Alcohol is is any organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group (-O H) is bound to a saturated carbon atom. For example, ethanol_.

Alcohol is used to form alcoholic beverages and is widely consumed as a recreational drug.


1   Etymology

"fine powder produced by sublimation," from Medieval Latin alcohol "powdered ore of antimony," from Arabic al-kuhul "kohl," the fine metallic powder used to darken the eyelids, from kahala "to stain, paint." The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the."

"Powdered cosmetic" was the earliest sense in English; definition broadened 1670s to "any sublimated substance, the pure spirit of anything," including liquids. Modern sense of "intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor" is first recorded 1753, short for alcohol of wine, which was extended to "the intoxicating element in fermented liquors." In organic chemistry, the word was extended 1850 to the class of compounds of the same type as this.

2   Classification

2.1   Sugar alcohol


The main ingredient in sugar-free gummies is lycasin, a hydrogenated syrup. Lycasin consists mainly of maltitol, a sugar alcohol that is almost as sweet as table sugar but half as caloric. Our bodies cannot fully digest maltitol, so it can ferment in the gut. The known side effects of the excessive consumption of lycasin are bloating, flatulence, and loose stools.

A sugar alcohol is a kind of alcohol prepared from sugar.

In commercial foodstuffs, sugar alcohols are commonly used in place of table sugar (sucrose), often in combination with high intensity artificial sweeteners to counter the low sweetness. Unlike sugars, sugar alcohols are not metabolized by oral bacteria, and so they do not contribute to tooth decay.

Sugar alcohols are usually incompletely absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestines which generally results in a smaller change in blood glucose than "regular" sugar (sucrose). However, like many other incompletely digestible substances, overconsumption of sugar alcohols can lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence because they are not absorbed in the small intestine.

3   Toxicity

Via Reddit:

What we normally refer to as alcohol is ethanol, which is a moderately toxic chemical compound our body can deal with reasonably well compared to ethanol's meaner cousins.

Nonetheless, alcohol interacts with the brain in a way that it competes with a substance produced by neurons to send signal across synapses (the gaps between neurons). This substance is called GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). A lot of the effects we experience when we drink too much root in this GABA vs ethanol competition. Also alcohol is a drug and can lead to addiction and tolerance, altough it is much weaker in that than e.g. cocaine or nicotine.

The second major organ that suffers from alcohol is the liver, where ethanol is metabolized to acetaldehyde. This substance is heavily hepatotoxic (liver-damaging) and carcinogenic (which ethanol is as well strictly spoken, but way less). In heavy or long-time drinkers, liver damage such as steathosis, cirrhosis and hepatic cancer can occur.

Also, ethanol acts on your skin's blood vessels. It widens them and it results in you not feeling cold when you normally would. This can be dangerous and has killed quite some people too.

As I mentioned before, ethanol rises the risk of some cancer directly too (oral cancer, cancers of the digestive system etc.).


lso in heavy drinkers, the abrupt discontinuation of drinking (AKA ceasing the artificial supply of excess GABA-activity to the brain) can cause moderate to serious withdrawal symptoms, ranging from sweating, anxiety, and tremors, to visual disturbances, altered mental status, seizure, delirium tremens, and coma.

This is because GABA is inhibitory in our brain and slows us down, and so when we drink excessively, your brain up-regulates the opposite neurotransmitter, glutamate, in order to try to balance things out with excitatory activity. When you stop giving your brain extra GABA, aka alcohol, the excitatory glutamate activity takes over and can cause life-threatening symptoms.

People who are addicted to alcohol or heavy users also can be heavily vitamin deficient, especially in folic acid and b vitamins such as b12 and thiamine, which may lead to anemias or other more serious issues. When people come into the hospital with heavy alcohol use history, we always give them thiamine. Usually also b12, folate, and a benzodiazepine like Ativan that ya simile effects on the brain to alcohol to help reduce the likelihood of complications from withdrawal.

People don’t realize you can die from alcohol withdrawal. Even withdrawing from something like heroin is much “safer” by comparison, not usually life threatening, albeit extremely uncomfortable.


I didn't read all the comments but I didn't see anyone mention that alcohol inhibits antidiuretic hormone. Antidiuretic hormone tells your kidneys not to release water. So inhibiting ADH means you pee more. So peeing excessively from a night of heavy drinking leaves you dehydrated. Dehydration is a lot of what a hangover is.

4   Further reading

TGI Fridays Launched as New York’s First Singles Bar

If hand sanitizer kills 99.99% of germs, then won't the surviving 0.01% make hand sanitizer resistant strains?

Most hand sanitizers use alcohol, which kills indiscriminately. It would kill us if we didn't have livers to filter it, and in high enough doses will kill anyway. Some germs survive due to randomly being out of contact, in nooks and crannies and such, not due to any mechanism that might be selected for.

Sanitizers almost always use alcohol, which bacterial cells don’t really have any cellular means of developing resistance against. You may as well worry about developing resistance to having a nuke dropped directly on your face. Alcohol essentially saps bacterial cells of all moisture instantaneously, and to combat that they would need to develop characteristics which would essentially make them not even bacteria anymore (like a plant-like cell wall or a eukaryote-like complex cell membrane)

Alcohol doesn’t work mainly by sapping moisture, it actually causes the bacterial cell membrane (and eukaryotic cell membranes also) to basically dissolve. We can put it on our hands because of our epidermal outer layer of already-dead cells which basically doesn’t give a fuck about alcohol.

Some bacteria actually can develop resistance to low to moderate concentrations of alcohol, by devoting more resources to a thickened cell membrane.