From an historical standpoint, it can be shown that people have known about alcohol and have been drinking
alcohol for at least 10,000 years.
Although alcohol has been used in a number of diverse ways throughout history that can be called
"beneficial," it was, however, recognized thousands of years ago that drinking alcohol in an excessive and abusive
manner led to a number of unhealthy alcohol side effects such as alcohol-related social as and personal drinking
Stated another way, it was realized a long time ago that too much drinking results in negative alcohol side
Due to the fact that people in the industrialized nations have been drinking alcohol over an extended time
frame and that many of these people are aware of the damaging consequences of chronic, heavy drinking and alcohol
abuse, why do so many individuals in these nations seem to gamble with their futures by submitted themselves to the
deleterious and unhealthy alcohol side effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
Why do so many of these individuals exhibit chronic alcohol abuse or classic alcoholic behavior? Do
these people need access to more relevant alcohol information about alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
Do these individuals need to develop a more refined sense of "alcohol awareness" so that they can
significantly reduce the multitude of drinking problems that are associated with excessive, irresponsible, and
Why do so many people ignore the hazardous "alcohol side effects" that were identified and discussed
hundreds and hundreds of years ago? Is "alcohol awareness" truly a modern day issue?
An Essential Question: What Is Alcohol?
The alcohol that is consumed at parties or bars is called ethyl alcohol or ethanol. In short, this is the kind
of alcohol that is ingested when people engage in drinking alcohol.
Ethyl alcohol is created by fermentation, a process in which yeast fungus feeds on sugars and/or
starches in various grains (such as rice, barley, or hops) or fruits (such as grapes) and excretes alcohol along
with carbon dioxide (CO2).
Ethyl alcohol is a depressant drug and not a stimulant as claimed by many people.
This fact makes it more clear why so many people become depressed when they drink in an abusive and excessive
manner and why more than a few people exhibit alcoholism and depression at the same time.
The amount of alcohol in drinks varies widely depending on the specific drink.
For instance, while wine and beer usually have an alcohol content between 5% and 15%, hard liquor, conversely,
commonly has an alcohol content of up to 40% or more.
Interestingly, from the least expensive beer to the most expensive wine or after dinner liqueur, all alcohol is
made with the same fermentation process.
The various colors, strengths, flavors, and tastes come from the different fruits or vegetables that are used as
well as from the diluting substances, by-products, and additives used in the fermentation process.
It is enlightening to note that the fermentation process used in alcoholic beverages is the same process that
will occur with apple juice, orange juice or other fruit juices and fruit if they are not consumed.
Blood Alcohol Concentration
The following represents information about alcohol that many people seemingly do not know about. Alcohol
information such as this, it is asserted, can increase the "alcohol awareness" people possess about drinking
alcohol and drinking problems.
When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, roughly 20% of the alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and 80% is
absorbed in the small intestine.
The type of drink, the frequency of drinks that are consumed, whether the stomach is empty or full, and the
concentration of alcohol in the drink affect the speed at which the alcohol is absorbed.
Once the alcohol is absorbed into the tissues, it affects the individual's body and his or her brain.
It usually takes around 20 minutes after having an alcoholic beverage for a person's blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) level to rise. After alcohol is absorbed and metabolized, it exits the body essentially in three ways: via
the liver, kidneys, and via the lungs.
One note of interest: the ways in which drinking alcohol affects the person's body or his or her brain is based
on the above information about alcohol absorption and also on a person's body weight and how quickly the
individual's body metabolizes alcohol.
Drinking Alcohol in an Abusive Way
While alcohol has been used in a number of ways that can be called "positive" and useful, it was, however,
recognized thousands of years ago that drinking alcohol in an excessive and abusive manner led to personal and
social drinking problems. For instance, both Plato and Aristotle were critical of public drunkenness.
In addition, a Chinese manuscript was recently found that discussed how hard it was for individuals to do
without beer and included warnings of the "abuse" of beer. What was the date of this manuscript? Approximately 650
Leaping ahead to Europe, in 1596 in France, an adviser to Henri IV stated that excessive drinking too frequently
ruined homes and families.
In a document published in 1647, a Greek monk stated that drinking alcohol in an excessive manner was
detrimental to the nerves and to the brain and was a key contributor to many medical problems such as paralysis,
trembling, convulsions, and uncontrolled bleeding into an organ or into the brain.
