Alcohol Use and Health

Authored by: Joel Erblich

Handbook of Health Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138052819
eBook ISBN: 9781315167534
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315167534-10

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Abstract

Ethyl alcohol is an organic compound with the molecular formula CH2CH3OH. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that is created from the fermentation of sugars exposed to microorganisms. The fermentation process yields solutions that have a maximum concentration of about 10–15% alcohol, a concentration that can be further augmented by the process of distillation. Alcoholic beverages are available in a variety of concentrations, most notably, beer (about 5% alcohol), malt beverages (about 7% alcohol), wine (about 12% alcohol), and distilled spirits (e.g., whiskey, rum, gin, vodka; about 40–50% alcohol). Alcohol consumption has been an important part of human behavior since recorded history and has important social and cultural significance. Unfortunately, alcohol is also a substance with strong abuse liability. Excessive alcohol consumption, or ‘problem drinking,’ can result in significant negative medical, social, interpersonal, academic, and public health consequences, including the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs). This chapter briefly reviews the behavioral pharmacology and biochemistry of alcohol, as well as the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. Next, the chapter highlights key biopsychosocial models of the patterns, predictors, and consequences of alcohol consumption. Finally, the chapter briefly reviews the most recent clinical intervention efforts to reduce alcohol consumption.

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