Ethanol is probably the most commonly used recreational drug worldwide. Taken orally, alcohol is absorbed from the GI tract by diffusion and is rapidly distributed throughout the body in the blood before entering tissues by diffusion. Ethanol is metabolized to acetaldehyde mainly in the stomach and liver. Acetaldehyde is highly toxic and binds cellular constituents, generating harmful acet-aldehyde adducts. Acetaldehyde is further oxidized to acetate, but the fate of acetate and its role in the effects of ethanol are much less clear. Ethanol and the products of its metabolism affect nearly every cellular structure or function and are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality.

See also: Alcohol: Disease Risk and Beneficial Effects; Effects of Consumption on Diet and Nutritional Status. Liver Disorders.

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