AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on July 31, 2023
8 min read

EtOH (Ethanol)

EtOH (Ethanol) Definition

The term EtOH is the chemical abbreviation or acronym. Scientific and medical professionals use EtOH to describe the compound for ethanol. Ethanol is the form of alcohol used in alcoholic beverages. 

EtOH is also used as:

  • A solvent in industrial and consumer products
  • The primary ingredient in cleaning solutions
  • An antidote (commonly prescribed by healthcare professionals)

EtOH can refer to alcoholic beverages, especially those distilled from grain substances. Grain alcohol does not only mean ethanol produced from grain. People may interchange the name with moonshine to describe alcohol that is 90% (or more) pure. 

Using “EtOH” in Medical Terms

Nurses and other medical professionals also use EtOH when describing a patient. This can be used on a medical chart or a hospital bill.

For instance, “EtOH on Board” or “positive EtOH” can indicate an intoxicated patient.

Other medical terms that use EtOH include EtOH test, EtOH use, and EtOH withdrawal. Using EtOh in these terms refers to ethyl alcohol. 


Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

online consultation

Can You Drink Pure EtOH?

Different industrial products and alcoholic drinks like moonshine have high-proof ethanol. That type of EtOH is pure or closer to pure than that found in other substances.

However, drinking pure ethyl alcohol, especially fuel, poses dangerous health risks. The alcohol content can be twice the amount in typical liquors like rum.

People drinking pure EtOH won't need to consume much before blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels rise and alcohol effects occur. They can experience alcohol poisoning and other serious side effects if not careful. 

Pure ethanol fuel may also contain other harmful chemicals. Ethanol-based cleaning products may have denaturants (ex: bitter flavoring) to make the alcohol unsuitable for drinking.

Alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion in 2010.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

How Ethanol Affects the Body

Ethanol has multiple harmful effects on the body. It affects the central nervous system (CNS), liver, and pancreas.

The effects of alcohol can become even more dangerous when people consume too much ethanol over an extended period. 

Liver Damage

The liver helps metabolize ethanol. The hepatic organ breaks down the substance into acetaldehyde, a highly toxic compound, and converts it into an acetate byproduct.

In normal and healthy processes, there is no significant health problem.

However, chronic ethanol overexposure may contribute to a build-up of acetaldehyde, resulting in organ damage and liver cirrhosis (improper functioning due to massive scarring). 

In more severe cases, such liver damage can lead to death.

Pancreatic Inflammation

Inflammation of the pancreas is also possible. Chronic ethanol exposure can affect pancreas functioning, which then changes insulin production and increases the risk of diabetes

Brain Damage

Similarly, chronic ethanol overexposure can affect the neurotransmitter networks of the brain. These networks comprise proteins, receptions, signaling pathways, and more.

For this reason, it is not uncommon to see behavioral impairment in those suffering from chronic alcoholism. 

It's thought that even alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the CNS) results from chronic ethanol use. Ethanol, in general, is neurotoxic and can affect cognitive functions negatively.

It's estimated that 10% to 24% of all cases of dementia are alcohol-related. 

Immune System Damage

Finally, acute (short-term) and chronic ethanol exposure inhibit an immune response (including antibodies and lymphocytes).  

As a result, the body will have a more difficult time defending against harmful viral particles. This increases the risk of contracting severe diseases.


BetterHelp can Help

They’ll connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo

Signs of EtOH Abuse (Alcohol Addiction)

Chronic ethanol exposure can also lead to EtOH abuse.

EtOh abuse or alcohol addiction shares characteristics found in opioid addictions that include the risk of binge or heavy drinking, followed by withdrawal.

People may return to drinking alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Irritability and confusion
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Hallucinations that can be tactile, auditory, or visual
  • Intense cravings 

Because cravings are intense, it can be difficult for these people to maintain abstinence. 

