EtOH may sound like the slang name for a new street drug, but it actually refers to one of the most common causes of addiction. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is the key ingredient in all alcoholic drinks. The buzz people can get from a glass of wine or a cocktail? That’s from ethanol. Therefore, the simple answer to the question, “What is EtOH?” is that it is the alcohol that gives beer, wine, and hard liquor their kick.
The name EtOH is not really a slang term at all, either. That abbreviation is commonly used in hospitals and other medical settings to refer to ethyl alcohol. While ethanol can be consumed in drinks, this chemical also has industrial uses as a cleaning solvent, an active ingredient in antibacterial soap products, and a gasoline additive.
Ethanol is produced through a fermentation process. Yeast activates the starches in feedstock crops such as the grains barley and sorghum, as well as beets, corn, and sugar cane, transforming those carbohydrates into sugars. Those sugars are then fermented and distilled to make the ethanol (a process that is similar to how moonshine is made.)
The fermentation processes for beer, wine, and spirits all differ, which affects the alcohol content of the final products and explains why some types of drinks are more potent than others. Consumers can tell how much alcohol is in their drink by looking for the term ABV on a bottle or can—it stands for alcohol by volume and is listed as a percentage. Typically, beer has the lowest average ABV ( 4.5%), followed by wine (11.6%), and hard liquor (37%). On its own, pure grain alcohol can reach a whopping 95% ABV. Some beverage manufacturers offer bottled grain alcohol to be used as drink mixers, which means this dangerously potent version of alcohol is easily accessible.
While EtOH may not be a familiar term to many people, they shouldn’t be fooled: EtOH abuse is alcohol abuse, plain and simple. EtOH withdrawal symptoms, side effects,and health risks are the same, and just as serious, as those associated with alcoholism. Anyone misusing ethanol should seek help as soon as possible.
EtOH Drug Use and Side Effects
EtOh and drugs are similar in that both are very addictive, and abusing either one can lead people to develop a tolerance and dependence on the substance. That means they need more of the alcohol or drug to get the pleasurable high they crave, and they can’t imagine getting through their day without it
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a standard drink as:
- 1.5 oz. of spirits or hard liquor
- 5 oz. of wine,
- 8 oz. of malt liquor
- 12 oz. of beer
Using that as a reference point, the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans categorize drinking patterns in the following ways:
- Moderate alcohol consumption: up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks for men.
- Binge drinking: five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women over the course of roughly two hours.
- Heavy drinking: 15 or more beverages for men and eight or more for women during a weeklong period.
Binge drinking and heavy drinking carry significant risks and side effects. One of the most immediate dangers is EtOH poisoning. When someone has too many alcoholic drinks in a short time period, especially those beverages with a high ABV, it could result in symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, low temperature and heart and breathing rates, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Left untreated, EtOH poisoning poses life-threatening danger.
Chronic EtOH abuse can lead to alcohol use disorder. This dire condition takes a profound toll on a person’s health and well being. If someone cannot limit their alcohol intake, develops a tolerance, and focuses on drinking at the expense of family and career responsibilities, that person exhibits signs of alcohol use disorder.
EtOH overconsumption causes many physical and psychological ramifications. Ethanol cravings can intensify, making it harder to quit drinking. Just thinking about getting that next drink can preoccupy someone’s thoughts during the day and night to the exclusion of anything else, such as socializing with others, spending time with family, and keeping up with the basic requirements for daily living. Not only is the EtOH abuser’s safety in danger with an increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts, but the safety of others is imperiled when that person drives or commits a crime while under the influence.
The detrimental health effects of EtOH abuse seem staggering. In addition to EtOH poisoning, they include: vision problems, liver disease, damage to the gastrointestinal, nervous, and cardiovascular systems, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, thin and brittle bones, birth defects, weak immune response, and an increased risk of some cancers. Depending on the intensity of the disorder, these side effects can range from mild to severe. The sooner someone can stop drinking, there’s a better chance that symptoms won’t escalate. However, if someone tries to stop cold turkey after a sustained period of excessive drinking, they run the risk of EtOH withdrawal. Understanding what that process entails can help people realize the need for professional, qualified treatment programs to help them safely embark on the process of recovery and healing.
EtOH Withdrawal Symptoms
The body and the brain adapt themselves to elevated ethanol consumption, so when the alcohol disappears the effect can be jarring. A person undergoing EtOH withdrawal may experience uncontrollable tremors, anxiety, and insomnia. The brain, which overproduced stimulating chemicals to counteract alcohol’s depressant qualities, is jolted out of its ethanol-induced stupor and the mind races. In some cases, that triggers delirium tremens (DTs), in which the irregular brain chemistry can’t control the body’s vital signs, leaving sufferers vulnerable to heart attack or stroke, or in worst cases, death.
What is an EtOH Treatment Program That is Effective?
EtOH abuse requires urgent intervention. If you or someone you love is addicted to ethanol, seek professional help at our ibogaine treatment center. Our team of medical professionals strives to give all patients the chance for a successful recovery through the innovative use of ibogaine as part of a program where treatment is tailored to each individual. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.