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Alcohol (drug)

Alcohol as a Substance: – Alcohol is found in fermented beverages like beer, wine, and distilled spirits. – Alcoholic beverages contain various types of psychoactive […]

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Alcohol as a Substance:
– Alcohol is found in fermented beverages like beer, wine, and distilled spirits.
– Alcoholic beverages contain various types of psychoactive alcohols categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary.
– Some alcoholic beverages may contain toxic alcohols like methanol and isopropyl alcohol.
– Alcohol is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, neurotoxin, and birth defect agent.
– Alcohol is used for recreational purposes, self-medication, and in alcohol-related crimes.
– Ethanol is used to treat methanol or ethylene glycol toxicity when fomepizole is unavailable.
– Ethanol competes with other alcohols for the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, reducing toxic effects.
– Ethanol lessens the metabolism of toxic aldehyde and carboxylic acid derivatives.
– Chronic excessive alcohol use can lead to fatty liver and alcoholic liver disease.
– Alcohol is directly processed in the liver to acetyl CoA, contributing to liver inflammation.

Alcohol and Health Effects:
– Excessive alcohol use is associated with various short-term and long-term adverse health effects.
– Alcohol affects the brain by increasing the effects of γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and impacting various neurotransmitter systems.
– Alcohol consumption increases the risk of unprotected sex, sexually transmitted infections, and addiction.
– Alcohol contributes to empty calories and potentiates the insulin response to glucose, promoting fat storage.
– Alcohol has short-term and long-term adverse effects on memory, sleep, and psychotic disorders.
– Alcohol is linked to addiction, dependence, withdrawal, and reduced lifespan.
– Alcohol consumption is associated with various types of cancer, liver damage, cardiovascular effects, and cognitive impairment.

Alcohol and Criminal Activities:
– Alcohol is used by criminals in alcohol-facilitated crimes like sexual assaults and robberies.
– Consumption of alcohol prior to visiting sex workers is common among some individuals.
– Female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries have high rates of harmful alcohol use.
– Alcohol is sometimes used by sex workers to cope with stress.
– Alcohol is associated with increased risk of involuntary commitments for pregnant women abusing alcohol and fetal alcohol syndrome risks.

Alcohol in Recreational and Spiritual Contexts:
– Alcohol affects the brain by increasing dopamine and endogenous opioids in the brain’s reward pathways.
– Moderate alcohol consumption is part of spiritual practices in various religions and esoteric rituals.
– Examples include Hindu tantra sect Aghori, Sufi Bektashi Order ceremonies, Japanese religion Shinto, Vodou faith of Haiti, Thelema, and Vajrayana Buddhism.
– Some individuals self-medicate with alcohol for therapeutic purposes, although excessive use can worsen anxiety or depression symptoms.
– Alcohol is not recommended as a sleep aid, and unscientific beliefs like ‘hair of the dog’ for hangovers are ineffective.

Alcohol and Medical Applications:
– Ethanol is used in medical settings to counteract the toxic effects of other alcohols.
– Ethanol is used to treat methanol or ethylene glycol toxicity when fomepizole is unavailable.
– Ethanol helps prevent glycols from crystallizing in the kidneys.
– Ethanol is contraindicated in pregnancy due to fetal alcohol syndrome risks.
– Ethanol is classified as a teratogen known to cause birth defects and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Alcohol (drug) (Wikipedia)

Alcohol, sometimes referred to by the chemical name ethanol, is a depressant drug found in fermented beverages such as beer, wine, and distilled spirit -- in particular, rectified spirit. Ethanol is colloquially refereed to as "alcohol" because it is the most prevalent alcohol in alcoholic beverages, but technically all alcoholic beverages contain several types of psychoactive alcohols, that are categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary; Primary alcohols are oxidized to aldehydes, secondary alcohols undergo oxidation to form ketones, while tertiary alcohols are generally resistant to oxidation; Ethanol is a primary alcohol that has unpleasant actions in the body, many of which are mediated by its toxic metabolite acetaldehyde. Less prevalent alcohols found in alcoholic beverages, are secondary, and tertiary alcohols. For example, the tertiary alcohol 2M2B which is up to 50 times more potent than ethanol and found in trace quantities in alcoholic beverages, has been synthesized and used as a designer drug. Alcoholic beverages are sometimes laced with toxic alcohols, such as methanol (the simplest alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol. A mild, brief exposure to isopropyl alcohol (which is only moderately more toxic than ethanol) is unlikely to cause any serious harm, but many methanol poisoning incidents have occurred through history, since methanol is lethal even in small quantities, as little as 10–15 milliliters (2–3 teaspoons). Ethanol is used to treat methanol and ethylene glycol toxicity.