Similarly, those who suffer from EtOH abuse may partake in excessive drinking activities, such as:

  • Binge drinking — when someone consumes a lot of alcohol quickly to get a BAC of at least 0.08%. This is 4 to 5 drinks per hour for men and women.
  • Heavy drinking — five or more instances of binge drinking in a month. This is usually 15 or more drinks per week for men; 8 or more weekly for women.

People abusing EtOH have an increased risk of overdose or alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

Risks of EtOH Abuse

Aside from the effects of EtOH use on physical health, abuse can also affect a person’s decision-making skills. This causes them to make unsafe and risky decisions while under the influence.

Chronic EtOH exposure can influence a person to:

  • Get into fights or engage in criminal activity
  • Take drugs
  • Have unprotected sex
  • Get behind the wheel while intoxicated
  • Lose control over money management

Thinking about Getting Help?

BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Better Help Logo

How to Diagnose a Drinking Problem

If you're wondering if you or someone you know has a drinking problem, you can use this list of symptoms for a quick self-diagnosis.

This is taken from the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders):

  • Drinking more or for longer than was intended
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop alcohol use
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol consumption
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home due to drinking alcohol
  • Continuing to drink despite having social problems caused by the effects of alcohol
  • Important social, work, or recreational activities are stopped or reduced because of alcohol use
  • Drinking in physically dangerous situations
  • Continuing to drink even though it is known to have negative effects on your health
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol
  • Having withdrawal symptoms after stopping alcohol use

According to the DSM-V:

  • 2 to 3 symptoms is considered mild
  • 4 to 5 symptoms is considered moderate
  • 6 or more symptoms is considered severe

Remember, self-diagnosis is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or someone you know is having trouble with alcohol abuse, the first step is to talk with a professional. Reach out to an addiction specialist to review your options.

EtOH Addiction Treatment Options

If you or a loved one is suffering from an EtOH addiction, a range of options and resources are available to help with recovery. The following is a list of choices:

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center. These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring.

The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced.

These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer. Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are sometimes referred to as intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). Compared to inpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs provide similar services.

However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program. PHPs accept new patients and people who have completed an inpatient program and still need intensive treatment.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient or partial hospitalization programs. These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule.

The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment. They're best for people who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school.

Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program.

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

Sometimes, medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment. Some medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal. Others can help you reduce cravings and normalize body functions.

The most common medications used to treat AUD are:

When combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) are open to anyone with a substance abuse problem. They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober.


EtOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol. Chronic EtOH use can result in different health and mental problems, including alcohol abuse. If you know someone suffering from alcohol abuse, different treatment options can help them recover.

Ethanol FAQs

What is an EtOH test?

An EtOH test checks the amount of ethanol in the blood and the degree of intoxication. It may help diagnose alcoholism in those with tolerance to ethanol. These people may require higher levels of ethanol to experience the substance’s effects.

What is a normal EtOH level?

Blood ethanol levels above 30 mg/dl (>0.03%) generally indicate that someone consumed an alcoholic beverage. An EtOH test can detect ethanol in blood at concentrations beginning at 10 mg/dL (0.01%).

Is EtOH an acid or base?

EtOH (ethanol) is a very weak acidic substance. 

Updated on July 31, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2020.
  2. Ethanol Uses, Benefits, and Chemical Safety Facts.”, 2020.
  3. Strohm, B. “Ethanol.” Encyclopedia of Toxicology (Third Edition), Academic Press, 2014.
  4. Lovinger D.M., Roberto M. "Synaptic Effects Induced by Alcohol." In: Sommer W., Spanagel R. (eds) Behavioral Neurobiology of Alcohol Addiction. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, 2011.
  5. H. Jacob Hanchar, et al. "Ethanol potently and competitively inhibits binding of the alcohol antagonist Ro15-4513 to α4/6β3δ GABAA receptors," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006.
  6. Lorenzo, Patricia M. Di, et al. “Neural and Behavioral Responsivity to Ethyl Alcohol as a Tastant.” Wiley Online Library, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2003.
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
© 2024 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
Back to top icon
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram