Drug and Alcohol - Sobriety

Understanding EtOH: The Dangers of Ethanol Alcohol Abuse

What is EtOH? It's the scientific name for ethanol alcohol: beer, wine, and so on. Learn more about EtOH abuse in our blog!

What is EtOH? Uncover the Dangers of Ethanol Alcohol Abuse

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 17, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Heard about the newest drug on the street? It's called EtOH.

Actually, EtOH is one of the oldest drugs there is. You've probably tried it.

EtOH is a medical abbreviation for ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Alcohol abuse, also known as alcohol use disorder and/or alcoholism, is a pattern of excessive drinking that can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems. Ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol, is the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits.

By the Numbers:

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 14.5 million people aged 12 and older (5.3 percent of this age group) had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). With an estimated 95,000 deaths annually from alcohol-related causes, alcohol is the third most common preventable cause of death in the United States.

Alcohol abuse can take many forms, including binge drinking (drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period), drinking to intoxication, and drinking regularly or daily in large quantities. Ethyl alcohol abuse can lead to various negative consequences, such as health problems, impaired judgment and coordination, relationship problems, work or school issues, financial difficulties, legal troubles, and even death.

What is EtOH?

EtOH is the medical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol (ethanol), which is more commonly known as alcohol. It's the kind of alcohol people drink. The chemical compound ethanol is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive odor and a mildly sweet flavor. It's present in alcoholic drinks like beer, wine, and spirits. It's also used as a fuel, a solvent, and an ingredient in personal care and home goods.

Ethanol has the chemical formula C2H5OH, indicating that it contains two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. It is a simple molecule that dissolves quickly in polar solvents like water. The fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast or other microbes results in the production of ethanol. 

The amount of ethanol in alcoholic beverages is commonly stated as a percentage of volume or weight. For instance, a standard beer may contain between 4 and 5 percent alcohol by volume, whereas a glass of wine may have between 10 and 14 percent. Spirits with an alcohol content of 40% or more include whisky and vodka.

In order to increase combustion efficiency and lower emissions, ethanol is also utilized as a fuel, most notably as a component of gasoline. In addition, many businesses, including those that produce pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care items, also employ it as a solvent. 

While ethyl alcohol is generally safe to consume in moderation, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to various health problems, including:

In addition, it can be dangerous to handle or ingest pure or concentrated forms of ethyl alcohol, as it can cause irritation and damage to the skin, eyes, and internal organs.

Here's a quick guide to EtOH and its effects:

What is EtOH?
What is EtOH Made From?
How Does EtOH Work?
Is EtOH Addictive?
What are the Consequences of EtOH Abuse?
Is EtOH Abuse Treatable?
Evidence-Based Care for EtOH Addiction

How Does EtOH Work?

When ethyl alcohol is consumed, it affects the brain by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help to regulate various functions in the brain. Ethyl alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down brain activity and can cause feelings of relaxation and reduced inhibitions. 

When ethyl alcohol is consumed, it affects the brain in several ways. EtOH works by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity. GABA can inhibit the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain, leading to a calming effect. Ethyl alcohol binds to GABA receptors, causing more GABA to be released, which can lead to feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety. 

The consumption of ethyl alcohol can cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. When ethyl alcohol is consumed, the brain's reward system is activated, causing feelings of happiness and euphoria. This can lead to a desire to consume more alcohol to continue experiencing those pleasurable effects. 

Ethanol can impact serotonin levels in the brain, affecting mood and behavior. Serotonin is involved in mood, hunger, and sleep regulation. Serotonin levels in the brain can rise due to alcohol use, resulting in positive emotions. However, persistent alcohol misuse can cause serotonin levels to drop, exacerbating mood disorders like depression. 

EtOH can also affect the levels of glutamate in the brain, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. Alcohol can decrease glutamate activity, leading to memory impairment and difficulty learning new information. 

Intake of ethyl alcohol can also affect the levels of norepinephrine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the "fight or flight" response. Alcohol can increase norepinephrine levels, leading to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of anxiety or stress. 

Thus, the consumption of ethyl alcohol can affect the brain by slowing down brain activity, enhancing the activity of GABA, increasing dopamine and serotonin release, decreasing glutamate activity, and affecting norepinephrine levels. Chronic alcohol abuse can also lead to long-term changes in the brain, leading to addiction and other negative consequences. 

EtOH: What is Blood Alcohol Content?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is how alcohol's effects on the body are measured. Here's an example: a BAC of .10 is one part of alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood.

BAC varies due to a person's individual weight, gender, physiology, and more. Here's a rough example of the effects BAC has on a person's behaviors and abilities:

0 to 0.03 BAC

Very few effects.

0.04 to 0.07 BAC

Warm feelings and more intense emotions. Reaction time is decreased along with aperson's judgment.

0.08 BAC

This is the threshold for drunkenness in most US states. Driving with this BAC level or higher will earn you a DUI.

0.09 to 0.12

Noticeable speech difficulties. Motor functions are strongly affected; at higher levels in this range thinking and reaction times are severely impacted.

