The liver breaks down and filters out harmful substances in the body. It also converts vitamins, nutrients and medicines into substances that our bodies can use. The liver is also responsible for cleaning our blood, producing bile for digestion and storing glycogen for energy.
The liver processes over 90 percent of consumed alcohol. The rest exits the body via urine, sweat and breathing.
It takes the body approximately an hour to process one alcoholic beverage. This time frame increases with each drink. The higher someone’s blood alcohol content, the longer it takes to process alcohol.
The liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol at a time. When someone has too much to drink, the alcohol left unprocessed by the liver circulates through the bloodstream. The alcohol in the blood starts affecting the heart and brain, which is how people become intoxicated.
Chronic alcohol abuse causes destruction of liver cells, which results in scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), alcoholic hepatitis and cellular mutation that may lead to liver cancer.
Symptoms of Liver Disease
Heavy drinkers face a higher risk of developing a range of liver diseases opposed to moderate drinkers. As many as 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop fatty liver disease, which leads to more serious complications down the road. Alcoholic hepatitis, inflammation that causes liver degeneration, can further develop into cirrhosis and may even be fatal.
People who regularly abuse alcohol have a compounded risk of developing liver disease if they develop an infection or are genetically predisposed to liver problems. Those consuming more than two drinks on a daily basis put themselves at risk for liver disease.
Common symptoms of liver disease include:
Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
Swelling in legs
Nausea or vomiting
Liver disease caused by alcohol is avoidable. Most reputable sources cite moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and two for men. In general, there isn’t a type of alcoholic beverage, whether it be beer, liquor or wine, that is “safer” for the liver.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Liver damage can be reversible if you stop drinking. If you have an alcohol addiction and symptoms of liver damage, it’s important to find help as soon as possible.
Over 10 percent of people suffering from alcoholism have cirrhosis, but the overwhelming majority of those with this disease survive if they seek treatment for their addiction.
Treatment centers across the country offer safe alcohol detox and empower you to take back control over your life. Get help finding a treatment center now.
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning occurs when the body has consumed more alcohol in a short time than it can process. The toxic effects of alcohol overwhelm the body, leading to severe impairment, increasingly dangerous medical effects, and if untreated, potentially death. Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, weight, or alcohol tolerance. Because alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking too much, too fast, binge drinking (typically defined as five drinks for a man at one sitting or four for a woman), is especially dangerous. Alcohol poisoning is a major problem, with over 2,000 Americans dying every year as a result, or an average of 6 a day.
The risk of alcohol poisoning is generally measured by a person’s Blood Animal Concentration (BAC) level. BAC measures the percentage how much alcohol is in the bloodstream BAC levels are expressed as the weight of ethanol (drinking alcohol), in grams, in 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. BAC levels can be determined from breath, blood, and urine tests. Because such factors as age, weight, gender, metabolism, and alcohol tolerance determine influence how quickly the body processes alcohol and the amount of alcohol it can tolerate, two people who have consumed the same amount of alcohol may have substantially different BAC levels. This also makes BAC a much better measure of intoxication than amount of alcohol consumed, as it more accurately represents actual impairment. In most states, a BAC of .08 is considered legally intoxicated.
Alcohol poisoning is incredibly serious and fast acting. An individual can go from not having any drinks to a life-threatening situation in a matter of hours, possibly even less. If you are concerned that you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol poisoning, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
How Does Alcohol Poisoning Develop?
The body metabolizes (breaks down) alcohol primarily in the liver. However, the body can only process alcohol so quickly. While everyone is slightly different, as a rule, the body can process .5 ounces of alcohol every hour. That is roughly how much alcohol is in one shot, one beer, or one glass of wine.
If an individual consumes more alcohol before the body has had a chance to break it down, that alcohol remains in their bloodstream, increasing their BAC. The more alcohol is consumed, the higher the BAC rises. This is especially true when alcohol is consumed quickly. As the level of alcohol in the bloodstream rises, the greater the impact the alcohol has on the many body systems it encounters. With every additional drink, the level of impairment increases.