Skeletal formula of ethanol
Ball-and-stick model of ethanol Space-filling model of ethanol
Clinical data
Other namesAbsolute alcohol; Alcohol (USPTooltip United States Pharmacopeia); Cologne spirit; Drinking alcohol; Ethanol (JANTooltip Japanese Accepted Name); Ethylic alcohol; EtOH; Ethyl alcohol; Ethyl hydrate; Ethyl hydroxide; Ethylol; Grain alcohol; Hydroxyethane; Methylcarbinol
  • X (Contraindicated in pregnancy)
Physical: Very High Psychological: Moderate
Moderate (10–15%)
Routes of
Common: Oral
Uncommon: suppository, inhalation, ocular, insufflation, injection
Drug classAnalgesic; Anxiolytic; Depressant; Euphoriant; GABAA receptor positive modulators; Sedative
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Protein bindingWeakly or not at all
MetabolismLiver (90%):
Alcohol dehydrogenase
MetabolitesAcetaldehyde; Acetic acid; Acetyl-CoA; Carbon dioxide; Ethyl glucuronide; Ethyl sulfate; Water
Onset of actionPeak concentrations:
• Range: 30–90 minutes
• Mean: 45–60 minutes
Fasting: 30 minutes
Elimination half-lifeConstant-rate elimination at typical concentrations:
• Range: 10–34 mg/dL/hour
• Mean (men): 15 mg/dL/hour
• Mean (women): 18 mg/dL/hr
At very high concentrations (t1/2): 4.0–4.5 hours
Duration of action6–16 hours (amount of time that levels are detectable)
Excretion• Major: metabolism (into carbon dioxide and water)
• Minor: urine, breath, sweat (5–10%)
  • ethanol
CAS Number
PubChem CID
PDB ligand
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass46.069 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
Density0.7893 g/cm3 (at 20 °C)
Melting point−114.14 ± 0.03 °C (−173.45 ± 0.05 °F)
Boiling point78.24 ± 0.09 °C (172.83 ± 0.16 °F)
Solubility in waterMiscible mg/mL (20 °C)
  • CCO
  • InChI=1S/C2H6O/c1-2-3/h3H,2H2,1H3

Ethanol is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, neurotoxin, and birth defect agent. The World Health Organization published a statement in The Lancet Public Health in April 2023 that "there is no safe amount that does not affect health". A DrugScience 2010 study rated alcohol the most harmful drug overall, and the only drug more harmful to others than to the users themselves.

Alcohol serves various purposes, for example, it is one of the oldest and most commonly consumed recreational drugs, it is used for self-medication, and it is frequently involved in alcohol-related crimes such as drunk driving, public intoxication, and underage drinking. Some esoteric religions and schools incorporate the use of alcohol for spiritual purposes. However, alcohol has a variety of short-term and long-term adverse effects on health. Short-term effects from moderate consumption include happiness and euphoria, decreased anxiety, decreased social inhibition, sedation, impairment of cognitive, memory, motor, and sensory function, while binge drinking may result in generalized impairment of neurocognitive function, dizziness, analgesia, nausea, vomiting, hangover-like symptoms, blackout, and generalized depression of central nervous system (CNS) function. In high amounts, alcohol may cause alcohol intoxication characterized by loss of consciousness or, in severe cases, death; In 2016, 3.0 million deaths was responsible for excessive alcohol use worldwide. Long-term effects are considered to be a major global public health issue and includes alcoholism, abuse, withdrawal, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), liver disease, hepatitis, cardiovascular disease such as cardiomyopathy, polyneuropathy, dementia, hallucinosis, brain damage, and cancers such as breast cancer. The adverse effects of alcohol on health are most important when it is used in excessive quantities or with heavy frequency. However, some of them, such as increased risk of certain cancers, may occur even with light or moderate alcohol consumption.

Alcohol works in the brain primarily by increasing the effects of γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain; by facilitating GABA's actions, alcohol suppresses the activity of the CNS. The substance also directly affects a number of other neurotransmitter systems including those of glutamate, glycine, acetylcholine, and serotonin. The pleasurable effects of alcohol ingestion are the result of increased levels of dopamine and endogenous opioids in the reward pathways of the brain.

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