Alcohol (ethanol) is a depressant produced by fermenting yeasts, sugars (fruit), and starch (grains). It is quickly absorbed by the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream, and metabolized in the liver. Heavy consumption exceeds the capacity for metabolic processing releasing the excess into the bloodstream. This entry discusses the history of alcohol use, consumption of alcohol by country and by gender, racial and ethnic groups, and age in the United States. The entry also touches on the economic impact in the United States and the health risk and benefits of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is assessed by the amount of pure alcohol in a standard drink (14 grams or 0.6 ounces). A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol, 10 proof), 8 ounces ...

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