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Where Did Alcohol Come From?

Alcohol is produced from barley, grapes, fruits, and yeasts. It’s unclear when alcohol was first made, or why, but many believe it originated in the Middle East. The production and sale of alcohol was banned in the 1920s and 1930s, but Prohibition was eventually repealed and there is no sign of a modern ban.

According to a Gallup poll produced in 2010, about 67 percent of American adults drink alcohol. The researchers report that this percentage of drinkers has remained remarkably stable since 1939, when the poll was first conducted. It might surprise you to learn, however, that the history of alcohol stretches back even further. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to determine exactly when human beings began experimenting with alcohol, as that use might have started long before people began keeping formal records of their habits and preferences.

*What, Exactly, Is Alcohol

Wine stewards, beer makers and whiskey aficionados use flowery terms to describe their drinks, but in essence, they are all discussing the same thing: decaying materials. Alcohol is made when materials such as barley, grapes or fruits are allowed to come into contact with yeasts. The yeast converts the sugar in the decaying materials into alcohol. This might make that martini seem slightly less appealing.

Early History of Alcohol

Alcohol production is commonly associated with the Middle East, and it might have occurred as early as 6000 BCE, according to an article produced by Loyola Marymount University. It’s not exactly clear why the practice began, but it is possible that early peoples were following the practices of their animals. If you’ve ever spent time on an orchard or in a vineyard, you may have seen swarms of birds eating fallen, fermented fruit. They seem uncoordinated, of course, but they’re also quite relaxed and willing to spend all day imbibing this fruit. Perhaps early people chose to do the same. Or, perhaps fermentation came about accidentally. Refrigeration was uncommon in these early times, and perhaps grains and fruits spoiled in the sun and people found a way to make use of the spoiled fruits.

*Common Dangers

Although alcohol use may have been around for decades, that doesn’t mean alcohol is safe for you to indulge in. Alcohol abuse has been associated with a variety of physical issues, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Stroke
  • Oral cancer
  • Esophageal cancer

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 20 to 40 percent of people in large, urban hospitals are there because of illnesses caused by, or made worse by, their alcohol consumption. It clear that alcohol abuse is dangerous.

Modern Use of Alcohol

In the 1920s and 1930s, the United States government experimented with the idea of banning the production and sale of alcohol. As we all know, Prohibition was designed to remove the scourge of alcohol forever, yet many people chose to drink illegally at home or in underground clubs and speakeasies. When the 18th Amendment was repealed, people kept on drinking and there seems to be no public support for a ban on alcohol products in modern times. In fact, some people are experimenting with making their own alcohol at home, just as their ancestors might have done during Prohibition.

If you are an alcohol drinker, you are tapping into a long line of others who drank in the past. However, this past isn’t full of only happy stories. Alcoholism can cause serious health issues, and severe drinking problems can ruin your credit, as well as your home life. If you have difficulty with drinking, or you know someone else who does, treatment can help. Alcoholism treatment helps people to understand the dangers of alcohol, and learn how to avoid drinking in the future.

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