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Alcohol

[Alcohol Abuse]

BASIC FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is the oldest and most widely used drug in the world. Nearly half of all Americans over the age of 12 are consumers of alcohol. Most people don’t have a problem with alcoholism but there are an estimated 10 to 15 million alcoholics or problem drinkers in the United States, with more than 100,000 deaths each year attributed to alcohol. What most people don’t realize is that among the nation’s alcoholics and problem drinkers are as many as 4.5 million adolescents.

Alcohol is the name to given a variety of related compounds; the drinkable form is ethanol, or ethyl alcohol. It is a powerful, addictive, central nervous system depressant produced by the action of yeast cells on carbohydrates in fruits and grains. A liquid that is taken orally, alcohol is often consumed in large quantities. Surveys of adolescent and young adult drinkers indicate that they are particularly likely to drink heavily with the intention of getting drunk—often every time they drink.

There are three basic types of alcoholic drinks.

Beer is made from fermented grains and has an alcohol content of three to six percent.

Wine is made from fermented fruits and has an alcohol content of 11 to 14 percent. Some wine drinks, such as wine coolers, have fruit juice and sugar added, lowering alcohol content to between four and seven percent.

Fortified wines, such as port, have alcohol added, bringing alcohol content to between 18 and 20 percent.

Liquor is made by distilling a fermented product to yield a drink that usually contains 40 to 50 percent alcohol. The alcohol content in liquor is sometimes indicated by degrees of proof, which in the United States is a figure twice as high as the percentage. Thus, 80-proof liquor is 40 percent alcohol.

A 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol and, therefore, have an equal effect on the drinker. All three forms of alcohol have the same potential for intoxication and addiction.

How Does it Affect You?

When a person consumes alcohol, the drug acts on nerve cells deep in the brain. Alcohol initially serves as a stimulant, then induces feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety.

Consumption of two or three drinks in an hour can impair judgment, lower inhibitions, and induce mild euphoria. Five drinks consumed in two hours may raise the blood alcohol level to 0.10 percent, high enough to be considered legally intoxicated in every state. Once a drinker stops drinking, his or her blood alcohol level decreases by about 0.01 percent per hour.

Signs and symptoms

alcohol use and intoxication:

  • Smell of alcohol on breath

  • Irritability

  • Euphoria

  • Loss of physical coordination

  • Inappropriate or violent behavior

  • Loss of balance

  • Unsteady gait

  • Slurred and/or incoherent speech

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Slowed thinking

  • Depression

  • Impaired short-term memory

  • Blackouts

alcohol withdrawal, experienced by alcoholics and problem drinkers:

  • Tremors

  • Agitation

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Paranoia and delusions

  • Hallucinations (usually visual)

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Increased body temperature

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate

  • Convulsions

  • Seizures

What are the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse?

In addition to risk of injury or death as a result of accident or violence, alcohol abuse can cause or worsen many physical and mental disorders.

Neurological dangers include impaired vision and impaired motor coordination, memory defects, hallucinations, blackouts, and seizures. Long-term consumption can result in permanent damage to the brain.

Cardiological problems include elevated blood pressure and heart rate, risk of stroke and heart failure.

Respiratory dangers include respiratory depression and failure, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and lung abscesses. Additionally, alcohol abuse increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer.

Liver disease caused by chronic alcohol abuse, including alcoholic fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis, kills 25,000 Americans each year.

Other physiological dangers include damage to the gastrointestinal system (including duodenal ulcers, reflux, and diarrhea), the pancreas, and the kidneys. In addition, alcohol consumption may cause malnutrition, disrupt the absorption of nutrients in food, and suppress the immune system, thus increasing the potential for illness.

Psychological angers include impaired judgment and verbal ability, apathy, introversion, antisocial behavior, inability to concentrate, and deterioration of relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.

Alcohol is an especially dangerous drug for pregnant women. Drinking during pregnancy raises the risk of low-birth weight babies and intrauterine growth retardation, increasing the danger of infection, feeding difficulties, and long-term developmental problems.

Heavy drinking during the early months of pregnancy can result in the birth of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants are likely to have irreversible physical abnormalities.

What is Alcoholism?

Chronic abuse of alcohol can lead to addiction or alcoholism. The behavior of abusers and the consequences of that behavior are better indicators of alcoholism than how often or how much a person may drink. Alcohol addiction can be characterized by increased tolerance, causing the abuser to drink greater amounts to achieve the same desired effect. When an alcoholic stops drinking, he or she will typically experience the symptoms of withdrawal.

