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Word Count: 1,562
ALCOHOLISM Alcoholism is a chronic progressive illness involving excessive ingestion of ethyl alcohol either in the form of beverages or as a constituent of other substances eg cough mixture It is an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol which frequently leads to brain damage and early death Ten percent of adult drinkers in the United State are considered alcoholics More males than females are affected but drinking among women and the young is on the increase The development of alcoholism as opposed to heavy drinking has been thought of as a symptom of psychological or social stress as a learned maladaptive coping behaviour More recently and more accurately it has come to be viewed as a complex disease entity in its own right Alcoholism develops over a period of years Early subtle symptoms include placing importance on the availability of alcohol and ensuring that this availability influences choices of friends and activities Alcohol is used more as a mood-changing drug than as a beverage The alcoholic will have a high tolerance to alcohol consuming more and having fewer adverse effects than others A person will start to drink against his own best interests alcohol will become more important than personal relationships work reputation and physical health Physical addiction to the drug will occur leading to round the clock drinking to avoid withdrawal symptoms Medico-legal Aspects of Acute Alcohol Intoxication When an alcoholic beverage is drunk alcohol can be absorbed directly into the blood stream from the stomach especially if no food has been taken recently Absorption from the intestines When alcohol is ingested in a diluted form it is absorbed more quickly than when it is concentrated Absorption is usually complete within 1 - 3 hours Heavy drinkers tend to absorb alcohol more quickly than occasional drinkers Alcohol concentration in the blood rises steeply followed by a more gradual upward slope to reach a maximum
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