Alcohol, Chemistry and You
Dr. Bill Boggan


Most of us like to drink a beer to cool off, party, put down a shot of liquor, enjoy ourselves with a drink. The alcohol makes us feel good, loosens us up and is a lot of fun.

But lurking in the background for some is the fact that alcohol is dangerous and addicting and the over consumption of the person with the disease of alcoholism leads to erratic behavior and loss of health and wealth.

This unit looks at the chemistry of beverage alcohol (ethyl alcohol) through the eyes of a General Chemistry student.

The molecular shape and structure of ethyl alcohol gives it water and fat solubility, makes it a fuel that the body oxidizes in the liver, and we now know that alcohol participates in modifying critical pathways in our brain chemistry.

Follow the pathways on the concept map below, or study through the units in numerical sequence to learn about "Ethyl Alcohol, Chemistry and You".

Become involved in the problems of alcohol through the Case Study.

1. Introduction:
We encounter ethyl alcohol everywhere

and we understand that

2. Ethyl Alcohol - What is it?
Beverage ethanol is only one of many alcohols

that has

3. Ethyl Alcohol - Sources and Uses:
Multiple sources and many uses

when we drink ethyl alcohol

5. Distribution of Ethyl Alcohol
It passes to all our organs

and the ethyl alcohol

4. Absorbtion of Ethyl Alcohol:
It is quickly absobed into our systems


6: Metabolism of Ethyl Alcohol:
Ethyl alcohol oxidizes slowly

but not before

7: Effects on Organ Function:
Alterations in system behaviors


8. Maternal Drinking and Child Development:
Potential for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

sometimes leading to



13. Early Research about Alcohol and the Brain:
A more global, earlier set of hypotheses than in
unit 7

also explained by

11. Alcohol Addiction:
the disease of alcoholism
  9. Effect of Alcohol on Sleep:
Disruption of normal sleep

bringing us to


defined as



14. Case Study:
Chemistry and society interact in the case of alcoholic behavior
  12: Definitions of Substance Use, Abuse and Dependence   10: Effect of Alcohol on the Cardiovascular System:
Beneficial and dangerous vascular effects


©2003 Kennesaw State University
Principal Investigator Laurence Peterson
Project Director Matthew Hermes