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Alcohol

  • By: Monica H. Swahn & Jane Palmier
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol. Alcohol is a neurochemical inhibitor and therefore produces a depressant effect in those who drink it. Alcoholic drinks are classified into three broad classes: beer, wine, and distilled spirits. The production of fermented alcoholic beverages is over 9,000 years old, viticulture (winemaking) dates to 6000 B.C.E, and humans have been distilling spirits since the 6th century.

Alcohol use is a major public health problem, not only in the United States but also worldwide. The widespread use of alcohol has been well documented, as have the many harmful consequences of its use. Similarly, the global burden of disease from alcohol use is also of tremendous scope and represents a top priority for prevention worldwide. Because excessive alcohol use is ...

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