March 3, 2015

Physiology of Alcohol Standardized Field Sobriety Test Course

Physiology of Alcohol  Standardized Field Sobriety Test Course 
E.  Physiology of Alcohol 
A brief overview of alcohol: 
Alcohol is the most abused drug in the United States. 
"Alcohol" is the name given to a family of closely related and naturally occurring chemicals. Each of the chemicals that is called an "alcohol" contains a molecule chemists refer to as a "hydroxy radical." This radical contains one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom bonded together. The simplest alcohol has only one carbon atom, three hydrogen atoms, and one hydroxy radical. The next alcohol has two carbon atoms, five hydrogen atoms and one hydroxy radical. The third alcohol has three carbon atoms, seven hydrogen atoms and one hydroxy radical. That is how the alcohols differ from one another. 
Alcohols are molecularly very similar and produce similar effects. They produce intoxicating effects when ingested into the human body.  Only one of them is meant for human consumption. However, when ingested in substantial quantities it can cause death. 
Session 2 – Detection and General Deterrence 
Some Types of Alcohol 
  • Methyl Alcohol (Methanol) 
  • Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol) 
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol) 

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Standardized Field Sobriety Test Course 
Three of the more commonly known alcohols are Methyl, Ethyl, and Isopropyl. 

• Methyl alcohol also known as Methanol or wood alcohol. 
• Ethyl alcohol also known as Ethanol or beverage alcohol. 
• Isopropyl Alcohol ( sopropanol) also known as rubbing alcohol. 
Session 2 – Detection and General Deterrence 
Ethyl Alcohol (Intended for human consumption) 
Chemical Symbols 


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Standardized Field Sobriety Test Course 
The ingestible alcohol is known as ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. Its chemical abbreviation is ETOH. The "ET" stands for "ethyl" and the "OH" represents the single oxygen atom bonded to one of the hydrogen atoms, ("hydroxy radical").  Ethanol is the variety of alcohol that has two carbon atoms. Two of ethanol's best known analogs are methyl alcohol (or methanol), commonly called "wood alcohol", and isopropyl alcohol (or isopropanol), also known as "rubbing alcohol". 
Session 2 – Detection and General Deterrence 
Ethanol Production -Fermentation 
Yeast combines with sugars from fruit or grains in a chemical reaction that results in ETOH 

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Standardized Field Sobriety Test Course 
Ethanol is what interests us because it is the kind of alcohol that features prominently in impaired driving.  Ethanol is beverage alcohol, the active ingredient in beer, wine, whiskey, liquors, etc. Ethanol production starts with fermentation. That is a kind of decomposition in which the sugars in fruit, grains and other organic materials combine with yeast to product the chemical we call ethanol. This can occur naturally, as yeast spores in the air come into contact with decomposing fruit and grains.  However, most of the ethanol in the world didn't ferment naturally, but was produced under human supervision. 
When an alcoholic beverage is produced by fermentation, the maximum ethanol content that can be reached is about 14 %. At that concentration, the yeast dies, so the fermentation stops.  Obtaining a higher ethanol content requires a process called distillation. This involves heating the beverage until the ethanol "boils off", then 
HS 178 R5/13 
collecting the ethanol vapor.  It is possible to do this because ethanol boils at a lower temperature than does water. 

Distilled spirits is the name we give to high ethanol concentration beverages produced by distillation. These include rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. The ethanol concentration of distilled spirits usually is expressed in terms of proof, which is a number corresponding to twice the ethanol percentage. 

For example, an 80 proof beverage has an ethanol concentration of 40 %. 

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