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No animal ever invented anything so bad as drunkenness - or so good as drink

Alcohol consumption is interwoven into the cultural and social fabric of a portion of the Indian
population, and into Masonic tradition. It is popularly put about that alcohol consumption is good for
theheart.So,letusexaminethebasis,mythsandfactsaboutalcoholuse,abuse,andalcoholism.

Asinternationallydefined,one standard drink or UNIThas10gramsofalcoholwhichincludes:285ml


ofstrongbeer,375mloflightbeer,100mlofwine,or30mlof80-proofspirit(hardliquororwhiskey,
brandy,rum,vodkaetc).
Drink the first. Sip the second. Skip the third - Knute Rockne
Light drinkingisconsumingupto2standarddrinks(60mlofhardliquor)perday.Itisconsideredtobe
lowriskdrinking.Itisalsorecommendedthatyouhave2alcohol-freedaysperweek.Thus,consuming
50g(fivesmallpegs)ofalcoholper weekisconsideredlightdrinkingPROVIDEDitisdistributedacross5
daysaweek.HOWEVER,drinking50gormorealcohol(5smallpegsormore)inadaywhilenotdrinking
fortherestoftheweekisBINGE DRINKINGandisparticularlyharmful(seebelow).
At light intakes (1-2 standard drinks per day or 10-20g per day for men and 10g per day for women)
alcoholisprotectiveandtheprotectionisstrongestforheartdisease.Thislevelofintakecanreducethe
risk of heart disease by 20-60% and death from all causes by 10-20%, especially above the age of 50
years and in those who are not over-weight / obese. This association has also been found with
diabetics.Asdiabetes isariskfactorforheart disease, thisfindingcouldhelpimprovethelife span,as
wellasqualityoflifeforthosesufferingfromdiabetes.Thebeneficialeffectisprobablyduetotheeffect
of alcohol in raising HDL (good cholesterol), reducing platelet aggregation (thinning blood), reducing
inflammationofcells,andreducinginsulinresistance(antidiabeticeffect).
First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you F. Scott Fitzgerald
Moderate drinking (20 to 40 g, or one to two large , per day) increases the risk of death from heart
failure, hypertension, increased triglyceride levels leading to cardiac infarction (heart attacks), and
infarction ofthe brain (stroke), accidents, and othercauses. Drinking alcohol regularly in excessof the
recommended(1-2standarddrinksperday)canalsoleadtoweightgain,increasedbloodpressureand
triglyceridelevels,whichareallriskfactorsforheartdisease.
One draught above heat makes him a fool, the second mads him, and a third drowns him
Shakespeare in The Twelfth Night.
Heavy or excessive drinking (more than 40 g or two large pegs daily) interferes with daily functioning
andincreases the risk of cancer (breast,colon,andrectumwhicharecommon-andmouth,oesophagus
/foodpipe,larynx/voicebox,andstomachwhicharerarer).Alcoholitselfisnotacarcinogen(cancer
producing),but itenhancesthecarcinogenicprocesswhenit ispresent.Itthusacts asaco-carcinogen
andspeedsupthecancerproduction.Smokingincombinationwithalcoholintakesignificantlyincreases
the risk of cancer. Excessive drinking can also destroy the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and
resultindiabetesinanon-diabeticperson.Ingeneral,thosewhoconsumemorethan90g(fourlarge
pegs) of alcohol daily for more than 5 years are at risk for the development of asymptomatic
cardiomyopathy (weakness of heart muscle). Those who continue to drink such heavy amounts may
becomesymptomaticanddevelopheartfailure.Theyarealsoathighriskforliverdamage.
Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don't drink too much. Then again, don't drink too little -
Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen
