Alcohol Do you know? Short-term Effects • Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is the type of While using alcohol a person may: alcohol found in alcoholic drinks. It is a • feel more relaxed and sociable depressant (a drug that slows down your • feel drowsy, dizzy and flushed brain functioning). It is produced when fruits, vegetables and grains ferment, or • do things they would not normally do it can be man-made. • make poor decisions • Another kind of alcohol is called methyl • have trouble walking or moving alcohol (methanol). It is found in some • have slurred speech and blurred vision household and industrial products, such as • have lowered blood pressure, breathing, hairspray and antifreeze, and is poisonous pulse to drink. • show aggressive or violent behaviour • A standard drink is considered to be one 355 ml bottle of beer, which has the same • not be able to remember what they did amount of alcohol as one 150 ml glass or said (called a blackout) of wine or approximately 40 ml of spirits, • pass out (become unconscious), reflecting such as whiskey, vodka, rum or scotch. a degree of coma • The more alcohol in the body, the more intoxicated (drunk) a person is, and the Long-term Effects longer it takes for the alcohol to leave the After heavy use over a long period of time, body. a person may experience: • It takes about one to two hours for an • skin problems and stomach ulcers adult liver to break down the alcohol in one standard drink. If a person drinks more • vitamin deficiencies than this, the alcohol builds up in the body. • sexual problems, such as decreased sperm For example, if you have two drinks in one production, impotency (the inability to have hour, it could take the body up to four sexual intercourse) and infertility (the hours to get rid of all the alcohol. That is inability to have children why drivers should not drink at all. • mood changes and emotional changes • In Manitoba, it is legal for people age 18 • brain damage and memory loss and over to consume alcoholic beverages. • liver damage, heart and circulatory problems, and many types of cancer A Danger for Regular Drinkers Regular users of alcohol may not seem drunk, but they are still not safe when doing things that need judgment, such as driving. Continued on Back… Tolerance and Dependence • People can become ill if they mistake methyl alcohol, which is poisonous, for ethyl alcohol. • Drinkers can become psychologically Always ensure that all types of alcohol are dependent (they feel they need it) as well properly labeled and stored in their original as physically dependent (the body needs it) containers. on alcohol. • Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause • Tolerance (a need for more alcohol to get permanent damage to the developing baby. the desired effect) builds up the more a There is no safe amount of alcohol that person drinks. can be consumed during pregnancy. • Alcohol and other drugs used by a nursing Withdrawal Symptoms mother can pass from her bloodstream Withdrawal symptoms range in severity: through breast milk to the nursing baby. Alcohol use may: slightly reduce milk • Less severe symptoms include hangovers, production and impair milk release; affect which are common. Hangovers often baby's sleep patterns; influence gross include headaches, shakiness, sensitivity to motor development and early learning. light and sound, nausea and vomiting. • More severe withdrawal symptoms can REMEMBER: A person's experience with any occur after long periods of regular, heavy drug can vary. Here are a few of the many things drinking. They include aches, pains, that may affect the experience: the amount and increased blood pressure, rapid pulse and strength of the drug taken, the setting, a person's breathing, nausea, vomiting, panic, mood and expectations before taking the drug, seizures, hearing and seeing things that gender, overall health, past experience with that aren’t there, depression and even death. drug and whether more than one drug is being • Professional supervised care is used at the same time. Using alcohol and other recommended for dependent drinkers. drugs at the same time can be dangerous. – If severe withdrawal symptoms are being experienced, consult a medical Sources and For More Information professional immediately. Alcohol: The ABC's, AADAC, 2004. Alcohol Use and Mental Health (brochure), VIHA. Other Risks A Primer of Drug Action, Robert Julien, Henry Holt and Company, 2001. • When mixed with drugs, alcohol can Buzzed, Duke University Medical Centre, 1998. be dangerous. Talk to your doctor or Canadian Health Network website: www.canadian-health- pharmacist about drinking alcohol while network.ca taking medication. Drugs and Drug Abuse, 3rd Edition, CAMH, 1998. • Drinking a lot of alcohol very quickly is Fast Facts on Alcohol, AFM, 2002. called chugging and is usually done in Mayo Clinic F.A.Q. 2002. drinking games. Drinking a lot of alcohol National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is called binge drinking. (For example, five (NIAAA) Website: www.niaaa.nih.gov or more drinks for men and four or more National Institute on Drug Abuse Website: www.nida.nih.gov drinks for women). Straight Facts about Drugs and Drug Abuse, Health – Both chugging and binge drinking can Canada, 2000. cause alcohol poisoning, which is an over- Street Drugs: A Drug Identification Guide, Publishers dose of alcohol that results in vomiting, Group, LLC, Plymouth, MN, 2005. passing out and sometimes death. For more information or for help with a drug or alcohol problem: • People can put themselves in risky Contact your local Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) office or visit situations when drinking (driving while the website at www.afm.mb.ca. AFM offers a broad range of prevention and rehabilitation services, including harm reduction and abstinence-based impaired, having unprotected sex, taking programs for alcohol, other drugs and gambling. unsafe actions which could cause injury). AFM Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information was accurate at the time of publication. Permission to reproduce is granted by AFM. If you wish to order multiple copies of this or other topics in The Basics Series, please contact the AFM Library at 1-866-638-2568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.