For additional information contact the Phoenix House American Council for Drug Education 164 West 74th Street, New York, NY 10023, 1-800-488-DRUG (3784), www.acde.org


Ethanol

Ethyl Alcohol, C2H6O (mol. wt. 46.07)

 
CAS 64-17-5
Melting Point -114.1
Boiling Point 78.3
Solubility Miscible in water. >=10 g/100 mL at 23 C

Preparations:

  • Absinthe
    An alcoholic beverage made with Artemisia absinthium
  • Beer- An alcoholic beverage prepared by fermentation of various species of grains. Brewer's yeast converts carbohydrates in the grains to ethanol. Hops are commonly added as a preservative, and other flavorings are often added. Psychoactive admixture plants can also be added, but this practice is rare today.
     
  • Laudanum- Tincture of opium. Usually a liquid, but the alcoholic extract can be subsequently dried as well. Preparation instructions from Culpeper's Complete Herbal, 1653:

    Take of Thebane Opium extracted in spirit of Wine, one ounce, Saffron alike extracted, a dram and an half, Castorium one dram: let them be taken in tincture of half an ounce of species Diambræ newly made in spirit of Wine, add to them Ambergris, Musk, of each six grains, oil of Nutmegs ten drops, evaporate the moisture away in a bath, and leave the mass.

  • Mead- An alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water. How to Make Mead
  • Pulque- Alcoholic beverage made by fermenting agave.
  • Tequila- An alcoholic drink made from fermented and distilled sap of the blue agave
  • Vin Mariani- This cocaine-containing wine is the best known of several brands popular in the late 1800s
  • Wine- A beverage made from the fermented juice of grapes or other fruits or plants

How to Make Mead

Greetings everyone. Here is a basic overview of how to make mead, a sort of honey based wine. Keep things as sterile as possible, and there should not be too much of a problem producing your own homemade, high quality, mead. Before we begin, allow me to state that I do not condone breaking the law, I am not encouraging anyone to do so, and I strongly urge you to check on local laws pertaining to brewing and the use of any ingredients you may choose to add. In the United States of America each adult citizen is permitted to brew 100 gallons of fermented beer and/or wine annually, according to federal law. Individuals are not permitted to sell this liquor without a proper license, and certain states and localities may further restrict production of fermented beverages.

For each five gallon batch:

  • 5 pounds of honey (up to 10 lbs. to increase sweetness & alcohol)
  • 5 cans of frozen orange juice concentrate (makes ~2 qts. per can)
  • 5 pounds of sugar
  • 2 tbs. of yeast nutrient
  • 4-5 tsp. of fruit acid blend
  • a good wine or mead yeast
  • water to five gallons
Now, this is sort of a rule of thumb type of recipe. For instance, with that much frozen OJ concentrate, I probably would feel just fine about skimping on the fruit acid. At that, a couple of teaspoons of citric acid from the grocery store would be fine. Real fruit acid blend sold in brew stores contains malic, citric, and tartaric acid, present in about that same order of concentration. The acid is a good idea, as it plays a pretty good hand in the final taste, and more importantly helps keep the must more suited for yeast, and less suited for bacteria. Mold, mildew, and other fungus will still grow in it though. A reminder that more is not always better, excessive acidity inhibits the yeast as well as most bacteria. Lactobacillus and aceterbacteria are acid lovers that may take over and produce vinegar if the acidity drops too low.

The yeast nutrient is mostly di-ammonium phosphate and magnesium sulfate. Use a good wine yeast. It is vital to your success and is cheaper than bread yeast in most locales. When I started I skimped and used bread yeast. Bad idea. Good wine yeast is about the cheapest, and most important thing in a brew store. One last thing that isn't mentioned above, but is needed, is sulphite. Again, this is another thing easiest to find in a brew store. Do look for it, as it is very much a useful thing. Sulphite will kill off the molds, etc., that can grow in your acidic unfermented mead. This unfermented liquid is referred to as the must by the way. Perhaps it is called this because you "must" ferment it before drinking!

OK, everything else should be pretty easy to come by. Hopefully you have found a glass carboy, or plastic water cooler jug. It will make things easier to keep sterile/clean. First thing to do is take a 1 gallon glass jar/plastic bottle/other sealable container and mix up 1 tsp. of sulphite powder, or two campden tablets (basically sulphite powder in tablet form) to a gallon of warm or hot water. Don't inhale a lot of this directly, as you may cough up a lung. This will be your sterilizing solution. Clean everything well with hot soapy water, then rinse in hot water. Last thing, rinse with enough sulphite water to coat the surfaces. This will kill just about everything but yeast. In high concentrations it will stun (probably not kill though) yeast too. Wild yeast and baker's yeast tend to be more susceptible than wine yeast.

