Grain alcohol is a refined form of ethanol produced by distilling fermented grain. The ethanol itself is created through the fermentation of sugars by yeast in grain before repeated distillation.
Due to its high alcohol content, grain alcohol is considered to be extremely dangerous. Consuming more than a small amount can rapidly result in intoxication, impaired thinking and motor skills, and lowered inhibitions. Any person who uses grain alcohol to excess is at a high risk of alcohol poisoning, other severe health consequences, and injury to oneself or others.
Other specific dangers include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Exacerbation of mental illness
- Car accidents
- Risky sexual behaviors
- Brain damage
- Liver or kidney disease
- Increased risk of cancers
- Stroke or heart disease
- Fetal alcohol disorders
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of falls
- Memory/learning problems
Grain Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse and the chronic patterns of drinking associated with it can also lead to severe problems in a person’s life, such as those associated with family, school, career, and finances. It can rapidly lead to legal issues as well, such as drunk driving or open intox convictions.
Alcohol abuse has also been associated with several mood disorders. Harmful drinking patterns can impact a person’s mental health. Indeed, it can cause or aggravate certain mental health problems, such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression.
More on Grain Alcohol
The term “grain alcohol” can be used to refer to any ethanol derived from grain, or it may be reserved for alcohol that is at least 90% pure. Examples of brand name grain alcohols include Everclear (most popular in the U.S.), Gem Clear, Century, and Graves. Grain alcohol is a colorless, odorless liquid that has no added flavor. Most people say that purified alcohol has a medicinal taste and a mild chemical odor.
Grain’s alcohol’s high proof and relatively low price make it attractive to some drinkers, particularly teens and young adults students. Regardless of a person’s age, drinking Everclear can be very dangerous, even in small amounts.
In college or party environments, a person may consume grain alcohol without their knowledge. It’s often mixed into high alcohol content drinks, such as “Jungle Juice.” Conversely, a person who is addicted to alcohol and has a high tolerance may intentionally drink grain alcohol to increase the pleasurable effects.
As noted, Everclear is one of the most popular brands of grain alcohol in the U.S. It comes in three concentrations: 60%, 75.5%, and 95%, representing proofs of 120, 151, and 190 respectively. Comparatively, many other popular liquors, such as rum and vodka, are about 40% alcohol or 80 proof on average. Everclear is, on average, at least twice as potent.
Because of Everclear’s high ABV and the tremendous risks that surround it, the 190 proof version is illegal in many U.S. states. However, some will go to great lengths to obtain it, such as having a friend or family member bring them a bottle from out of state.
It may be nearly effortless to drink a dangerous amount of Everclear in a short amount of time. Despite Everclear’s strength and warnings against consuming it, Everclear abuse does happen. When this happens, it puts a person’s life in immediate jeopardy.
According to makers of Everclear, it is intended to be diluted or used to make an alcoholic beverage of a lower proof. Despite this warning, many people continue to drink it in a way other than intended, which can rapidly place them at risk of serious harm.
While consuming Everclear, a person may overdose on alcohol after a small number of drinks. Acute alcohol poisoning can prove to be fatal, especially if emergency medical attention is not sought it time to render treatment.
The consumption of alcohol is considered to be socially acceptable by many. However, a fine line exists between fun levels of intoxication and alcohol poisoning. Many people don’t realize that alcohol poisoning is an acute overdose of alcohol.
An alcohol overdose occurs when a person’s body, particularly the liver, can no longer keep up with the amount of alcohol overwhelming its system. The liver can only process about 1-2 standard alcohol drinks per hour. Grain alcohol is far and above a “standard” drink, which is 40% for liquor. Just a couple of shots of grain alcohol in one hour can lead to intoxication.
This excess amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream causes impairment to the nervous and respiratory system, and these effects can be life-threatening. As this occurs, the number of toxins produced from the metabolism of alcohol accumulates. When severe, these effects can result in basic life support functions in a person’s body shutting down.
Like drug overdoses, without immediate medical help, severe alcohol poisoning can be deadly. Around 2,200 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. While this number is relatively low compared to some other substances, such as opioids, it does reveal that fatalities from an alcohol overdose occur on a regular basis.
What to Do in Case of Overdose
If a person is exhibiting stupor, barely able to stay awake, or is unconscious, emergency medical attention may be necessary. Being able to recognize the signs of an alcohol overdose can help to save someone’s life.
If you witness the following signs of alcohol poisoning, call 911 or visit the nearest ER immediately:
- Bluish or pale skin
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- Impaired motor skills
- Low body temperature
- Stomach/intestinal bleeding
Fortunately, many people recover from an alcohol overdose, but, tragically, others do not. In the most extreme scenarios, a person could choke and aspirate on their vomit or fall into a coma and die.
Alcohol Poisoning Tips
Other tips for helping someone who is overdosing on alcohol: 1) Get as much information as you can about the person who is overdosing and what they consumed. Provide this information to a 911 operator. 2) Try to keep the person in an upright position. If the person must be lying down, turn them on their side to prevent them from choking on their own vomit. 3) Do not leave the person alone and do not assume they will merely “sleep it off.” 4) Do not attempt to give them a cold shower. This action could lead to hypothermia. 5) Do not attempt to give them food (they may choke) or coffee, which could dehydrate the person further.
Getting Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs that provide people the opportunity to foster sobriety and heal from the destructive effects of chronic alcohol abuse.
Alcohol withdrawal, especially for those who have drunk excessively on a regular basis for a prolonged period, can be life-threatening. While many symptoms of withdrawal will be minor and can be treated through outpatient care only, others have the potential to be lethal. Without prompt medical attention, this condition can lead to death.
After a person has undergone detox and their bodies have returned to normal functioning, next it is vital to work on treating the psychoemotional aspects of addiction. Alcohol rehab programs, such as those offered at Harmony Recovery Center, focus on teaching a person to balance their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a more positive way through the aid of behavioral therapies.
Contact us today if you or someone you love is ready to break free from the cycle of alcohol abuse for life!
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