At higher levels, a person is likely to need medical attention. BAC levels above 0.30 can be fatal.

What are the Reasons Behind EtOH (Ethanol) Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse, commonly known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic condition defined by excessive alcohol consumption despite its damaging effects on a person's health, relationships, and day-to-day functioning. Alcohol abuse accounts for a sizable amount of the world's disease and injury burden and is the most frequently abused substance.

Here are some of the reasons for the rise in alcohol abuse:

  • Easy availability: Alcohol is legal and widely available in most parts of the world. Its easy availability, combined with the social acceptance of alcohol use in many cultures, can make recognizing when they have a problem challenging.

  • Stress: Modern lifestyles are often characterized by high-stress levels due to various factors such as job pressures, financial instability, family issues, etc. Alcohol can be seen as a way to cope with stress or escape from the realities of life.

  • Peer pressure: Peer pressure can be a significant factor in initiating and continuing alcohol use. Social norms can make alcohol use seem necessary for socializing, and people may feel compelled to drink to fit in or appear cool.

  • Mental health issues: People with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may use alcohol to self-medicate. Alcohol can initially provide a sense of relaxation or temporary relief from the symptoms of trauma, but it can worsen mental health issues over time.

  • Advertising: Alcohol advertising, particularly those targeting young people, can effectively promote the idea that alcohol is necessary for socialization or relaxation.

  • Genetics: Genetics plays a role in the development of alcoholism. Children of alcoholic parents are at higher risk of developing alcohol use disorders than those without a family history.

  • Trauma: Trauma, particularly in childhood, can increase the risk of alcohol abuse. Trauma can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence or substance abuse.

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What are the Consequences of EtOH Abuse?

Alcohol addiction, also known as ethanol (EtOH) addiction or alcoholism, is a chronic disorder that can have serious and long-lasting implications on a person's physical and mental health as well as their social and economic well-being. 

Some of the major impacts of EtOH addiction are listed below:

Tolerance and withdrawal: Individuals with EtOH addiction will experience tolerance, meaning they need more alcohol to achieve the same effect, and withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and include tremors, seizures, and hallucinations

  • Liver disease: Addiction to EtOH can cause liver conditions like cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and liver cancer. Long-term dependence on EtOH can harm the liver irreparably, resulting in liver failure and the requirement for a liver transplant

  • Cardiovascular disease: Addiction can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, high blood pressure, and stroke. Long-term EtOH addiction can lead to heart muscle damage, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure

  • Cancer: Cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, breast, and intestinal lining are among the many types of cancer that are made more likely by EtOH addiction

  • Mental health disorders: Addiction to ethyl alcohol can increase the risk of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, it may exacerbate the signs of pre-existing mental health conditions.

  • Neurological disorders: EtOH addiction can cause neurological disorders, including memory loss, dementia, and neuropathy (nerve damage). Long-term EtOH addiction can also cause permanent brain damage.

  • Accidents and injuries: EtOH addiction can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, including falls, car accidents, and other types of trauma. It can also increase the risk of suicide.

  • Social and economic consequences: It can impact a person's social and economic well-being. It can lead to job loss, financial problems, relationship issues, and legal problems such as driving under the influence (DUI) or other criminal charges.

  • Stigma: People with EtOH addiction may feel uncomfortable or ashamed to seek help because it is still stigmatized in many communities. This may result in poor or delayed therapy, only worsening the situation.

  • Relapse: Relapse is likely to occur since EtOH addiction is a chronic condition. It can be tough to maintain sobriety and might be brought on by stress, peer pressure, or other circumstances. 

Thus, EtOH addiction can have detrimental and long-lasting effects on one's physical and mental health and social, economic, and interpersonal interactions. 

How to Avoid Ethanol Alcohol (EtOH) Abuse

Although avoiding alcohol abuse can be difficult, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing EtOH abuse. Here are some tips:

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost mood, and improve overall well-being. Try taking up a new exercise routine or joining a sports club to get active and meet new people.

  • Set limits: Determine how much alcohol you can consume safely and stick to that limit.

  • Avoid peer pressure: If you feel uncomfortable with the amount of alcohol others are drinking or are being pressured to drink more than you want to, be firm in your decision to stick to your limits.

  • Mindfulness practices: Practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

  • Creative pursuits: Engaging in creative activities like painting, drawing, writing, or playing music can help you channel your emotions and healthily express yourself.

  • Volunteer work: Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment and connect you with your community. Look for opportunities to volunteer at local organizations or events.

  • Socializing with friends and family: Spending time with loved ones can provide connection and support and help reduce stress and anxiety. 

  • Stay informed: Educate yourself about the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction. In addition, stay knowledgeable about the effects of alcohol on your health, both physically and mentally. 

The risk of becoming addicted to alcohol can be reduced by adhering to these guidelines, which would help in leading a happier, more fulfilling life.

Recovery From EtOH Alcohol Addiction

Ethyl alcohol (EtOH) addiction withdrawal and rehabilitation are difficult and mentally and physically exhausting processes. 

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can vary from mild to severe, including tremors, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures or delirium tremens (DTs), a life-threatening condition that can cause confusion, agitation, and hallucinations.

