New Jersey Drug Possession and Distribution Criminal Defense Attorneys
Common names: Alcohol, Liquor, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Booze
Classification: Alcohol is unscheduled in the US, but over-the-counter sales are regulated (must be 21 years of age) and there are restrictions on its use (cannot be drunk in a public place, cannot drive with a blood-alcohol content of a certain level.)
What is Ethyl-Alcohol?
Ethyl alcohol is a clear, colorless liquid that exists in varying percentages in beverages, ranging from 5-10% in most beer and wine to over 70% in some liquor. The effects of alcohol do not depend on the type of alcoholic beverage, only on the amount of alcohol consumed at any given time. The most common effects are intoxication, impairment of motor skills and judgment, and nausea and vomiting.
The word “alcohol” has long been used to refer to beverages containing ethyl alcohol, a central nervous system depressant created through fermenting or distilling certain fruits, grains, or vegetables. Since alcohol has been used throughout history in various social and religious events, it is commonly not seen as a “drug” and its use is more broadly accepted by society than other substances. But alcohol has powerful short-term intoxicating effects and long-term health effects and addiction potential, making it by no means a “safe” drug. Compulsive drinking is now one of society’s most serious problems, along with alcoholism.
Dangers of Alcohol
Alcohol should not be combined with other central nervous system depressants, as this can result in respiratory depression and other life-threatening conditions. Many accidental deaths have occurred through combining alcohol with other drugs. People who consume alcohol should not drive, as their motor functions will be impaired and allowing them to get behind the wheel is dangerous both to them and other drivers on the road. Pregnant women should not drink or they put their babies at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, with the most serious effects including mental retardation, physical deformities, growth deficiencies, and heart defects.
At low doses, alcohol produces feelings of warmth, relaxation, sociability, and decreased inhibitions. Users may become physically flushed and exhibit giddiness and mood lift. Larger doses produce decreased coordination, causing users to stumble or otherwise act clumsily. Impaired judgment is accompanied by increased response to sexual stimuli and other people appearing more attractive, resulting in sometimes unwanted or unintended sexual encounters.
Drunk people may slur their words and experience double vision or blurred vision. Vomiting is common, as are dizziness, confusion, and increased emotional volatility. Heavy doses often cause users to blackout with little to no memory of the events that occurred. Extreme doses, especially combined with other depressants, can lead to coma and death.
Hangover Side Effects
The day-after effects of an alcohol binge are considered to be some of the worst among psychoactive drugs. Common symptoms include thirst, nausea, vomiting, and dry heaves, dizziness that worsens with movement, irritability, inability to think clearly or efficiently, muscle pain or fatigue, and sweating. The causes of these “hangover” effects are believed to be dehydration, blood-sugar disturbance, and toxicity from alcohol.
Alcohol Tolerance, Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms
Tolerance to alcohol develops rapidly, requiring users to ingest substantially larger amounts to achieve the same level of effects. Those that drink on a regular basis become tolerant to the unpleasant effects of alcohol and are able to drink more before suffering these effects. Psychological dependence to alcohol is very common, with users feeling anxious or panicky when alcohol is unavailable.
Heavy and chronic drinkers become physically addicted since their bodies adapt the constant presence of alcohol. If they stop drinking, they experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from insomnia, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and poor appetite to tremors (the shakes), hallucinations, and convulsions. But if alcoholics simply continue drinking then they can drink themselves to death by damaging the liver. Cirrhosis is an irreversible liver condition where healthy tissue is replaced with scars, leading to liver failure and death.