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Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper
Alcohol is liquid distilled product of fermented fruits, grains and vegetables used as solvent, antiseptic and sedative for potential 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. Most people know why alcohol is abused some reasons are relaxation, sociability, and cheap high. Alcohol is a depressant that decreases the responses of the central nervous system. Alcoholism is a disease that has been destroying people?s lives mentally, physically and emotionally throughout the entire world since the early 18th century.
Sometimes people get the idea that alcohol abuse and alcoholism are the same thing. The National Council on Alcoholism says, “Alcohol Abuse: a problem to solve. Alcoholism: a disease to conquer.” Alcohol Abuse is the misuse of the substance, alcohol. You know you are abusing an alcohlic substance when: you continue to use it, even though you’re having social or personal 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 is being addicted, or dependent on alcohol. You may be dependent on alcohol if any three of the following are true: You have to use larger and larger amounts of it to get drunk. 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. 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.
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. Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem drinking that results in health consequences, social, problems, or both. However, alcoholism refers to a disease that is characterized by alcohol-seeking behavior that leads to the loss of control while drinking. Short-term effects of alcohol use include: distorted vision, hearing, and coordination. 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. Using alcohol to escape problems, a change in personality, turning from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde, a high tolerance level 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.
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. 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 is probably the oldest drug known and has been used since the early 1700?s societies. There are 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.
The effects of alcohol on the body depend on the amount of alcohol in the blood (blood-alcohol concentration). This changes with the rate of consumption and with the rate at which the drinker’s physical system absorbs 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 can also affect the absorption rate. Drinking when the stomach is filled is less intoxicating than when it is empty. 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 quickly absorbed through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream and carried to various organ systems of the body. 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. 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. 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 could become unconscious. At 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 use of alcohol is not harmful, but heavy drinking is associated with alcoholism and many other health problems. The effects of excessive drinking on major organ systems of the human body become clear 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 to the nervous system are 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 Recent evidence shows that pregnant women who drink heavily may give birth to infants with the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which could be face and body abnormalities and, in some cases, brain damage. Plus, the combination of alcohol and drugs; sleeping pills, tranquilizers, antibiotics, and aspirin, can be fatal, even when both are taken in nonlethal doses.
If you have a drinking problem, or if you suspect you have a drinking problem, there are many other people 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 decreased 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. 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. Many studies have been made about attitudes toward drinking in different societies. Various surveys show that subgroups within a society or culture do not all have the same attitudes toward alcoholic beverages or the same drinking habits. Drinking behavior differs noticably among groups of different age, sex, social class, racial status, ethnic background, occupational status, religious affiliation, and regional location.
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