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Alcohol Abuse Essay, Research Paper

Alcohol is liquid distilled product of fermented fruits, grains and vegetables

used as solvent, antiseptic and sedative moderate potential for abuse. Possible

effects are intoxication, sensory alteration, and/or anxiety reduction. Symptoms

of overdose staggering, odor of alcohol on breath, loss of coordination, slurred

speech, dilated pupils, fetal alcohol syndrome (in babies), and/or nerve and

liver damage. Withdrawal Syndrome is first sweating, tremors, then altered

perception, followed by psychosis, fear, and finally auditory hallucinations.

Indications of possible mis-use are confusion, disorientation, loss of motor

nerve control, convulsions, shock, shallow respiration, involuntary defecation,

drowsiness, respiratory depression and possible death. Alcohol is also known as:

Booze, Juice, Brew, Vino, Sauce. You probably know why alcohol is abused some

reasons are relaxation, sociability, and cheap high. But did you know that

alcohol is a depressant that decreases the responses of the central nervous

system. Excessive drinking can cause liver damage and psychotic behavior. As

little as two beers or drinks can impair coordination and thinking. Alcohol is

often used by substance abusers to enhance the effects of other drugs. Alcohol

continues to be the most frequently abused substance among young adults. HERE

ARE SOME STRAIGHT FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL…. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem

drinking that results in health consequences, social, problems, or both.

However, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, refers to a disease that is

characterized by abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior that leads to impaired

control over drinking. Short-term effects of alcohol use include: -Distorted

vision, hearing, and coordination -Altered perceptions and emotions -Impaired

judgment -Bad breath; hangovers Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include:

-Loss of appetite -Vitamin deficiencies -Stomach ailments -Skin problems -Sexual

impotence -Liver damage -Heart and central nervous system damage -Memory loss

Here are some quick clues to know if I, or someone close, has a drinking

problem: -Inability to control drinking–it seems that regardless of what you

decide beforehand, you frequently wind up drunk -Using alcohol to escape

problems -A change in personality–turning from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde -A high

tolerance level–drinking just about everybody under the table

-Blackouts–sometimes not remembering what happened while drinking -Problems at

work or in school as a result of drinking -Concern shown by family and friends

about drinking If you have a drinking problem, or if you suspect you have a

drinking problem, there are many others out there like you, and there is help

available. You could talk to school counselor, a friend, or a parent. Excessive

alcohol consumption causes more than 100,000 deaths annually in the United

States, and although the number shows little sign of declining, the rate per

100,000 population has trended down since the early 1980s. Accidents, mostly due

to drunken driving, accounted for 24 percent of these deaths in 1992.

Alcohol-related homicide and suicide accounted for 11 and 8 percent

respectively. Certain types of cancer that are partly attributable to alcohol,

such as those of the esophagus, larynx, and oral cavity, contributed another 17

percent. About 9 percent is due to alcohol-related stroke. One of the most

important contributors to alcohol-related deaths is a group of 12 ailments

wholly caused by alcohol, among which alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and

alcohol dependence syndrome are the most important. These 12 ailments together

accounted for 18 percent of the total alcohol-related deaths in 1992. Mortality

due to the 12 causes rises steeply into late middle age range and then declines

markedly, with those 85 and over being at less than one-sixth the risk of 55 to

64-year olds. The most reliable data are for the 12 conditions wholly

attributable to alcohol. The map shows these data for all people 35 and over.

The geographical distribution for men and women follows much the same pattern,

although men are three times as likely to die of one of the 12 alcohol-induced

ailments. The geographical distribution for whites and blacks follows roughly

the same pattern but the rates for blacks are two and half times higher. In the

late nineteenth century blacks, who were then far more abstemious than whites,

were strong supporters of the temperance movement, but the movement in the South

was taken over by whites bent on disenfranchising black people by any means

possible, such as propagating lurid tales of drink-crazed black men raping white

women. Consequently, blacks became less involved in the temperance movement, a

trend that accelerated early in the twentieth century with the great migration

of blacks to the North, where liquor was freely available even during

Prohibition. The geographical pattern of mortality from the 12 conditions wholly

caused by alcohol is partly explained by the average alcohol consumption among

those who drink, which tends to be higher in the Southeast certain areas of the

West and than elsewhere. In New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and in many counties in

the Plains and Mountain states, the rates are high, in part, because of heavy

drinking among Native Americans. Another possible contributor to high rates in

the West is lower family and community support than elsewhere, as suggested by

high divorce and suicide rates, low church membership, and the large number of

migrants from other regions. In the South Atlantic states, black males

contribute heavily to the high mortality rates, although white rates there are

above average. One unexplained anomaly is the comparatively low rates in the

area stretching from Kentucky through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, to

