, lowers immunity, increases
cirrhosis of the liver, increases GI cancers, increases kidney failure, increases nutritional
deficiency, increases menstrual irregularities, increases FAS, and increases osteoporosis.
In becoming alcohol dependent one often goes through a continuum or needing a drink at
parties or other social events, needing a drink at the end of a day, and/or needing a drink
to escape daily problems.
Addiction to alcohol is similar to becoming addicted to most other drugs. In addition,
there are other factors, less common with other drugs, that lead to alcohol dependency:
1. Part of Culture/custom
An example of this recently occurred in Korea. They just changed their workers
compensation laws to include alcoholic disorders because of the large amount of drinking
essentially required after work with co-workers.As a side note, they also included death
from over work.
At some weddings, toasting the newly married couple is a tradition. 4
Although some advertising of alcohol is not permitted in our society, it is common on TV.
These commercials, as is their purpose, are designed to increase sales of alcohol and they
do a good job.
3. Sign of Adulthood
This is more common for males. On campus, you can become a member of the 40-beer
club, i.e., drinking 40 beers within the opening hours of pubs. Excessive alcohol is also
associated with stag celebrations and fraternity parties.
In these situations, binge drinking is observed. Twenty-three percent of students have
been found to be binge drinkers, i.e., at least 3 binges in a 2 week period. This percentage
is higher in fraternities and sororities, with males leading the way.
Binge drinking leads to belligerence, and unwanted, unplanned or unsafe sex.
H. Tendency for Alcoholism
Agreat many people are exposed to alcohol but much fewer become addicted. Factors
that help lead to addiction include
Inadequate coping problems
The lifetime risk can be as high as 1/10.Achronic alcoholic will drink any type of
Alcohol is a poison that damages fetal development both physically and mentally. These
effects are not reversible. Inability to learn right from wrong is common in people who
suffer fetal alcohol syndrome.Alarge proportion of prison inmates suffer FAS or its more
mild form, fetal alcohol effects (FAE: more mental deficits and not physical).
J. Conclusion 5
If you can afford a drink, you can afford a taxi.
In Canada, tobacco will kill 3 times as many people as the combined total of alcohol,
AIDS, illicit drugs, car accidents, suicide, and murder. This makes smoking the most
important cause of preventable illness, disability, and premature death in Canada.
In BC, between the ages of 15 and 18, there are 50,000 smokers. Of thes