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Alcohol 

Alcohol
Chapter:
Alcohol
Author(s):

Leslie L. Iversen

, Susan D. Iversen

, Floyd E. Bloom

, and Robert H. Roth

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195380538.003.0649
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date: 30 May 2020

When textbooks of chemistry describe alcohol, they refer to any organic compound consisting of carbon and hydrogen in which the hydroxyl group -OH is attached to the carbon atom. When textbooks of pharmacology refer to alcohol, the substance cited is ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, the main alcohol present in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, or hard liquors such as whiskey, gin, vodka, and brandy. The acute and chronic effects of beverage alcohol, ethanol, are widely held to be socially acceptable when consumed in moderation but are physically and criminally dangerous when consumed in excess consistently. Finding the scientifically validated boundary between acceptable moderate use and excessive consumption is a matter of individual metabolism, history of consumption, cultural environment, and, often, family history.

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