Why do so many people drink? Some do because they believe that it makes them more carefree and makes it easier to have a better time. People often seem to be less shy and more outgoing after a few drinks. But a few drinks can quickly turn into many. Sometimes so many that the alcohol can effect your consciousness to the point where you may experience blackouts and may even kill yourself. Alcohol has been around for at least 5000 years. Overuse of alcohol is a major problem for 10% of Americans. The focus of this study is to show what happens to your state of consciousness after a few too many drinks and the effects it has on your body and brain. This paper will also discuss a story and interview of a girl named Emily (name has been changed) and how having a problem with alcohol has effected her behavior and day to day life.
Alcohol is absorbed quickly through the stomach and the gastrointestinal tract. No digestion is required. Absorption rates for alcohol depend on the amount and type of food in the stomach (for example, high protein and high fat foods decrease absorption rates) and whether or not the beverage is carbonated. The effects of alcohol may appear within 10 minutes after consumption and peak at approximately 40 to 60 minutes. Alcohol remains in the bloodstream until the liver breaks it down. If an individual consumes alcohol at a faster rate than it can be broken down by the liver, the blood alcohol concentration level rises. Since alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and alcohol also depresses the breathing rate, heart rate, and the control mechanisms in the brain. Alcohol is more dangerous than many people realize. Even in small doses alcohol has an effect on the nervous system. The effects on the nervous system may include: impaired ability to perform complex tasks (such as driving), reduction of inhibitions and embarrassment, reduction in anxiety, decreased attention span, impaired short term memory, impaired motor coordination, prolonged reaction time, and less rapid thought processing. There are many factors that can contribute to how intoxicated a person can become, and how fast their state of consciousness becomes altered.
One is how much you weigh and your body type. In general, the less you weigh the more you will be affected by a given amount of alcohol. However, for people of the same weight, a well-muscled individual will be less affected than someone with a higher percentage of fat since fatty tissue does not contain very much water and will not absorb very much alcohol. Another factor is alcohol content. It’s not how many drinks that you have, but how much alcohol that you consume. The amount in each type of drink varies so if a person drinks 1 mixed drink with a very high alcohol content could be the same as having 2 to 4 beers. Another major factor is the rate at which you consume the alcohol. The more drinks that you have in a small amount of time the faster and more intoxicated a person will become. Also food taken along with alcohol results in a lower, delayed blood alcohol concentration peak or the point of greatest intoxication. When taking any medication, it can also increase the effects of alcohol. All of these factors contribute to how intoxicated a person can get and how altered a persons behavior can become.
Most states have standards establishing legal limits for alcohol intoxication at 0.08 to 0.10 (grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood). Most individuals report feeling “high” at 0.05 blood alcohol level, while a level of 0.20 is associated with marked intoxication. At the 0.30 level, one may become stuporous or even comatose, and death has been associated with blood alcohol levels of 0.35 and above. In Iowa the legal limit to drive is designated at .10 blood alcohol level. The State of Iowa does not set a legal blood alcohol limit for public intoxication.
In many instances of being intoxicated a person may do or say things that they wouldn’t normally do. And after they do these unusual things the next day they may remember absolutely nothing or only parts of the night. This is because they went through a stage of a black out. This is when a person may seem perfectly normal but really has no clue what is going on. And later on will not be able to recall a thing that had happened during that blackout stage.