Binge drinking (drinking50gor5smallpegsofalcoholormoreatonegowhilenotdrinkingfortherest
of the week) can produce sudden death due to arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) leading to cardiac
arrestorcardiacembolism(clot)duetoreboundplateletaggregation(bloodthickening).
O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with
joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts! - William Shakespeare, in
Othello.
Thereisadistinctdifferencebetweensocial/habitualdrinkingandalcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease
thatiscausedbydeficiencyofchemicalsinthebody.
Weexperiencepleasurethroughstimulationofopiatereceptors(cellsstimulatedbyopium,heroinetc.)
in the brain. The body normally produces a chemical known as endorphin (endo-morphine) that
stimulates the opiate receptors and induces a large amount of dopamine (enjoyment chemical) to be
released with consequent activation of pleasure circuits in the brain. This causes a rush, or intense
feeling of euphoria or pleasure, followed by relaxation and contentment. Endorphins are released
duringexercise,sexualintercourse,intenseemotionalexperiences,transcendentalmeditationetc.
One reason I don't drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time - Lady Astor
Teetotalerswithahighlevelofendorphinreleasedonotneedorcraveanyotheraddictivesubstance.
Theygetenoughpleasureandanxietyreliefduetoadequateinternalstimulationofreceptorsincenters
for producing pleasure and relieving anxiety. They do not need extra stimulation, and can derive
pleasurefromsocial,leisure,andcompetitiveactivities.
In social drinkers (who drink only in company), or habitual drinkers (those who are regular light
drinkers), a small amount of alcohol stimulates the opiate receptors and gives adequate pleasure so
they do not need to drink more alcohol. They can drink one or two pegs small every day or, maybe a
couple of large pegs, in social occasions, or use drugs experimentally, and not become "hooked"
(dependant)onalcoholordrugs.
One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough - James Thurber
Alcoholismisadisease.Analcoholicorpersonpronetoalcoholismhasagenetic(inherited)deficiency
of opiate receptors in centers for producing pleasure and relieving anxiety in the brain. Therefore he
does not experience pleasure with social, leisure, and competitive activities which would produce
endorphinsinanon-alcoholic.Whenhebeginstotakealcoholhebeginstoexperiencealittlepleasure.
Inordertoexperiencemorepleasurehehastokeeptakingmorealcohol.Whenhereducesthedoseof
alcohol he stops feeling pleasure and requires taking more alcohol. Such excessive drinking alters the
levelsoftheneurotransmittersinthebrain,causingthepersontocravealcoholinordertorestoregood
feelings or to avoid negative feelings, to become obsessed with alcohol, and to be unable to control
howmuchhedrinks.
The warning signs of alcoholism are: drinking in order to relax, or forget; gulping down each drink
quickly;beginningtolose interestinfamilyinpreference toalcohol;constantlythinkingabout alcohol;
drinking in the daytime when he should be working; tremors, specially of hands, when the person is
unable to get a drink; aggressive or extravagant behaviour with a few drinks; developing relationships
MAINLYwithotherswhodrinketc;
Alcoholicsalsofindexcusetodrinkalcohol.As Jack Handey put it,Sometimes when I reflect back on all
the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and
all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams
would be shattered. Then I say to myself, it is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true
than be selfish and worry about my liver.