Recovery from EtOH addiction is a lifelong process that involves ongoing addiction management. It typically involves different stages, including treatment, maintenance, and relapse prevention.

  • Seek professional help: It is essential to seek professional help for alcoholism when recovering from EtOH abuse. A healthcare professional can help with detoxification and medication management and provide support throughout the recovery process.

  • Attend support groups: Support groups can provide peer support and help individuals build a network of people who understand what they are going through.

  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms: Healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help individuals manage stress and triggers that may lead to EtOH abuse.

  • Avoid triggers: Avoiding triggers, such as certain people, places, or activities, can help individuals maintain sobriety.

  • Develop a relapse prevention plan: Developing a relapse prevention plan with a healthcare professional can help individuals identify potential triggers and develop strategies to avoid or cope with them.

  • Address underlying mental health issues: Addressing underlying mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, can help individuals manage their EtOH abuse and prevent relapse.

  • Repair relationships: EtOH abuse can damage personal relationships, and it is essential to work on repairing these relationships as part of the recovery process.

  • Practice self-care: Practicing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in joyful activities, can help individuals maintain sobriety and improve their overall well-being. 

Recovery from EtOH abuse is a challenging but achievable process. Getting professional assistance and establishing a support network is crucial to aid in the healing process. In addition, people can enhance their general quality of life with the proper care and assistance.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

EtOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethanol, the type of alcohol people drink. EtOH is a highly-addictive drug. Although EtOH can cause serious damage to a person's life, addiction to EtOH is treatable.

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Do you have more questions about EtOH abuse? Reach out.

Struggling With EtOH (Ethanol Alcohol) Abuse? You're Not Alone. The Edge Treatment Center Can Help

Recovery from alcohol abuse is a journey. You're not in your fight against EtOH abuse alone.

The Edge Treatment Center focuses on the treatment of alcohol abuse by providing comprehensive therapies aimed at your unique needs. Our programs are highly personalized and tailored to meet your exact needs.

We'll start by helping you find the right drug detox center for your needs. It's the best way to begin your successful journey away from EtOH abuse. When you transition to our outpatient drug rehab, we'll continue your hard work by giving you the tools you need to avoid relapse and leave EtOH abuse behind forever.

Something to keep in mind: EtOH abuse can be fatal if left untreated. Don't wait and let a drinking problem become worse. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more about our alcohol addiction programs and give yourself the life you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions About EtOH Abuse

How Addictive is EtOH (Ethanol)?

EtOH (ethanol) is highly addictive and can lead to dependency. It is one of the most widely abused substances in the world, due to its availability and low cost. People who become addicted to EtOH experience a wide range of physical, mental, and social problems that can significantly impair their lives.

Prolonged abuse can lead to serious health problems such as liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It can also increase the risk of accidents due to impaired judgment and coordination.

The addiction potential of EtOH is strong because it affects the behavior-regulating parts of the brain. The more a person drinks, the more their brain becomes used to having alcohol present, leading to cravings for higher amounts of alcohol. Over time, a person’s body builds up a tolerance to EtOH and it takes more and more to maintain the same level of intoxication.

The withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person suddenly stops consuming alcohol can be severe and should only be addressed with professional medical help.

Is Alcoholism Treatable?

Fortunately, alcoholism is a treatable disorder. With the help of professional healthcare providers and support groups, people can learn how to manage their addiction and live healthier, happier lives. Treatment typically involves counseling, medication, lifestyle changes, and other interventions that aim to reduce cravings and help the person cope with withdrawal symptoms. It’s important for individuals struggling with EtOH abuse to remember that there is help available and recovery is possible.

Are There Risk Factors for EtOH Addiction?

There are several factors that may increase the risk of EtOH addiction. These include a family history of alcoholism, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, and using other substances in addition to alcohol. It’s also important to be aware of certain social situations where drinking is more likely, such as parties and bars.

Additionally, people who begin drinking at an early age may be more likely to become dependent on alcohol.

How Do I Know if I Need Treatment for Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that requires professional treatment. If you’re drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol on a regular basis and feeling an increasing need for it in your life, you may be suffering from alcoholism. Other signs of alcoholism include:

• Drink every day or multiple times per day

• Feel withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink

• Feel an increased tolerance, meaning you need more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect

• Experience blackouts or have trouble remembering how much you had to drink

• Have difficulty controlling your drinking habits even when you want to stop

• Neglect activities that were important to you before drinking alcohol became a priority

• Experience physical and psychological issues due to drinking, such as abdominal pain, insomnia, and depression

• Drink even when it’s dangerous to do so, such as driving or operating machinery

• Put yourself or others in danger because of your drinking

How Long Does Alcohol Addiction Treatment Last?

The length of treatment for alcoholism varies from person to person, depending on the severity of their addiction, their physiology, the length of time they've been drinking, and more. Some people may need a few weeks or months of intensive treatment while others may require more long-term care.

The goals of treatment are typically to reduce excessive drinking and manage any underlying psychological or medical issues that may be contributing to the problem.

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