Warm the honey by placing the honey jar/bottle in a pan of warm water. Place the pan on the stove, set on low for 10-15 minutes. If the honey is still thick, go for 30 minutes. Something that is a pain do, but makes for a prettier product is to mix the honey 1/2 and 1/2 with water before mixing it in with everything else and boil it for an hour. A good way to get the right amount of water, and get all the honey out of the jars, is to fill them with hot water after removing the honey, and mixing this in with the honey to be boiled. As it boils, skim off any foam as it forms. This is protein from the honey. It is very nutritious, and quite sweet eaten by itself (on toast, straight up, whatever). The reason to remove it though, is that it can make the mead cloudy if left in. Nothing wrong with this, other than crystal clear wine/mead is considered by the connoisseurs to be the ideal. I don't bother, but if you are going for aesthetics, go ahead and boil it. A pound of honey should be about a pint or s o. You're looking at boiling around 5 quarts of liquid. Doesn't have to be a strong boil, so long as it is bubbling a little. Skim every so often or the foam will sink, forming a precipitate on the bottom. Place the honey in the carboy. Fill the carboy half way with hot water and dissolve everything well. Add your yeast nutrient, and fruit acid, and mix well. This should ferment vigorously, so you may not want to fill to the 5 gallon mark at this time. Leave 20% of the space empty so it has room to foam up.

This is the point in time when you may wish to add any extras to the must. Traditional mead is made from honey and water alone. Addition of the orange juice concentrate will make the mead into a melomel, which is just mead with fruit juice. Melomel made with grape juice would be referred to as pyment, and apple juice mead is cyser. The addition of herbs such as ginger, cloves, nutmeg, dried mushrooms or fruit, or rosemary result in a beverage called metheglin. Hippocras is mead made with honey, grape juice, and some of the fore mentioned herbs. Generally juice concentrates are the easiest to add, though crushed fruit would work also. If crushed fruit is used, the juice should either be well strained before hand, or the mead should be racked within the first 7 to 10 days after starting the ferment. This will prevent any fruit matter from spoiling along the bottom of the vessel, tainting the mead.

I'll take a moment to mention that five pounds of sugar. It needs to be well dissolved, with no free crystals sitting in the bottom of the fermenting container. Some people add all the sugar right in the beginning. Other add it a pound or so at a time as the yeast ferment it. The reason for this is that a high sugar content can inhibit the yeast to a certain extent. I personally find it simpler, and no less effective, to add all the sugar at one time.

Mix in 4-5 campden tablets, or 4-5 tsp. of sulphite. Stir well again. This will sterilize the whole mix rather nicely. Let this sit over night, and the sulphite will tend to oxidize out somewhat. Meanwhile, mix the yeast into a warm, not hot, (remember that while yeast can stand more acid than bacteria, our fungal friends all tend to be heat sensitive) mix of water, and OJ. The next morning (12-24 hours later at any rate) combine the yeast solution with the must. Make sure your air lock is working.

Did I tell you what happened when I tried to do without an air lock? I placed the screw type cap loosely on the top of a gallon jug. Everything went well for perhaps 24 hours. Then pulp (this was an orange fruit wine) built up in the cap and stopped the escape of the gas. Four weeks later I was still finding glass shards in that room. Some of them embedded in the walls.

The most vigorous fermentation will occur within 3-4 days after adding yeast. After this you can add boiled and cooled water to the 5 gallon mark. Keep in mind that most yeast have a thermal death limit somewhere around 100 deg F, and can be permanently damaged by temps around 95. Shake the carboy twice a day for the first few days, then leave it alone after that.

Ok, now you have fermenting beverage in a big bottle. What to do? Keep the air lock filled with water. With wine you would rack it (change containers) after 2-4 weeks. And again after every 3 months, till it was 9 months to a year old. Siphon off the wine from one container to a clean sterilized (after you add yeast, make sure that everything that touches your mead is rinsed in that sulphite water!) leaving the dead yeast cells, precipitated grape bits etc. behind. With mead however there tends to be very little precipitate (even less when you boil the honey before hand). So rack whenever it starts to build up on the bottom enough to bother you. Often with a relatively pure mead, this may need done but once or twice. The darker the honey, the longer it needs to be aged to reach the "ideal" mead qualities. A very dark honey may take the lion's share of a decade to properly "ripen". In all reality, you can bottle it when there is no more air bubbling out of the air lock. Watch the airlock for a few minutes. If you don't see any activity, bottle. Hydrometers are nice, but not absolutely necessary though. Generally, a hydrometer will come with instructions for use.

Bottling is not that difficult. Scrounge a few wine bottles and buy some corks for a dollar or two. A decent corker, which is a necessity, sells for $15-$20. A 5 gallon carboy makes about 23-25 bottles of mead. Screw cap bottles would be an alternative to corks, though this doesn't look as nice, nor seal and preserve as well. You may now drink your mead as you see fit, or age and ripen it further by storing in a cool dark area. Corked bottles should be stored on a slant so that the cork is in constant contact with the liquid.

 

Videos Alcohol Basics

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Your Body on Booze

 

Binge Drinking

 

Rapid Delivery
 

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

 

Sharing and Sanitation

Drinking and Driving

 

The Calories in Your Cocktail
 

How Alcohol Affects Your Figure
 

The Alcohol Effect on Sex
 

How to Head of a Hangover
 

Quick Fix for Hangovers
 

Myths About Alcohol


 

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