Police Department

Alcohol and the Body


Physiology of the Human Body and the Effects of Alcohol

Knowing the uses and abuses is just as important as reading the instructions on a bottle of pills. You should know how your body handles alcohol, how much is safe to consume, and how your body gets rid of it. When you drink, small amount of alcohol enters directly into your bloodstream through he lining of the mouth and throat. The remaining amount of alcohol is absorbed by the stomach or intestine. At this point the alcohol is then dispersed uniformly throughout the body. Its effects are similar to ether or chloroform, affecting all parts of the body controlled by the brain. Your ability to make appropriate judgments and to exercise self-control is affected. Alcohol must be broken down in order to leave the system. More than 90 percent of the alcohol is oxidized in the liver and the remainder is discharged through the lungs and kidneys. It takes just as long for he experienced drinker to eliminate alcohol as it does for the inexperienced drinker.

Behavior as a Result of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol affects everyone in different ways, depending on your mood, physical condition, personality and the company you keep. If you are getting over an illness or have had little sleep, he effects will be magnified. If you are stressed out, drinking will only compound your feelings of anxiety and possibly lead to aggressive or hostile behavior. Your social environment will also play a factor. A few drinks with your friends will make you feel drunker than a few drinks with your family. Tolerance is simply learning to compensate for some of the more obvious symptoms of drinking. While experienced drinkers can learn to act normally when talking or walking, they cannot control the effects of alcohol on skills demanding fine motor coordination or precise judgment. A physical tolerance can be obtained by prolonged regular drinking. The liver becomes more efficient in breaking down alcohol. As a result more alcohol may be needed o produce he mode-altering effects experienced in the earlier stages. There is an established sequence of symptoms associated with intoxication. The first mental process that is affected are those connected with training or previous experiences, such as driving. A few more drinks will cause familiar and habitual tasks requiring little thought are impaired. Muscular control and reflexes are become depressed as even more alcohol is introduced into the system. At this point a subject could become hostile or aggressive. Beyond this point there is a great risk of falling into a stupor and eventual coma. If the coma persists for more than 10 hours, death by asphyxiation due to the paralysis respiratory center of he brain. Poisoning takes place at BAC's above 400mg%.

Alcohol's Effects upon Driving Ability

Driving performance has been know to be impaired at a BAC level of 50mg%. Alcohol impairment of performance in divided attention tasks is most likely due to an impairment of the information processing. Driving an automobile is usually taken for granted as being a relatively easy task, not requiring much conscious effort or critical judgment. Yet the sensory functions of the body bombard he brain with required information which must be assimilated and processed such that smooth, controlled operation of the automobile results. The sensory functions themselves are deteriorated and may not be supplying complete or correct information to the brain. A person's motor skills are impaired, and yet due to the depressant effects that person will feel less inhibited and more self-confident about his driving skills.


Contact Information

UMKC Police Department
5005 Oak St.
Kansas City, MO 64110
Emergency Dial 9-1-1
Phone: 816-235-1515
Fax: 816-235-5501
Office hours: 24 hours per day
7 days per week
365 days per year.