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EtOH medical / nursing abbreviation term, meaning, & definition

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 4, 2024 (Originally Published)

July 20, 2024 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

EtOH is a common medical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol. Also known as ethanol, EtOH is a scientific descriptor for drinking alcohol.

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Other terms used for EtOH include:

  • Alcohol
  • Grain alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol

Alcohol may be legal and socially acceptable when consumed in moderation, but it is also the most abused of all addictive substances in the U.S.  Luckily addiction treatment is available.

EtOH is a depressant of the CNS (central nervous system) that can trigger sleepiness, sickness, disorientation, and confusion in the event of EtOH abuse or in episodes of binge drinking. If EtOH overdose (alcohol poisoning) occurs, this can be life-threatening.

EtOH abuse is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, so what is ethanol alcohol exactly?

What is The Meaning of Ethyl Alcohol and EtOH?

So what does EtOH stand for? Ethyl alcohol is simply a shortened version of the term “ethanol”.

It is also known as etoh (medical term), meaning alcohol as well just as a shortened version of ethanol. The etoh medical abbreviation is commonly used in medical settings.

There is a common misconception that etoh stands for a series of terms, however it is only a shortened version of ethanol as mentioned before. 

So other than the EtOH medical abbreviation, what is EtOH?

What is EtOH?

The EtOH meaning comes from the abbreviated chemical term for ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the colorless substance present in alcohol beverages like wine, beer, or distilled spirits.

If the term is used in a clinical, academic, or research setting, the abbreviation EtOH is often used for expediency.

Ethyl alcohol is mainly found as the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic drinks.

There are many other names for ethanol, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Grain alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol
So now that we’ve answered what is EtOH, let’s look at: what is the EtOH medical meaning?

What is EtOH in Medical Terms?

EtOH is the medical abbreviation for Ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. In medical terms, EtOH refers to the consumption or presence of ethanol in the body. 

Using this term for alcohol is commonly used in medical contexts such as blood tests, where the level of ethanol may be measured to determine intoxication or alcohol-related health conditions. Ethanol is known in clinical settings as a psychoactive substance that can affect the central nervous system, leading to altered cognition, impaired coordination, and potential health risks. During medical assessments, monitoring EtOH levels is crucial in assessing a patient’s alcohol intake and its impact on their health and well-being.

an image of a woman looking out a window representing etoh addiction.

What is Ethanol Use Disorder?

Ethanol Use Disorder (also known as ETOH Use Disorder) is the same thing as Alcohol Use Disorder, just under a different name. It is known sometimes as an alcoholic abbreviation. 

This disorder occurs when an individual begins to develop dependency on alcohol (ethanol).  If someone is unable to stop drinking even when it begins to affect their daily life, this is a good sign that Ethanol Use Disorder is present. 

Ethanol Abuse Symptoms

Consuming ethanol in large quantities can lead to ethanol abuse, dependence, or addiction. Some symptoms of ethanol abuse include:

  • Difficulty restricting the amount you drink
  • Trying to quit and being unsuccessful in staying sober
  • Spending a large portion of your day engaging in ethanol consumption
  • Experiencing strong cravings for ethanol
  • Personal and work life is affected
  • Needing to drink more and more as tolerance builds
  • Experiencing ethanol withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking

Etoh Medication

Etoh medication is the same as alcoholic medication, just under a different name. The term Etoh (medical abbreviation) refers to ethanol alcohol. Some common medications that can be used to combat alcohol addiction include:

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Naltrexone (ReVia)
  • Naltrexone injection (Vivitrol)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)

Types of Ethanol Alcohol

Among the many types of alcohol intended for human consumption, the most popular are as follows:

  • Wine
  • Malt liquor
  • Beer
  • Distilled spirits
  • Grain alcohol

These types of EtOH vary in potency. Beer is typically the weakest alcoholic beverage, with distilled spirits and grain alcohol the strongest.

Is Ethanol in Alcohol?

Many people confuse ethanol and alcohol, thinking that they are different substances. However, ethanol isn’t just in alcohol, it is alcohol. 

Ethanol is a more scientific way to describe the intoxicating agent in alcoholic beverages. 

So what is EtOH abuse?

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What is EtOH Abuse?

Alcohol abuse, also known as EtOH abuse can involve:

  • Heavy drinking: If a man consumes more than 14 standard drinks weekly or a woman consumes more than eight standard drinks weekly, this is classified as heavy drinking by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • Binge drinking: When a man drinks more than five alcoholic beverages in two hours or a woman drinks more than four drinks in the same period, this is known as binge drinking.
  • Alcohol use disorder: When addiction to alcohol develops, this is a chronic and relapsing condition clinically termed AUD (alcohol use disorder).

