What is alcohol?
Alcohol (ethanol) is a legal drug with sedative (attenuating) effects in Slovakia. Ethanol increases the activity of the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin. GABA regulates muscle tension and suppresses the transmission of information in the body, has relaxing and calming effects and initially evokes a feeling of euphoria. Serotonin regulates, among other things, mood, perception, memory, sleep, body temperature. Alcohol acts in the cerebral cortex, in the limbic system and suppresses the central nervous system. Alcohol can cause physical and mental addiction.
What are the effects of alcohol?
It has a relaxing effect, increases self-confidence, relieves pain, can cause aggression or depressive states, impairs motor skills, causes memory loss and disrupts REM sleep, which is important for memory consolidation. At high doses, it suppresses the respiratory and circulatory system, which can lead to death, especially in combination with other sedatives or medicines. It causes a leaching of serotonin, which makes you feel happy and uplifted. However, the body does not manage to replace flushed serotonin and its deficiency, caused mainly by frequent and long-term alcohol consumption, increases the risk of depression. Never drink alcohol during pregnancy. If you do not drink alcohol, you will avoid all risks.
How can I use alcohol as safely as possible and avoid hangover?
The strength of the hangover and the risk of poisoning depend mainly on the amount of alcohol consumed. The peak of effects usually occurs up to 40-60 minutes after use. By keeping the same time gap between consumption, you will avoid the unexpected surprise of sudden drunkenness. Eat half an hour before or after you start drinking alcohol (preferably a greasy meal, fat slows down the absorption of alcohol, but does not reduce its strength), do not mix types of alcohol, drink enough non-alcoholic liquids (preferably water or mineral water) and do not forget to move. Avoid alcoholic beverages with a high sugar content. Avoid alcohols with a high content of congeners (by-products), e.g. cognac, tequila and whiskey. White alcohols led by vodka contain the least congeners. Getting enough sleep helps mitigate the effects on the next day. Before going to bed, drink a glass of water and keep some water for the night so that you have something to drink during short awakenings. Continue replenishing fluids in the morning, mineral water is ideal because it will replenish lost minerals. Early drinking of alcohol slows down the metabolism (processing and breakdown) of alcohol residues in the body. A breakfast high in protein, sugars and fats will help you regain lost nutrients.
What to do or not to do if someone drinks too much alcohol?
The first signs that you drank too much alcohol include lethargy, reduced speech clarity and loss of barriers (especially increased noise). However, losing your barriers will reduce your ability to assess your condition and stop drinking alcohol, so it is a good idea to have someone with you who will prevent you from continue drinking. Loss of control over alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning, which symptoms are e.g. loss of coordination, vomiting, confusion, irregular breathing, losing healthy skin color, and loss of consciousness. In this case, it is best to seek medical attention. Alcohol poisoning causes the vomitive reflex to be suppressed, therefore place the unconscious person on the side in a stabilized position and never pour water into the person’s mouth (there is a risk of suffocation). Also, do not make him / her vomit, you will no longer get alcohol from your body this way. Do not try to wake him or her up and “walk it” because you risk the person falling to the ground and hurting himself / herself. Alcohol poisoning also lowers the body temperature and therefore never put a person with poisoning under a cold shower, there is a risk of hypothermia.
Combination of alcohol and other psychoactive substances?
It is safest not to use alcohol at all, but if you want to use it, do not combine it with any other drugs or medicines. Never combine alcohol with other sedatives, as their similar metabolic mechanisms may cause e.g. overdose, loss of motor skills and consciousness. Among these sedatives belong e.g. benzodiazepines (Xanax, Lexaurin), anesthetics (ketamine), some types of antihistamines, opiates (codeine, heroin, tramadol), some types of antidepressants. The combination of alcohol and antidepressants (eg MAOIs, SNRIs, DNRIs) can lead to worsening of depressive symptoms, rapid increases in blood pressure, epileptic seizures, or an unexpected increase in the intensity of intoxication. A combination of alcohol and marijuana is also popular, but you are under the risk of losing control of the amount of both drugs used. You also increase your chances of experiencing paranoia, dizziness or nausea. Marijuana prevents vomiting, which with large amounts of alcohol can lead to suffocation. If you decide to take marijuana and alcohol at the same time, always take marijuana first, wait for its effects and then drink alcohol. When mixed with energy drinks, you run the risk of drinking much more alcohol than normal, but also of taking more than the recommended daily dose of caffeine. This combination increases the likelihood of sudden heart problems, sleep problems, and feelings of tension and agitation. Both substances dehydrate the body and their combined effect can achieve dangerous levels of dehydration, which can permanently damage the brain.