A tonic and a poison

Whether alcohol functions as a tonic or a poison, lies mostly in the dose. Here in the United States, one drink is usually considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as vodka or whiskey). Each delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol. The active ingredient in alcoholic beverages is ethanol and affects the body in different ways. It also alters mood, coordination, and concentration.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries. In the U.S., alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal traffic accidents. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships”.

Harvard also reports, “The definition of moderate drinking is something of a balancing act. Moderate drinking sits at the point at which the health benefits of alcohol clearly outweigh the risks. The latest consensus places this point at no more than one to two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women”.

Many factors, including your genetic makeup, can impact how drinking alcohol effects your body and behavior. For certain people, drinking alcohol has a different, stronger impact that could lead to an alcohol use disorder. Over time, drinking too much alcohol may change the normal function of the areas of your brain associated with the experience of pleasure, judgment and the ability to exercise control over your behavior. Some members of my family and a few of my friends, have chosen not to drink at all because of the significant risks to their health and wellness.






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