Laws and Legislation of alcohol

There are many laws put into force in order to reduce alcohol abuse. The following are the main objectives of the laws against alcohol:

  • protect children under 18s
  • prevent accidents from drink-driving
  • reduce crime and social disorders
  • improve health of general public

It is strictly against the law to give alcohol to children under 5 years old. The legal age at which someone can  buy drink is 18 and any one looking under 21 or 18 will be asked to present a acceptable proof of age. 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to drink alcohol like beer, cider and wine but only in company of an adult. If minors are caught consuming alcohol, police have the power to confiscate the drink and persistent act may lead to a police record which may affect their future.

There are consequences for drink-driving as well. if suspected, the driver may be required to provide specimen like breathe, blood or urine for analysis of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). if the limit has been exceeded, depending on the situation, the driver may sentenced to imprisonment of upto six months and 14 years if death occurs due to accident, unlimited fine and ban from driving for upto a year.


The Crown Prosecution Service, (2016). Licensing of Alcohol. Available from, (2015). The law on alcohol and under 18s. Available from

Alcohol Education Trust, (2016). The law and underage drinking. Available from, (2015). Drink-driving penalties. Available from

Effects of alcohol abuse

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol found in the blood stream and reported as weight of ethanol in grams per unit of blood volume. The table below shows how different concentration of alcohol in our body affects us.

Table 1. Shows stages of alcohol intoxication. Source:

Moderate consumption of alcohol is known to be therapeutic for example decrease the risk of heart disease and the cleansing and flushing out of the kidneys. Alcohol abuse can cause acute or chronic effects depending on how dependent an individual is on alcohol. Acute effects are associated with domestic violence, loss of workplace productivity, society crime, traffic accidents and public disorders. Chronic effects are related to chronic health problems like cancer, liver disease, stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes and bone disease (Manzo-Avalos and Saavedra-Molina, 2010).



Metabolism of alcohol continue…

Alcohol can be metabolised by both oxidative and non-oxidative pathways. Oxidative pathway involves the three enzymes (ADH, cytochrome P450 and catalase enzyme) mentioned in the previous post and the diagram as well. The products of this pathway are Acetaldehyde and Acetate both of which are toxic to cells and tissues. Acetaldedhye is further metabolised to acetate and NADH by ALDH2 as it is shown in the diagram (refer to previous post). Acetate is then oxidised to carbon dioxide (CO2) in the liver, heart, brain an skeletal muscle.

Non-oxidative pathway:

Ethanol is nonoxidatively metabolized by two pathways
Fig 2. Non-oxidative pathway of alcohol metabolism by human body. source

The by-products of this pathway are fatty acid esters (FAEEs) by FAEE synthease and phosphatidyl ethanol by phospholipase D.

The metabolism pathways provided here are just a quick outline of how alcohol is metabolised. I will post more on how these by-products harm human tissues.




Routes of Ingestion and Metabolism of Alcohol

Alcohol is normally ingested by drinking it. But there are other routes of alcohol ingestion as mentioned in HAMs which are as follows:

  • inhalation: vaporised alcohol can be inhales and lead to intoxication 10 times faster than drinking.
  • transdermal: this is a slow method and the alcohol is absorbed through the skin.
  • Alcohol enema and injection: these two methods are extremely dangerous as alcohol is rapidly absorbed. the risk of alcohol poisoning is very high.

When orally ingested, alcohol passes through the gastrointestinal tract. it is absorbed primarily from the small intestine into the veins collecting blood from the stomach, bowels and the portal vein. Through the portal vein it enters the liver where it is metabolised by the enzymes (Zakhari, N.D). Liver is the main organ where metabolism occurs while stomach also helps.

alcohol metabolism
Fig.1 Metabolism of alcohol (Oxidative pathway) by three enzymes- Alcohol dehydrogenase, cytochrome P450 and catalase. (Source of image:


Medical consequences of alcohol abuse

Alcohol is one of the oldest drugs known and very easily available. Alcohol transports to all parts of the human body from digestive tracts via the blood vessels. It affects every organs of the body including the brains. While controlled or small quantity consumption may not affect the health and instead help improve health, excessive alcohol intake cause various tissue injuries, interfere with hormonal and biochemical regulations of cells and metabolic functions. Alcohol interrupts the neurotransmitter and the receptors.

The following are some medical consequences of alcohol abuse:

  • Accidental injuries
  • skeletal syste
  • gastrointestinal system
  • hepatic system
  • cardiovascular system



Alcohol- toxicology case study

Alcohol is an organic compound  hydroxyl functional group attached to a saturated carbon molecules. There are different types of alcohol e.g. isopropyl, methyl, ethanol and butyl alcohol. Alcohol term is generally referred to ethanol/ ethyl alcohol. Ethanol has been consumed in diluted concentration for so many generations. other types of alcohols are not consumed as they are know to be toxic even in very small  quantity. Other alcohols are used in chemistry labs and industrial products like lotions, cleaning products and sanitisers.

Beverages that mix alcohol are wines, beer, whisky, Brandy, Gin and Liqueurs. Alcohols are consumed in almost all parts of the world and has been a part of  culture and traditions in many social groups. However, alcohol also has medical consequences and has been increasing over years.