Any abuse of EtOH can provoke a variety of adverse health outcomes. These issues can be short-term and long-term, affecting your physical and mental health. In the worst scenario, unchecked EtOH abuse can be life-threatening.

Among the more severe effects of EtOH abuse are the following negative health outcomes:

  • Increased risk of some cancers (breast, liver, colon, esophagus).
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Liver damage.
  • Bleeding from the esophagus.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular issues.

In addition to these long-term health risks, the abuse of EtOH can increase your risk of:

  • Slips and falls.
  • Motor vehicle collisions.
  • Assaults.
  • Accidents when operating heavy machinery.
  • Violent or aggressive outbursts.
  • EtOH overdose (alcohol poisoning).

In the most acutely damaging scenario, EtOH abuse triggers the development of alcoholism (the informal term for alcohol use disorder).

Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed based on the number of criteria present in DSM-5-TR (the fifth and most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

These criteria are:

  1. Frequently drinking more alcohol than intended or drinking for longer than planned.
  2. Inability to control or discontinue use.
  3. Spending less time on previously favored activities.
  4. Experiencing problems at home, work, and school due to EtOH abuse.
  5. Devoting lots of time to drinking and recovering from the effects of EtOH abuse.
  6. Cravings for alcohol manifesting.
  7. Tolerance to alcohol building so that more is required to achieve the same effects.
  8. Engaging in risky behaviors and drinking in potentially dangerous situations.
  9. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off.
  10. Continuing to drink alcohol even though EtOH abuse is causing or inflaming a health condition, either physical or mental.
  11. Neglecting your personal and professional commitments due to EtOH abuse.

AUD is diagnosed according to the number of criteria present in a 12-month period:

  • Mild alcohol use disorder: 2 to 3 criteria
  • Moderate alcohol use disorder: 4 to 5 criteria
  • Severe alcohol use disorder: 6 criteria or more

An image of a woman wondering about Etoh abuse

EtOH Effects on the Body

Consuming any amount of EtOH triggers many immediate short-term effects. The presentation and intensity of the effects will differ according to the extent of intoxication.

The effects prompted by small quantities of EtOH are seldom dangerous, but the more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk of experiencing severe and adverse side effects, both short and long-term.

Consuming small quantities of EtOH can trigger these immediate physical effects:

  • Dulled reflexes
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slower reaction times

Consuming moderate quantities of EtOH normally intensifies those physical effects, leading to:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sleepiness
  • Vision problems
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased urination

Consuming large quantities of EtOH brings about the most severe and potentially damaging side effects, such as:

  • Irregular breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Unconsciousness
  • EtOH overdose (alcohol poisoning)
  • Coma
  • Seizure
  • Death

Research indicates that alcohol use disorder is associated with these mental health disorders:

  • GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Schizophrenia

These mental health conditions may present separately from alcohol use disorder, or the conditions may co-occur. Dual diagnosis is most effectively treated with coordinated interventions targeting both conditions simultaneously.

EtOH abuse can contribute to hundreds of health conditions and diseases. According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), over 52,000 people in the U.S. died of alcohol-related causes in 2021.

Among the most serious physical outcomes of this type of substance abuse is liver disease.

The long-term abuse of EtOH can cause:

  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fatty liver
  • Cirrhosis
  • Fibrosis
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatitis

Long-term EtOH abuse will also increase your risk profile for developing GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Over time, abusing EtOH can also trigger issues with the regulation of blood sugar in the body, according to reports from NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

Is Ethanol a Depressant?

Yes, Ethanol is a depressant. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that causes parts of the brain to slow down their typical function. 


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Alcohol Rehab Options

Many people struggle with abusing EtOH, meaning that they are likely experiencing an alcohol addiction. If you’re ready to seek help for alcohol addiction and learn how to quit drinking, Renaissance Recovery near Huntington Beach offers several options:

  • Outpatient alcohol rehab: Suitable for mild alcohol addictions, though those with severe alcoholism may find it lacking in support and structure.
  • Intensive outpatient alcohol rehab: A more intensive form of outpatient treatment, bridging the gap between inpatient and outpatient care. Programs like IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) are commonly offered.
  • Virtual alcohol rehab: For those unable or unwilling to attend in-person treatment, virtual therapy sessions via platforms like Skype offer remote access to treatment.

Regardless of the method chosen, you’ll have access to the same services and interventions. Before starting a treatment program, detox is necessary. A supervised medical detox helps minimize complications.

After detox, you’ll enter a personalized treatment program that may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): Effective during detox and ongoing treatment.
  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is proven effective and can be used alone or alongside MAT.
  • Counseling: Both individual and group counseling offer unique benefits.
  • Family therapy: Helps repair relationships damaged by alcohol abuse.
  • Holistic therapies: Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga can complement traditional treatments.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, call us today at 866.330.9449 to begin your journey to recovery.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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