Louisiana, all states with high alcohol consumption among those who drink. There

were at least four cycles of high alcohol consumption in the last 150 years with

peaks in the 1840s, in the 1860s, the first decade of the twentieth century, and

again in the 1970-1981 period. Each of these peaks was probably accompanied by

an increase in alcohol-related deaths, as suggested by the course of liver

cirrhosis mortality, which, since the early twentieth century, has followed

more-or-less the same trend as consumption of beverages alcohol. America is now

in a phase of declining alcohol consumption, so one would expect that the rate

of alcohol-related deaths would continue to decline. Among westernized

countries, America in the early 1990s was somewhat below average in both alcohol

consumption and liver cirrhosis mortality. If you have been arrested for DWI,

you may be court ordered to go to counseling for alcohol abuse. Does that mean

that you’re an alcoholic? Sometimes people get the idea that alcohol abuse and

alcoholism are the same thing. They are not. The National Council on Alcoholism

says, "Alcohol Abuse : a problem to solve. Alcoholism: a disease to

conquer." In case you have wondered what the difference is, here’s some

help: Alcohol Abuse is the misuse of the substance, alcohol. You know you are

abusing a substance when: -You continue to use it, even though you’re having

social or interpersonal problems because of your use. -You still use it even

though it’s causing you physical problems. -Using it the way you do is causing

you legal problems. -You don’t live up to major responsibilities on the job or

in your family. Alcoholism refers to being addicted, or dependent on alcohol.

You may be dependent on a substance if any three of the following are true: -You

must use larger and larger amounts of it to get high. -You have withdrawal when

you try to stop or cut down. -You use it much more and for longer times than you

really want to. -You can’t seem to cut back and feel a strong need or craving

for it. -You spend a lot of your time just getting the substance. -You’d rather

use than work or be with friends and family. -You keep using, no matter what.

The National Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates, based on

research, that a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) between .02 and .04 makes

your chances of being in a single-vehicle fatal crash 1.4 times higher than for

someone who has not had a drink. If your BAC is between .05 and .09, you are

11.1 times more likely to be in a fatal single vehicle crash, and 48 times more

likely at a BAC between .10 and .14. If you’ve got a BAC of .15, your risk of

being in a single-vehicle fatal crash is estimated to be 380 times higher than a

non-drinker’s. How much do you have to drink to get a BAC that high? A 160 pound

man will have a BAC of about .04, 1 hour after consuming two 12-ounce beers on

an empty stomach. Your BAC will depend on how much you weigh, how much you

drink, amount of time since your last drink and your gender. Women metabolize

alcohol differently from men, causing women to reach higher BAC’s at the same

doses. Recent research is showing that true substance dependence may be caused,

in part, by brain chemistry deficiences. That is one reason that substance

dependence is considered a disease. And, as with other diseases, there is the

possibility of taking medicine to get better. There is now promising evidence

that taking medicine can correct some of the deficiences that may cause drug

dependence. It is beginning to look like a combination of the right medicine

along with talking therapy and behavior therapy, will help us treat this disease

as we have never before been able to. One drug is Naltrexone, sometimes known as

ReVia. Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Desipramine (Norpramin) have also shown promise.

Alcohol abuse is also a serious medical and social problem, but is not the same

as alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is the intentional overuse of alcohol, i.e., to the

point of drunkenness. This includes occasional and celebratory over-drinking.

Not all people who abuse alcohol become alcoholics, but alcohol abuse by itself

can have serious medical effects. Overuse of alcohol is considered to be: -more

than 3-4 drinks per occasion for women -more than 4-5 drinks per occasion for

men. One drink equals one (12-ounce) bottle of beer or winecooler, one (5-ounce)

glass of wine, or one and a half ounces of liquor. Alcohol, probably the oldest

drug known, has been used at least since the earliest societies for which

records exist. Of the numerous types of alcohol, ethyl alcohol is the type

consumed in drinking. In its pure form it is a clear substance with little odor.

People drink alcohol in three main kinds of beverages: BEERS, which are made

from grain through brewing and fermentation and contain from 3% to 8% alcohol;

