There is always some alcohol in the body. The carbohydrates starch and sugar form alcohol when decomposed, so some alcohol enters the bloodstream after every meal. There is always about a gram of alcohol in our body. But when we drink alcohol, this amount is increased.
Alcohol is actually a narcotic, but a weak one. A narcotic is a sub- stance that penetrates into the nerve cells and has a paralysing effect on them. But before the narcotic paralyses, it stimulates the nerve cells and excites them.
The first thing that happens when a person takes in alcohol is that it stimulates the mucous membranes of the mouth and the pharynx. This causes the salivary glands and the gastric glands to produce their secretion. This is why people drink some alcohol to stimulate the appetite before dinner.
Alcohol has an effect on the muscles of the body. It raises the per- centage of the fuels that the muscles can transform into work-energy. So for a short period it seems to enable people to perform physical work better. But this is followed by a period of fatigue, so the total effect is not a good one.
Alcohol also seems to stimulate the brain. A person talks and acts with more vivacity. The skin gets redder, the blood pressure rises, and the heartbeat and breathing are increased.
But actually, alcohol has a depressing effect on the brain. It affects more or higher functions such as thinking, observing, and paying attention. The controls a person has are relaxed and his judgment becomes poorer. How much alcohol a person has to take before this happens depends on many things. But this state, which we call intoxication, can be dangerous if the person still has to perform responsible actions such as driving or working.
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