The most often asked three questions about alcohol: How much can you drink and still drive safely? How much can you drink and not hurt yourself? Can you drink alcohol with these tablets?
Unfortunately, the answers are not that simple.
Dozens of complex graphs have been devised to guide people on how much they can drink and still be under the magic .08 or 0.5 limit. None of these can ever be totally accurate because it depends on many different factors that vary from one person to the next.
When you swallow alcohol, it is absorbed very rapidly from the stomach, and commences its actions on the brain and other organs. This of course is one of the great attractions of alcohol, it can make you very happy very quickly.
The rate at which alcohol is removed from the body is constant though, and nothing can increase this rate, thus once you have alcohol in your blood stream, it will remain there until the appropriate period of time has passed, no matter what tricks you try to sober yourself up quickly.
The level of alcohol in your bloodstream also depends on your body weight. In smaller people there is less body for the alcohol to be spread around, and so the levels tend to be higher.
Fat does not help dilute alcohol very much, so a very overweight person may have a much higher blood-alcohol level than a person of the same weight who is all muscle and no fat.
Men can usually drink three standard drinks in one hour to reach .05, and then one standard drink per hour thereafter to stay at that level. These figures are about 25 percent lower for women. A standard drink is 285 ml of beer, 120 ml of wine, 60 ml of port or sherry and 30 ml of any spirit.
Wives often ask whether or not their husbands are alcoholics. The definitions of alcoholism vary, but if the person drinks alone, tries to hide his drinking habits from others, has his work or social life interrupted because of drink, crave alcohol when it is not available or seems to tolerate the effects of alcohol unusually well, then that person is probably an alcoholic.
Anyone who averages more than seven standard drinks a day is risking damage to his or her body. The liver and brain are the organs most seriously affected, and once damaged, the damage is permanent.
Cirrhosis, or hardening of the liver, can cause a steady deterioration in health and lead eventually to death. Brain damage can cause depression, irrational behavior and insanity. There is no effective treatment for either condition. Alcohol can damage the stomach, make people to lose interest in food (this means that people do not feel hungry) and impair the development of the fetus in a pregnant woman.
Alcoholism is a major social and medical problem, but the best cure is prevention. Unfortunately, it is difficult to force people to accept treatment for this disease, because they often deny its existence. In extreme cases they can be put in an institution to dry out.
If you are worried about this distressing problem, please see your doctor to discuss the matter. He can tell by examination and blood tests whether the patient is an alcoholic, and recommend a course of treatment that often involves hospitalization, psychiatrists, social workers, physicians, and psychologists in a multi-pronged attack on the disease. Cure is difficult, but possible, with time and adequate support.
The final question as to whether alcohol can be taken with medication cannot be answered here. It depends entirely on the type of drug involved, but as alcohol can seriously affect the uptake and effectiveness of many drugs, you should not drink while on any medication unless you check with your doctor first.