Interestingly, more than 350 years ago some intelligent Europeans with "alcohol awareness" critically examined
the relevant information about alcohol and discovered some of the effects of excessive alcohol consumption that in
modern-day terminology would be classified as "alcohol side effects," the "DTs," "alcohol withdrawal," "alcohol
poisoning," "drinking problems," and "alcohol overdose."
In 1667 in France, a medical thesis was submitted that both announced the positive facets of wine and also those
aspects that are detrimental to one's health such as sleep disruption, ulcerated eyes, trembling hands, memory
loss, erratic gait, gawking expression, and lethargy.
Although this work contained a number of clinical observations that were legitimately attributed to heavy
drinking and excessive alcohol consumption, this "alcohol awareness" and knowledge and information about the
damaging and negative alcohol effects of drinking alcohol was not widespread.
Moving forward to the United States, 1920 marks the beginning of Prohibition in the U.S. At this time the 18th
Amendment to the Constitution had been officially ratified and focused on putting an end to the "evils associated
Around this same time one writer equated excessive drinking with "Grappling with the Monster" and the "Curse"
and stated that the only cure was total abstinence.
Interestingly, the "evils" that resulted from drinking alcohol in an excessive and abusive manner in the 1800s
and the early 1900s in the United States were mainly viewed from a social perspective.
That is, drinking alcohol in an irresponsible and excessive manner was seen as associated with crime, poor
efficiency and production in the factories and the shops, family violence, public disorder, and poverty.
Though this is the case, it must also be pointed out that some insightful individuals did see that excessive
drinking, especially rum, would result in death.
Others, moreover, openly proclaimed warnings about alcohol side effects like excessive alcohol consumption, but
their voices, for the most part, were not heard. If only these individuals who exhibited this level of "alcohol
awareness" had access to the Internet!
Alcohol Statistics and Alcohol Information About Alcohol Abuse and
Many of the dangers associated with drinking alcohol in a chronic and abusive manner, such as the dangers that
arise from alcohol abuse and alcoholism, unfortunately, do not make a "real" impression on people until some of the
key information about alcohol and relevant statistics and facts about alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, and
alcoholic behavior are discussed.
It is with this in mind that the following alcohol facts, statistics, "alcohol side effects," and other alcohol
information about drinking problems will be presented.
It is also hoped that these alcohol facts and statistics will result in an enhanced level of "alcohol
According to a study undertaken by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia
University in 2005, the following statistics about alcohol abuse and alcoholism were discovered:
- Every day in the U.S. more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink.
- Every year in the U.S. more than 150,000 college students develop health problem that are
- Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $220 billion in 2005. This dollar
amount was more than the cost associated with cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).The 9.6% of
adult alcoholics drink 25% of the alcohol that is consumed by all adult drinkers.
- American youth who drinking before the of age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than young
people who do not drink before the age of 21.
- Every year, 1,400 American college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related
inadvertent injuries, including motor vehicle accidents.
- In the United States during 2004, 16,694 deaths occurred as a result of alcohol-related motor-vehicle
crashes. This amount was approximately 39% of all traffic fatalities. This amounts to one alcohol-related death
every 31 minutes.
- The 25.9% of underage drinkers who are alcohol abusers and alcohol dependent drink 47.3% of the alcohol
that is consumed by all underage drinkers.
It is apparent from these alcohol abuse and alcoholism facts and statistics that drinking alcohol in an
irresponsible, excessive way results in a host of problems and issues that are not only widespread in our society,
but that also lead to devastation and destruction that are experienced at the personal as well as at the societal
In a word, the unhealthy and damaging alcohol side effects such as alcohol abuse and alcoholism cry out for
increased alcohol awareness in our society.
Linking Medical Problems to Alcoholism
The focus on the results of excessive drinking from a medical perspective received a substantial boost from a
doctor named E.M. Jellinek.
More to the point, Dr. Jellinek was the first person in the United States to formulate a taxonomy of medical
issues and problems that were observable in chronic alcoholics. And make note of the fact that this important work
was undertaken by Dr. Jellinek in 1937!
It should also be mentioned that Dr. Jellinek was actively involved in some of the early alcoholism studies
sponsored by the World Health Organization.
Directly or indirectly due to this interesting working relationship, in 1952, the World Health Organization used
Dr. Jellinek's definition for the term "alcoholic" in their own documents: "Alcoholics are those excessive drinkers
whose dependence on alcohol has attained such a degree that it shows notable disturbance or an interference with
their bodily and mental health, their personal relationships and smooth economic functioning or who show prodromal
signs of such a development. They therefore need treatment."
