Small quantities promote sociability and well-being, and may bring certain health benefits. People who take one or two drinks per day have been held to suffer less coronary heart disease and have a lower all-cause mortality rate than non-drinkers. However, the epidemiological evidence for this possibly attractive proposition remains conflicting. Higher consumption, whether on a long-term regular basis or in the form of acute drunkenness, can have many damaging effects.
Damage may result from direct toxicity of ethanol, or from associated phenomena including vitamin B deficiency, hypoglycaemia, dehydration, alcohol withdrawal, toxic congeners (other substances present in alcoholic drinks), and trauma sustained during intoxication.
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