Drinking and Health

We all know that drinking excessively harms the body.  In this page we will look at what are some of the effects that drinking has to our liver and overall health, what drinking has over your case with the law.

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What is my liver and its functions?

The liver is the largest organ in the body and lies under your ribs on the right hand side. If the liver fails completely then death within 3-4 days is inevitable unless a new liver is transplanted – there is no such thing as an artificial liver. The liver produces proteins and energy from food. The liver detoxifies waste products and drugs so that they can be excreted safely.

If the body were a country, the liver would be the manufacturing industry, the food industry, the waste disposal industry, and the petro-chemical industry. In other words it’s quite important. The liver has a lot of spare capacity and so when it starts to go wrong nothing is noticed until things are really bad.

The liver doesn’t have any pain nerves in it, and so liver disease normally does not cause pain.

If you are regularly drinking more than 5-6 units a day (30-40 units / week) then you will almost certainly have a fatty liver, and may well develop more serious liver problems over time.

Fatty liver, or steatosis, is a broad term that describes the buildup of fats in the liver. Having fat in your liver is normal, but if more than five to 10 percent is fat, then it is called fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is a reversible condition and usually goes away on its own. Fatty liver often has no symptoms and does not cause any permanent damage. Fatty liver develops when the body creates too much fat or cannot metabolize fat fast enough. As a result, the leftover is stored in liver cells where it accumulates to become fatty liver disease. Eating a high-fat diet does not directly result in fatty liver.  However, in the long term, it can cause liver to not function as well as it does, especially with lower metabolic rates when you age.

It is usually safe for men to drink 21 units of alcoholic drinks a week and for women to take up to 14 units a week or one and a half bottles of wine is fine – above this all the potential health benefits have disappeared, and the risk of high blood pressure and stroke start to increase.

Anything above 30- 40 units can cause slow damages to your liver and also develop fatty liver, this means that the liver will not be able to function as well as it used to.  Also this will depend on your lifestyle, you age and also your eating habits and body types.

What is 1 unit then?

1 unit of alcohol is 10 mls or 1 cl of pure alcohol:

Originally this was the same as:

  • A small glass of wine
  • Half pint of normal bitter
  • A single measure of spirits(25ml)

However over the years the drinks industry have made drinks stronger: Most lagers or ciders are now 5% alcohol by volume, and a pint is 3 units.  Pub glasses of wine are 175ml or 2.5 units, or even 250ml or 3.5 units.  Even measures of spirits have often been increased from 25ml to 35ml or 1.5 units.

The alcohol content of some normal drinks is as follows:

  • Small bottle of lager or alcopop 1.5 unit
  • Can of lager or cider 2.2 units
  • Pint of 5% lager 3 units
  • Pint of very strong (8%) lager or cider 5 units
  • Bottle of wine 9 units
  • Bottle of spirits 30 units

I find this drinkulator on a UK website pretty good for assessing your alcoholism and whether it is harming you.  By answering a few simple questions you can see whether you are causing harm to your body.

http://www.drinksafely.info/Drinkulator/

What Happens when you DRINK AND DRIVE

When you engage a lawyer to fight for your case, many times, engaging a psychologist and fighting along the line of your body’s inability to handle alcohol is an avenue for you to present the case.  But many times, this can be a double edged sword.  Given the TP’s extensive efforts to educate the masses especially motorist on drink/drunk driving, every motorist should know that drink and drive does not mix. The court might even view this as an excuse or even being negligent and deem it as an aggravating rather a mitigating factor.

Brains and Nerves

The human brain has to deal with many things and process countless data all the time.  Alcohol affects attentiveness and one’s ability to make quick decisions on the road, react to changes in the environment and execute specific, often difficult maneuvers behind the wheel.  When drinking alcohol, driving becomes dangerous – and is potentially lethal!

The cerebrum controls advanced functions, such as reasoning, vision, recognition and emotion. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and affects judgment, movement, vision and speech.The cerebellum largely controls movement, and deals with reflexes, balance and co-ordination. The medulla controls basic survival functions such as heartbeat and breathing, both of which processes can be stopped entirely by severe alcohol consumption.

Nerves carry messages to different parts of your body with instructions to do things. The brain and the nerves are made up of neurons that actually carry the messages from your brain and back. The neurons do not actually touch one another – there is a space between them, which are called synapses. Electrical signals carry messages the length of the neuron and neurotransmitters carry the messages across the synapse to the next neuron. It is in the synapses that alcohol affects the working of your brain, as a couple of drinks will affect the efficiency with which neurotransmitters carry messages between the neurons.

This is why someone who has had too much to drink cannot walk in a straight line, speaks in a slurred fashion, drives in a weaving pattern across the road and is slow to brake in an emergency situation.

When we drive, we use many basic skills simultaneously – perception, judgment, quick physical reaction, decision-making. When we have had too much alcohol, we become unable to co-ordinate all these actions.

The following things are typical of a drunk driver:

  • Limited ability to judge distances between both stationary and moving objects
  • Difficulty negotiating a car in or out of a parking spot
  • Increased difficulty to adjust to sudden darkness
  • Difficulty in maintaining a constant speed
  • Peripheral vision is impaired and little attention is given to road signs, other traffic and pedestrians
  • Increased time before the driver reacts to an emergency situation by stepping on the brake or correcting the steering

If you have been a passenger of someone who drink drives, you will notice that even the person is sober, he or she is simply unable to control the vehicle as well as if he or she didn’t drink any alcohol at all.  We are all unaware of the situation when we are in it.  But you need a friend to tell you that YOU CANNOT DRIVE when you are drinking.  And please listen to your friend when such occassion arise. I would even think it will be better that you are dead drunk and just sleep in the car park rather than drive.  At least you know you are not at the risk to kill someone!

HOW TO CONTROL YOURSELF

Very simple, take a taxi or public transport to your location ( bar, pub or disco).  If unfortunately you have already drove to your location to party, here are the recommendations( highest recommended as number 1):

1. Leave the car in the car park.  The parking fees is NOTHING compared to the fines and what you are about to lose.  DON’T CHALLENGE THE LAW.

2. Hire ANGELS to drive you home:http://valetdrivehomeservicesingapore.weebly.com/.  You can have your car and yourself back home safe!

3. DO NOT DRINK so much.  Keep constant check out and take one drink with a glass of water.  Go to the toilet at least 3 times before going home.

4. Call your family members/ friends to come and pick you up.

5. Party with reliable people and let them know you are driving so that they will control you.

6. SIMPLY DEAD drunk yourself outside and check in a hotel and wonder why you had such a hangover.  However, do note that despite the second morning, alcohol can still exist in your body and you might still fail the test.

Singapore has a good extensive public transportation system.  Do try to make use of it rather than lose your licence.

 

 

 

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