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Aspects of Alcohol & Alcohol Abuse

The drug to be considered in this report is alcohol.

The alcohol which is commonly consumed is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol (Lender, High on ethanol, 2001). Common names for alcohol include booze, hooch, moonshine, grog. Ethanol has the chemical formula C2H5OH and is a clear liquid which is readily soluble in water but only slightly soluble in fat. Alcohol for consumption is produced by yeast fermentation of sugar in corn, molasses, grain or fruit. Beverages containing ethanol include beer, wine and spirits such as gin, vodka, rum, brandy and whiskey.

A 12-ounce can of beer contains between 13 grams and 17 grams of ethyl alcohol, a four ounce glass of wine contains between 14 grams and 17 grams of alcohol and a one to one and a half ounce shot of spirits (e.g. 86 proof whiskey) contains between 13 grams and 19 grams of alcohol (Lender, High on ethanol, 2001). The average American consumed a six-pack of beer, two glasses of wine,, and three or four mixed drinks every week in 1997. This statistic included the 35 percent of Americans who don't drink, so individuals who do drink actually drink much more than this on average.

Alcohol has been around as long as recorded history, and today the majority of Americans use alcohol in their daily lives. (Lender, 2001). As long ago as the 1780s, some physicians considered alcoholism a disease. In 1784, Benjamin Rush, America's foremost physician of the time, called chronic drunkenness a disease that led drinkers through an addictive process and identified alcohol as the addictive agent. In the nineteenth century, many writers noted that alcohol problems seemed to run in families. Many business managers became temperance advocates after seeing alcohol impact the safety of workers in industrial plants.

It is estimated that as many as 14 million Americans have some degree of a drinking problem and that around 8 million are actually alcoholics...

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