As a result of the above discussion, it can be concluded that concepts such as alcohol treatment, alcoholic
behavior, and alcohol rehab were being formulated and articulated in the United States nearly 70 years ago!
Much of the early work by Dr. Jellinek and others with "alcohol awareness" has formulated current policies,
procedures, and programs for the chronic use and abuse of both alcohol and drug.
Not only this, but the work of Dr. Jellinek and many other early pioneers in the substance abuse field has
provided input into the creation and implementation of some of the alcohol and drug laws that currently exist in
the United States.
When reviewing Dr. Jellinek's work from an historical context, it is evident that his monumental work influenced
the entire area of alcohol testing and related areas of research such as "blood alcohol content" and "blood alcohol
Without a doubt, Dr. Jellinek possessed a level of "alcohol awareness" and alcohol information that was probably
unsurpassed in his day or in ours.
While U.S. doctors in the 1950s were cognizant of the interrelationships that existed between alcohol abuse and
alcoholism and diseases such as the degeneration of the liver, gastritis, and hepatic cirrhosis, today's doctors
have more expertise about the many diverse ways in which the different organs and systems of the body are damaged
and changed by chronic alcohol dependence.
Today's physicians are also better informed about other critical alcohol-related facts and issues such as fetal
Information on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Teenagers
Due to the fact that there are millions of American teens who are problem drinkers, alcohol abusers, or exhibit
alcoholic behavior, learning about the short-term and the long-term effects of drinking alcohol in an excessive,
chronic, and abusive manner is critically important concerning teenage drinkers.
If, however, a teenager can read about or hear about, conceptualize, and internalize the facts and statistics
concerning teen alcohol abuse and teenage alcoholism, and do so in a healthy and growth-fostering way, perhaps they
may be able to avoid the devastating effects that are intrinsically related to teenage alcohol abuse and alcoholism
in our society.
It is access to relevant and factual alcohol information about alcohol abuse and alcoholism and acting on this
information that gives rise to heightened "alcohol awareness" in our teens and in our adults.
We have included some alcoholism videos so that you can see and hear
directly from various people about their struggles with this disease. If you, one of your friends, or a member of
your family has a drinking problem, seeing what others have gone through, how they handled their alcohol abuse,
alcoholism problems, and their "alcohol side effects," and how they attained successful recovery is much more
"reality-based" than any information about alcohol that you can read.
In addition, watching these videos may help you understand what others with a drinking problem are experiencing,
how reaching the "bottom of the barrel" increased their alcohol information and "alcohol awareness," how they
overcame their alcoholic behavior, and how drinking alcohol has changed their lives.
So make sure you look at these excellent videos, particularly if one of your friends, a family member, or you
are a "problem drinker."
Alcohol Information: Conclusion
Although alcohol has been used in a variety of ways throughout history that can be called useful or "positive,"
it is interesting to note that thousands of years ago it was known that drinking alcohol in an abusive and
excessive way resulted in a multitude of drinking problems and unhealthy "alcohol side effects."
For example, Aristotle and Plato, two of the more famous ancient Greek philosophers who possesses a refined
sense of "alcohol awareness," openly criticized people who exhibited public drunkenness.
Moreover, a Chinese manuscript written around 650 B.C. was recently found which stated how difficult it was for
people to do without beer and actually included warnings of the "abuse" of beer.
Ironically, in spite of the fact that basic alcohol information such as the negative consequences of drinking
alcohol in an abusive and excessive manner has been known for centuries, alcoholic behavior, alcohol abuse, and
alcoholism continue to damage human lives in our "enlightened" and "aware" society.
It is alcohol information about alcohol abuse and alcoholism like this that states loud and
clear that the industrialized nations of the world need to educate their people with the relevant facts,
statistics, and consequences of abusive, irresponsible, chronic, and heavy drinking so that their people can raise
their level of "alcohol awareness" and significantly reduce the alcohol-related horror stories, destructive alcohol
side effects, and tragic drinking problems that happen all too frequently in today's modern world.
In spite of the assertions made by quite a few individuals that alcohol is a stimulant because it helps them
"unwind" in social situations, alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant. This fact perhaps goes a long way in
explaining why alcoholism and depression routinely occur in the same individual.