Is Grain Alcohol Addictive?

Grain alcohol is a refined form of ethanol produced by distilling fermented grain. The ethanol itself is created through the fermentation of sugars by yeast in grain, before distillation is repeated. Due to its high amounts of alcohol concentration, grain alcohol is considered to be extremely dangerous and by extension, addictive. Any person who uses grain alcohol in excess is at risk of alcohol poisoning and other severe consequences. North Jersey Rehabs seeks to educate our current and prospective patients on the dangers of all substances, potential for addiction, and how you can overcome them with help from alcohol addiction treatment in New Jersey. In today’s topic of discussion, let’s answer the question—Is grain alcohol addictive?

How Is Grain Alcohol Made?

As previously stated, grain alcohol is a distilled neutral spirit made from fermenting grain. It’s the purified form of ethyl alcohol, which is also referred to as ethanol, neutral grain spirit, or rectified spirit. Manufacturers make it from a fermented mixture of corn, sugar, yeast, and water, in places like North America. But, aside from corn, other grains like wheat and rye are used. To produce grain alcohol, ethanol is first created by fermenting sugars in the grain using yeast. After this, the ethanol is repeatedly distilled to produce the product. The term “grain alcohol” denotes alcohol that is pure and high proof. 

 

Distilled alcoholic beverages like this are void of “gluten protein” irrespective of the starting material for the production. In its neat form, grain alcohol has a minimum of 95% ABV (alcohol by volume). This is equivalent to 190 proof. Aside from mixing it in well-known drinks like gin, whiskey, and rum, grain alcohol also has alternative uses. It can be used for industrial applications. The ethanol is strong enough to kill bacteria, so much so that it is used as an antiseptic agent or disinfectant. Additionally, it can function as a solvent and fuel. 

Can You Consume Grain Alcohol?

You shouldn’t drink pure grain alcohol. Doing so can lead to alcohol intoxication. The high content of alcohol can cause a rapid spike in blood alcohol levels, even in smaller quantities. Alcohol poisoning can lead to death, for anyone that is not careful. Everclear, a popular grain alcohol brand name, noted that the liquid product has a notorious reputation, due to the high alcohol content. A majority of consumers will not drink grain alcohol straight up in its pure form. A few drops of it is toxic. Instead, it’s cut down and used in mixed drinks.

Why Everclear Grain Alcohol Is Illegal In Many Places

Everclear is a 190 proof version of grain alcohol. It’s the popular brand name for ethyl alcohol and is 95% undiluted alcohol. For comparison, liquor like rum, vodka, and gin, only have an alcohol content between 20-40%. Because of the toxicity, Everclear is technically illegal in many places in the U.S. The following states do not permit its consumption:

  • Florida
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • North Carolina

According to an article published in the New York Times, only the 120 proof variation of Everclear alcohol is legal in California. At one point, there was an increased demand for the drink in Utah. This led to the state authorities to limit the purchase of the liquor to 1-2 bottles at a time. 

The Dangers Of Grain Alcohol

The FDA has enlisted ethanol as “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) substances. So does that mean it is safe to drink? Well, not exactly. Because of the toxic nature, neutral grain spirits like Everclear are not safe for consumption. Manufacturers suggested that the drink be considered an “unfinished ingredient” and should not be consumed undiluted. 

Below are some examples of what can occur when drinking it straight from the bottle:

  • Loss of physical and mental stability
  • The onset of confusion or delirium from taking just a few drops
  • You might pass out after taking a drink
  • It can lead to accidents when driving
  • It increases one’s susceptibility to liver disease
  • It can destroy the nerve tissues
  • Can cause brain damage, since it is a nervous system depressant
  • Can cause alcohol poisoning
  • Could lead to death

Grain Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse and the perennial patterns of drinking associated with it can also lead to dire problems in a person’s life. Alcohol abuse has a strong correlation with a myriad of mood disorders. Harmful drinking patterns can impact a person’s mental health, even aggravating certain mental health problems like anxiety, ADHD, and depression. Unfortunately, many can and will turn a blind eye to these ramifications. In college or party environments, a person may consume grain alcohol that has been mixed with other, high alcohol content drinks like “Jungle Juice”. Additionally, a person who is addicted to alcohol and already has a high tolerance may intentionally drink grain alcohol to increase the pleasurable effects. 

Alcohol Poisoning

Regular consumption of alcohol is considered socially acceptable by many. Yet, it should be understood that there is a fine line between “fun” levels of intoxication and alcohol poisoning. Many are unaware that alcohol poisoning is an acute overdose of alcohol. An alcohol overdose happens when a person’s body, more specifically, the liver, can no longer keep up with the amount of alcohol overwhelming the system. The liver can reasonably process about 1-2 alcohol drinks per hour. Grain alcohol is a far cry away from being classified as a “standard” drink. All it takes is a couple of shots of grain alcohol to feel the effects of intoxication. The excessive amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream causes impairments to both the nervous and respiratory systems, meaning these effects can be life-threatening. As this happens, the number of toxins produced from the metabolism of alcohol accumulates. When it’s severe enough, these effects can result in basic life support functions in a person’s body shutting down.

Much like drug overdoses, without immediate medical intervention, severe alcohol poisoning can be deadly. About 2200 people die every year from it. Even though this number is lower compared to some other illicit substances like opioids, it’s telling that fatalities from an alcohol overdose occur on a regular basis (further warranting the oversight of alcohol addiction treatment in New Jersey).

Getting Alcohol Addiction Treatment In New Jersey

North Jersey Rehabs offers comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment programs. Programs of this nature provide people with the opportunities to stay honed into their sobriety and heal from the destructive impacts that alcohol or grain alcohol has taken on their lives. If you or someone you know could benefit from alcohol addiction treatment in New Jersey, contact us today to learn what it takes to break free from the cycle of alcohol abuse.

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