In my upcoming posts I will be researching how alcohol is metabolized by human body and its effects.


week 11:Results of re-analysis of Quanterness

Crozier (2014) re-assessed the Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) for the Quanterness skeletal remains which was originally calculated as 157 individuals (refer to week 7) by Chesterman in 1983. The recalculation of MNI by Crozier in 2012 as mentioned in the chapter ‘Exceptional or conventional? social identity within the chamber tomb of Quanterness, Orkney’ (Ginn et al 2014), resulted in the reduction of MNI to 59 individuals and similarly the MNI of Isbister tomb was also reduced to 85 from approximately 341.

The re-analysis of the Quanterness tomb has also provided evidence for absence of differential burials in terms of age and sex. Crozier has mentioned that there was no record of neonates buried in the original assessment  by Chesterman. The MNI figures does not represent true population or number of individuals as there could have been bones missing, highly decayed and also the analytical techniques in the  past were not as advanced and accurate as at present.


Ginn, V., Enlander, R., and Crozier,R. (2014). Exploring Prehistoric Identity in Europe: Our Construct or Theirs?Themes from the Ancient Near East BANEA Publication Series. 3. Available from,J.T.+1979+investigation+of+the+human+bones+from+quanterness&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q=chesterman%2CJ.T.%201979%20investigation%20of%20the%20human%20bones%20from%20quanterness&f=false [Accessed 30/12/2015]


Week 10: Animal totems

As mentioned in the post of week 6, there are two type of tombs: Orkney-Cromarty and Maeshowe. In both types of tombs, along with human remains, animal bones were also recovered. The animal bones were of domestic animals mostly which included cattle, sheep and small horses. The animals could have been ceremonial offerings or remains of ritual feasts. However, some species of animal bones were found to be offered at particular tombs and not commonly found in the other tombs like the domestic animals’. Some examples of such animals are, burial of complete carcasses of sea-eagles in the Isbister tomb, 36 red deer bones in Knowe of Yarso tomb, 24 dog skulls in Cuween Hill Cairn and otter bones in the tomb of the otters (Wickham-Jones, C.,2013). It is evident from this that during the Neolithic period certain animals were regarded as totem animals and may have represented certain tribes in that period.


Odyssey adventures in archaeology (2012). Megalithic tombs of Orkney. Available from

Wickham-Jones, C. (2013). Orkney A Historical Guide. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Birlinn limited.

Week 9

By analysing non-metrical data from the two tribes, Bacon has suggested absence of any kind of family relationship between the two tribes. Bacon has taken the lower part of the tibia of the bones from the Isbister, Quanterness and also present day adult amputaions, and compare them with one another. This comparison allowed them to get an idea about how the lifestyle in the Neolithic is different to the modern days which is mentioned in the previous post. Figure 1 in the article “The dependence of human bone texture on life style” by Bacon, G.E. shows the difference in tibia in between the two tribes and also present day humans. He has looked at the radial distance of the tibia from which he studied the ability of the bones to withstand stress in the chosen direction for the 12 individuals in total.


They were also able to estimate the life expectancy during the Neolithic era as around 28 years which now, in the modern day is above 80 years of age for healthy individuals.


Bacon, G.E. (1990). The dependence of human bone texture on life style. Great Britain, 240, 363-370. Available from



Week 8: Comparison of bones of Isbister and Quanterness

In 1989 Bacon,G. E. compared two neolithic tribes using human bones from the Isbister tomb and the Quanterness tomb. He used Neutron diffraction method, application of neutron scattering to determine the atomic and magnetic structure of a material.  This technique was used to determine the orientation of the hydroxyapatite crystals at the lower front edge of the tibia in this study (Bacon, 1990). Hydroxyapatite crystals are inorganic mineral which includes calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, calcium fluoride, calcium hydroxide and citrate and makes up about 70% of the bone (Petchey, no date).

According to Bacon, a  macroscopic study carried out by Chesterman, J.T. in 1981 suggested that people from the isbister tribe were muscular (both sexes), ankle joints had suffered much hard work carrying, pushing or pulling loads uphill. In the study, 57 out of 88 tibia from the isbister tomb showed ‘Squatting facet’ which indicated muscular effort and increased mobility of the joint. Depression of skull bones were also found which could have been due to bearing weight from a strap or rope over the head.

Unlike the Isbister tomb, the bones in the Quanterness showed no muscular development and only 1 squatting facet on an adult tibia was found. No skull depressions were found in the skulls from Quanterness.

The differences could be due to the geographical area the two tribes lived in. Isbister is located in the hilly area thus pulling of loads, climbing of hills resulted in more muscular work. Whereas the Quanterness is at ground level sloping gently to the sea.

I will provide more information of the conclusion and methods used for comparison and study of the bones from the tombs in next few weeks. I will also try to find articles that I can access as most of the articles were not accessible.


Bacon, G.E. (1990). The dependence of human bone texture on life style. Great Britain, 240, 363-370. Available from

Petchey, F. (no date). Bone. Available from