One drink, one drunk Alcoholics Anonymous


First you take a drink. Then the drink takes you F. Scott Fitzgerald.

ApersonwithalcoholicgeneswhoNEVERexperimentswithalcoholmaygothroughlifeasateetotaler.
This is why some alcoholics may not have a parent who drinks. But, the moment the person with an
alcoholic gene tastes alcohol, he is fated to become an alcoholic. The disease is propagated by friends
who drink regularly (who may be social drinkers), the glamour and hype about alcohol consumption
(throughliterature,advertisingandthemedia),highlevelsofstress,anxietyoremotionalpain,andlow
self-esteemordepression.Itisalsoperpetuatedbypopularmythssuchas:
Myth: Only those who drink alone are alcoholics.
FACT: Althoughoneofthefirstsignsofalcoholismisdrinkingalone,eventhosewhoonlydrinkinsocial
situationscanbeaddictedtoalcohol.Likewise,habitualdrinkerscandrinkacoupleofsmallpegsevery
daywithoutbeingalcoholic.

MYTH: Beer or wine is less intoxicating than other types of alcoholic beverage and is not addicting.
FACT: Onemugofbeer,oneglassofwineoronesmallpegofhardliquorareallequallyintoxicatingand
addictive.Theyallcontainthesameamountofalcohol.

MYTH: Eating a big meal before you drink will keep you sober.
FACT: Drinking on a full stomach will only delay the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, not
preventit.Eatingbeforeyoudrinkisnotadefenseagainstgettingdrunkyougetdrunklater.

MYTH: Everyone reacts to alcohol in the same way.


FACT: Many factors, the most important being genetics, affect a person's reaction to alcohol such as
body weight, metabolism, gender, body chemistry, and many others. Thus, while one person may not
loseself-controlwiththreelargepegs,anothermaybecomedrunkwithjustonelargepeg.

Myth: You can drive as well after a few drinks, if you dont feel drunk.
FACT:Althoughalcoholmayhelpyourelax,itsoveralleffectscancauseasubstantialreductionofyour
ability to think and react. This impairs, not improves, your ability to drive. Although you may not feel
theeffectsofalcoholasquicklyasothers,yourabilitytothinkandreactwillstillbecompromised.The
only true way to tell whether or not you are sober enough to drive is through measuring your blood
alcoholcontent.

Myth: Alcohol increases your libido and sexual prowess.


FACT: Ovid wrote Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion. Alcohol reduces
inhibitionwhichmaybepreventingyoufrommakingamovewhichleadstosexorholdingyourdesire
back.Itcausesbloodvesselstowidenandpromotesaquickerflowofbloodintothepenisandproduces
a quick erection. But the blood also flows quickly back out resulting in quick loss of the erection. As
Shakespeareputitsopoeticallyalcohol makes the body lust but the ardor weak.

MYTH: Cold Showers, fresh air or hot coffee reverses the effect of alcohol and helps a person to sober
up whenever he wants.
FACT: Only time will remove alcohol from the system. It takes the body approximately one hour to
eliminatethealcoholinonestandarddrink.Anoldsayinggoes,"give a drunk a cup of coffee and all you
have is a wide-awake, dangerous drunk.

Myth:Alcohol keeps you warm in a cold place.


FACT:Althoughalcoholcausesawarmingsensationwhenconsumed,itactuallymakesthebodycolder.
The feeling of warmth is a result of blood rushing to the surface of the skin. But this also makes the
bloodcoolfasterwhenthebloodcomesincontactwiththecoldskin.Youcandieofhypothermiaifyou
arenotadequatelyprotectedanddrinkalcoholinverylowenvironmentaltemperature.

Myth: Wine is beneficial and so drinking large quantities of wine keeps you healthy and prevents
heart disease:
FACT: Thebeneficialeffectofwinediffersaccordingtothedietarypattern.Specificfoodpatterns(such
as a Mediterranean diet moderate quantity of fish, fruits, vegetables, cereal, olive oil, and wine
consumed over an extended period of time) influence the effect of wine and produce the beneficial
effect.Winealonehasnotbeenproventohaveabeneficialeffect.

To sum up:
Alcohol is a double-edged sword. At light intakes (1-2 standard drinks per day) it protects against
coronaryheartdiseaseandstroke.Atintakesofmorethan2smallpegsdaily,ithasadverseeffectson
health.Heavydrinking(morethan2largepegsdaily)increasestheriskofcancer,diabetes,heartfailure,
andliverdamage.

Binge drinking over the weekend, is not advisable as this can dramatically increase the risk of sudden
death.
Ifdrinkingisinterferingwithyourwork,you'reprobablyaheavydrinker.Ifworkisinterferingwithyour
drinking,you'reprobablyanalcoholic.Alcoholismdefinitelycauseseriousdamagetohealthandreduces
lifespan.
If you don't normally drink alcohol, you don't need to, even if you have heart disease or conditions
whichincreaseyourriskofdevelopingheartdisease.Thisisbecausebenefitsofalcoholcanbeobtained
in other ways through exercise, plant foods, grape products, enjoyable competitive, social, and leisure
activities,Mediterraneantypedietwithoutalcohol,andahostofotherways.