Man Throwing Up In A Toilet As A Result Of Alcohol PoisoningImpairment generally begins with mild feelings of warmth and euphoria. Gradually, inhibitions are lowered and moods become more pronounced. Vision, speech, reaction time, decision making, hearing, memory, balance and more become increasingly impaired. Eventually, all are so impaired that the individual is essentially incapable of functioning. Even walking a few steps becomes impossible. The individual will become what is commonly known as a “sloppy drunk.” At some point, the body will no longer be capable of handling the alcohol, and it will attempt to purge itself of the toxic chemical. Nausea begins, followed by vomiting. The next stage is generally a “blackout,” where a person is no longer aware of what they are doing, are not in control at all, and will probably not remember anything the next day.
There comes a point here the body cannot handle the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. In most cases, the person will lose consciousness and pass out. However, their body is still processing the alcohol, and they may continue to vomit. If a person vomits while unconscious, it may fill up and block their air passages, potentially causing them to die from choking. If a person consumes so much alcohol that it overwhelms their body, the body may begin to shut down. The individual may go into a coma, begin to experience permanent brain damage, and potentially die of numerous conditions, in particular cardiac arrest and dehydration.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Confusion or stupor
Unresponsiveness or incoherency
Vomiting, often uncontrollable, especially if while unconscious
Irregular or slow breathing (Fewer than 8 breaths per minute or 10 seconds or more in between breaths)
Low body temperature (hypothermia)
Pale or bluish skin color
The Relationship Between Alcohol and Crime
Crime is one of the most pressing concerns facing society today, and the number, type, and severity of crimes committed are dramatically impacted by alcohol. There are three primary ways in which alcohol impacts crime. Being intoxicated in inappropriate circumstances can be a crime, such as drunk in public and driving under the influence (DUI). Alcohol abuse can increase the likelihood that individuals will commit certain crimes such as assault or homicide either by reducing their inhibitions or judgment or by increasing their agitation and anger. Finally, being the victim of certain types of crimes such as child or sexual abuse makes it considerably more likely that some individuals will develop alcohol abuse disorders later in life.
Intoxication as a Crime
Alcohol can severely impact an individual’s judgement, response time, actions, and aggression level. As a result, an intoxicated individual can put themselves and others in extreme danger of physical and emotional trauma. To protect everyone, all jurisdictions in the United States make it a crime to be intoxicated under certain circumstances. The most common include:
Driving while intoxicated (DUI)/Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous and often fatal. Drunk drivers are not capable of reacting quickly enough, and they often make bad decisions. The penalties associated with DUI are generally the most severe of any intoxication crime, and can lead to serious financial, professional, and personal difficulties, and possibly even jail time.
Minor in possession (MIP)
Alcohol can negatively impact developing brains, leading to lifelong problems. Also, children and teenagers do not have the mental, emotional, or physical maturity to handle intoxication or its effects. For this reason, the legal drinking age across most of the United States is 21 (other than a few jurisdictions where it is 18), and it is a crime for anyone younger than this to possess alcohol. MIP offenses are especially common in college towns.
Public intoxication/drunk in public
Intoxication can make an individual loud, aggressive, belligerent, and disruptive. This can seriously disturb others and put them in danger. In order to limit damage, most jurisdictions want to limit alcohol use to designated areas, such as restaurants, bars, and homes. They therefore make it illegal to be visibly intoxicated in public places. Public intoxication is often problematic to prove from a legal perspective, and many jurisdictions use this crime primarily to remove belligerent drunks from public places and sequester them in a jail cell until they sober up.
Because public intoxication can be difficult to prove legally and to effectively prevent anyone from becoming intoxicated in public, many jurisdictions make it illegal to have an open alcohol container (that an individual could be drinking out of actively) a crime. Open container laws generally have the least severe penalties of intoxication crimes.
Crimes Commonly Associated with Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol severely impairs an intoxicated person’s judgment, causing them to take risks and commit actions that they never would have otherwise. It also makes them more likely to be talked into something that they otherwise wouldn’t. Alcohol also makes many people belligerent, angry, and prone to violence. These effects are often magnified when other intoxicated people are present, who often egg each other on or antagonize each other. This combination of factors makes it more likely that crimes will be committed. However, in no way does alcohol excuse illegal behavior, it just makes it more likely. Some of the most common crimes that are more likely to happen under the context of alcohol include:
An assault is either a threat of attack backed up by the ability to follow through with the attack or a physical or verbal attack. Perhaps no crime is more associated with alcohol than assault. Alcohol increases anger levels and irritability, making it more likely that individuals will want to commit violence against someone else. Alcohol also reduces impulse control, making it more likely that an intoxicated individual will follow through. Studies have shown that between 25 and 50% of assaults involve alcohol.