WINES, which are fermented from fruits such as grapes and contain from 8% to 12%

alcohol naturally, and up to 21% when fortified by adding alcohol; and distilled

beverages (spirits) such as WHISKEY, GIN, and VODKA, which on the average

contain from 40% to 50% alcohol. Drinkers may become addicted to any of these

beverages. Physical Effects of Alcohol The effects of alcohol on the human body

depend on the amount of alcohol in the blood (blood-alcohol concentration). This

varies with the rate of consumption and with the rate at which the drinker’s

physical system absorbs and metabolizes alcohol. The higher the alcohol content

of the beverage consumed, the more alcohol will enter the bloodstream. The

amount and type of food in the stomach also affect the absorption rate. Drinking

when the stomach is filled is less intoxicating than when it is empty; the foods

in the stomach, which contain fat and protein, delay alcohol absorption. Body

weight is also a factor; the heavier the person, the slower the absorption of

alcohol. After alcohol passes through the stomach, it is rapidly absorbed

through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream and carried to the

various organ systems of the body, where it is metabolized. Although small

amounts of alcohol are processed by the kidneys and secreted in the urine, and

other small amounts are processed through the lungs and exhaled in the breath,

most of the alcohol is metabolized by the liver. As the alcohol is metabolized,

it gives off heat. The body metabolizes alcohol at about the rate of

three-fourths of an ounce to one ounce of whiskey an hour. Technically it is

possible to drink at the same rate as the alcohol is being oxidized out of the

body. Most people, however, drink faster than this, and so the concentration of

alcohol in the bloodstream keeps rising. Alcohol begins to impair the brain’s

ability to function when the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.05%,

that is, 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 cubic centimeters of blood. Most state

traffic laws in the United States presume that a driver with a BAC of 0.10% is

intoxicated. With a concentration of 0.20% (a level obtained from drinking about

10 ounces of whiskey), a person has difficulty controlling the emotions and may

cry or laugh extensively. The person will experience a great deal of difficulty

in attempting to walk and will want to lie down. When the blood-alcohol content

reaches about 0.30%, which can be attained when a person rapidly drinks about a

pint of whiskey, the drinker will have trouble comprehending and may become

unconscious. At levels from 0.35% to 0.50%, the brain centers that control

breathing and heart action are affected; concentrations above 0.50% may cause

death, although a person generally becomes unconscious before absorbing a lethal

dosage. Moderate or temperate use of alcohol is not harmful, but excessive or

heavy drinking is associated with alcoholism and numerous other health problems.

The effects of excessive drinking on major organ systems of the human body are

cumulative and become evident after heavy, continuous drinking or after

intermittent drinking over a period of time that may range from 5 to 30 years.

The parts of the body most affected by heavy drinking are the digestive and

nervous systems. Digestive-system disorders that may be related to heavy

drinking include cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus; gastritis; ulcers;

cirrhosis of the liver; and inflammation of the pancreas. Disorders of the

nervous system can include neuritis, lapse of memory (blackouts),

hallucinations, and extreme tremor as found in delirium tremens. Delirium

tremens ("the DTs") may occur when a person stops drinking after a

period of heavy, continuous imbibing. Permanent damage to the brain and central

nervous system may also result, including Korsakoff psychosis and Wernicke’s

disease. Recent evidence indicates that pregnant women who drink heavily may

give birth to infants with the FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME, which is characterized by

face and body abnormalities and, in some cases, impaired intellectual

facilities. Additionally, the combination of alcohol and drugs, such as commonly

used sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antibiotics, and aspirin, can be fatal, even

when both are taken in nonlethal doses. Many studies have been made of attitudes

toward drinking in different societies. Every culture has its own general ethos

or sense of decorum about the use and role of alcoholic beverages within its

social structure. In some cultures drinking is either forbidden or frowned upon.

The Koran contains prohibitions against drinking, and Muslims are forbidden to

sell or serve alcoholic beverages. Hindus take a negative view of the use of

alcohol; this is reflected in the constitution of India, which requires every

state to work toward the prohibition of alcohol except for medicinal purposes.

Abstinence from alcohol has also been the goal of temperance movements in Europe

and the United States. Some Christian religious groups strongly urge abstinence,

including the Christian Scientists, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists,

Pentecostalists, and some Baptists and Methodists. In some ambivalent cultures,

such as the United States and Ireland, the values of those who believe in

abstinence conflict with the values of those who regard moderate drinking as a

way of being hospitable and sociable. This accounts for the plethora of laws and

regulations that restrict the buying of alcoholic beverages. Some psychologists

say that this ambivalence in the culture makes it harder for some people to

develop a stable attitude toward drinking. Some cultures have a permissive

attitude toward drinking, including those of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, and

Israel. The proportion of Jews and Italians who use alcohol is high, but the

rates of alcoholism among them are lower than in Irish and Scandinavian groups.

Some cultures may be said to look too favorably upon drinking, as do the French.

In France the heavy consumption of alcohol has been related to the fact that

many people are engaged in viticulture and in the production and distribution of

alcoholic beverages. Various surveys indicate that subgroups within a society or

culture do not all have the same attitudes toward alcoholic beverages or the

same drinking patterns. Drinking behavior differs significantly among groups of

different age, sex, social class, racial status, ethnic background, occupational

status, religious affiliation, and regional location.


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