Alcohol has been used for thousands of years as a social drink. But the excessive use of alcohol can lead to health, social and legal problems. We receive conflicting messages about alcohol. Is it cool to drink alcohol? Is it healthy? Or is it bad for us? We need to make an educated decision on whether we should drink alcohol, and how much, and how often, before we use it.

There’s a mistake some people have in their minds that they think they are invincible with alcohol. They think they can drink whatever they want without having any problems. Anybody can have problems with alcohol and anybody can become addicted to alcohol. But there are people who have more chance of getting addicted, because of their background or their genetics, and there’s also prove that alcohol causes brain damage.

This is an image of a person who does not drink alcohol and this is an image of someone who’s been drinking alcohol for a long time. They’re both the same age.

There are three forms of using alcohol. There’s normal use, there is abuse, and there’s alcoholism. I would be hoping that everybody would be using alcohol normally or not drinking alcohol at all. That’s two types of being normal and healthy. Another type of people would be abusing alcohol, what does that mean? Alcohol abuse means that you use it when you’re not supposed to, like when you are younger than 18 years of age, or when you are pregnant, or when you are not supposed to be drinking while for example driving or working. So, alcohol abuse is using alcohol in the wrong situations.

Alcoholism, on the other hand, means that you are drinking alcohol all the time and not able to stop drinking alcohol, and you have problems when you are not drinking. Health problems and behavioral problems. Alcoholism is a disease. It does not mean that the person is weak or a bad person. It’s a disease and we consider an alcoholic as a patient. So, people under the influence of alcohol are considered criminal if they do a crime, but alcoholics are considered also as patients and need treatment.

People have different concentrations in their blood when they drink alcohol, and the blood alcohol concentration is a value that we can measure. We can measure it in the breath of the people – that’s when you get tested for example in the street by the traffic police sometimes. But there are differences between people in their ability to have the alcohol concentration in their blood, even if they’ve had the same amount of alcohol. The food that you’ve had affects your blood alcohol concentration, so if you’ve been drinking after having eaten something, especially fatty foods, you will slow down the absorption of alcohol into your blood. So, eating before drinking might help you a bit lower the effect of alcohol on your body. But this does not mean that it will diminish that, make it less. No, it will just slow it down. But all of a sudden it might come back and give you a lot of effect from a big amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking. So be careful with that. Also your weight makes a difference. So, a bigger person would have less trouble with more amounts of alcohol than as smaller person. Also women get drunk faster – with the same amount of alcohol – than men, so, the gender makes a difference.

You also need to know that “a drink” does not mean a certain amount of the drink, but it’s the percentage of alcohol that we need to address. So, you could be drinking for example this drink, and it says here that it’s 4% vol. So, we’re talking about 4cc of alcohol every 100cc of the drink. While here, this drink, is 40% vol., so almost half of the 100cc, so you’re drinking almost 40cc of alcohol from each 100cc of this drink. This means that you are not supposed to consider this amount always as this amount, because this amount here from a highly concentrated drink of alcohol might be more harmful to you than this one. So be very careful with the percentage of alcohol in drinks.

Also in some drinks they add nice taste or fruit juices to the drinks, so the young people are fooled by the delicious taste and they keep drinking and drinking and not noticing how much they’ve had. So be very careful with slowing down the process of the effect of alcohol on your body by eating while drinking but also drinking very slowly.

The biological process of taking into your body and making use of it and then getting rid of it goes into three steps. There is absorption of alcohol, which happens in the stomach, partly, and in the small intestines, and then the alcohol goes to the liver. And the liver is responsible for changing it into other forms. So, it goes into the liver and the ethanol changes into CO2 and water, so we breathe it out and a small part of it stays in our body to affect our organs especially our brain. And then the elimination: then it goes out via our lungs, we breathe it out, and the rest of it we urinate it, because it’s water soluble.

The problem happens when you are drinking too much, much faster than your liver’s ability to break down the alcohol. And in this case you get intoxicated and drunk and you have behavioral effects. The behavioral effects from alcohol we will discuss in the next video.

I wish you the best of health!

Alyaa Gad