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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Alcohol FAQs

Let’s go through a couple of points for a better understanding of booze
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 16, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Alcohol FAQs

Booze is a great thing. By many accounts, beer is the world’s most popular beverage, and other alcoholic beverages like wine and spirits enjoy immense popularity. Common to all these is alcohol – that magical “elixir” that makes this class of drinks a notch above your colas, sodas and whatnot.

Let’s go through a couple of FAQs for a better understanding of this substance.

Why shouldn’t we take medication with alcohol?
To exert its desired effect, a drug usually travels through the bloodstream to its target site, where it triggers a change in an organ or tissue. The drug’s effects diminish as it gets metabolised by enzymes, and subsequently gets ejected from our bodies.

Alcohol exhibits similar behaviour since it likewise goes through the bloodstream, acts upon the brain to cause intoxication, and later gets processed and discarded by the liver. Due to this similarity, alcohol may interact with medication in ways that are adverse to our health.

First, alcohol may compete with medication for the same set of metabolising enzymes. The result is somewhat like an understaffed office – too much stuff to process, too few workers to do it – and both alcohol and drug remain in our bodies longer. Such prolonged retention increases the patient’s risk of experiencing harmful side effects from the drug.

Second, chronic alcohol consumption may inadvertently activate drug-metabolising enzymes excessively, with the result that medication gets processed too efficiently. (I bet you never imaged that too much efficiency could be a bad thing, right?) Furthermore, after these enzymes get activated, they could remain active even after the alcohol has been ejected from our bodies. For several weeks thereafter, the patient may experience less effectiveness from medication, and require a higher dosage as a result.

Finally, enzymes activated by chronic alcohol consumption may chemically interact with certain drugs to produce substances that are harmful to the liver or other organs. For instance, chronic heavy drinkers who also take painkillers are more likely to suffer liver damage.

I’m no doctor, but take it from me that you shouldn’t mix medicine with booze. In any case, you shouldn’t be drinking to excess.

Can we develop a higher tolerance to alcohol?
Regular consumption of alcohol does indeed increase your tolerance to its intoxicating effect. The seasoned drinker will tell you that while all it took was a can of beer to get him high years back, nowadays a six-pack merely tickles him a little.

Over time, our bodies become more efficient at processing alcohol. Some sources report that alcoholics process alcohol about 70 per cent faster than a normal person, and beyond a certain threshold, our organs simply become numb to it.

Please don’t take alcohol tolerance as a good sign. It’s usually bad news, since it probably means that you’re drinking more and more just to get the same degree of intoxication that you achieved last time. This is a precursor to organ damage and a host of physiological and social debilities.


Alcohol FAQs – Part 2