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Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper

IntroductionI chose to write about alcoholism for a number of reasons.One reason is because it affects so many people. About ten million Americans suffer from this disease. Families can be destroyed and torn apart because of an alcoholic within the family. I chose alcoholism because so many people drink alcohol and use it in their daily lives. I also chose this topic because as a teenager, to drink alcohol is a choice that I will have to make. I wanted to know the consequences of drinking and the facts about it. I was tired of hearing contradictory facts about alcohol and alcoholism. The main purpose for writing this report on alcoholism is to inform myself about this subject. I intend to cover the causes of alcoholism, the effects of its use and the treatment of alcoholism. Reasons for Drinking AlcoholFirst of all, alcoholism is a disease in which the drinking of alcohol is a compulsion. A person who has a need to drink alcohol is called an alcoholic. Alcoholism is different then being drunk. A person may get drunk occasionally, but that does not make him or her an alcoholic. Alcoholics drink for many reasons. One debated reason is that it is genetic. Studies have been done on this issue. One study found that men whose fathers were alcoholics were three times more likely to become an alcoholic than the men whose fathers were non-alcoholic. They also found that the sons of alcoholics were more likely to become addicted at an earlier age. Another study compares sons of alcoholics who had been raised in homes with their alcoholic fathers with brothers who had been adopted and raised in a non-alcoholic home. The conclusion was that both boys were just as likely to become alcoholics.4 The descendants of alcoholics inherit a greater alcohol tolerance due to their body chemistry. The liver of an offspring of an alcoholic produces more acetaldehyde. This enzyme contaminates the blood, which will ultimately end up in the brain. This produces, along with the consumption of alcohol, a disproportionate amount of TIQ. TIQ is an analgesic which produces a feeling of relaxation and comfort. When it enters the brain anxiety diminishes. A side effect of TIQ is that it is as addictive as morphine. Scientists involved in alcoholism research state that, “there is no one substance that contributes to making of an alcoholic more than TIQ.” Since the alcoholic produces more acetaldehyde by drinking they can produce more TIQ. They become addicted very quickly.Along with addition there is another problem due to the increase of acetaldehyde. When it blends with gamma-amino butyric acid it thickens the brain cell membrane walls. The effect of this thickening is a decline in the ability of the brain cells to function effectively. With continued ingestion of alcohol the addict becomes a cerebral cripple.4Another reason for drinking is the taste. Although alcohol is an acquired taste, some people get used to it. Alcohol can even taste good when eaten with certain foods such as pizza. Wine is considered especially enjoyable with meals like steak or spaghetti. But not too many people drink because of the taste. They drink because they like the way it makes them feel. Alcohol relaxes them, making them more comfortable and less tense. This relaxing affect is what leads to alcoholism. Many people drink to escape their problems, relieve stress that has built-up during the work day or even the school day. Alcohol relieves both physical and emotional pain. In the early days of the practice of medicine, alcohol was used during operations to lessen pain. Teenagers might drink to be cool. They feel they must fit in with everyone else to they drink. Some teenagers drink to relieve problems. These problems could be an abusive parent or an over demanding parent. A child will drink to escape the pain the parent inflects on him when the parent himself is drunk. Being drunk helps the child forget about his troubles. A parent might make a child feel inadequate. Maybe the child cannot get good enough grades or he cannot be the star athlete. This makes him feel worthless when his parents criticize him. The child might turn to alcohol to forget his pain.6Social situations also encourage people to drink. Business is conducted over martinis. Weddings and holidays are celebrated with champagne. College parties are often centered around a keg of beer. Birthdays and promotions are also celebrated with alcohol. In these cases drinking is encouraged and is acceptable.Most people believe alcoholism is a learned habit. If children grow-up in an alcoholic home they have a significantly greater chance of becoming an alcoholic when they become adults. The chances increase even more when both parents abuse alcohol. The children grow up with the idea of drinking in their minds. They see their parents drinking so they think it is perfectly acceptable to abuse alcohol. Children who grow up in an alcoholic family also may turn to alcohol to escape the pain they must endure from their parents. Effects of Drinking AlcoholThe drug alcohol is a depressant. It lowers the activity of the nervous system. Alcohol affects the control centers of the brain and so a drunk may behave in ways that are unlike the person. The drunk is usually confused, disoriented, and unable to make steadily.2 Alcohol affects different people differently. Alcohol can even affect a person differently at different times. Alcohol depresses the brain s ability to utilize oxygen in the bloodstream. This produces, in some people, lightheadedness or giddiness. The brain is not getting enough oxygen.Alcohol is measured in the blood by percent. In most states a person with a .1% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is considered to be legally drunk. The effects of alcohol are greatly influenced by individual variations among users. This is a basic chart of intoxication effects of people at different BAC levels.3 + 0.02-0.03 BAC: No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of shyness. Depressant effects are not apparent.+ 0.04-0.06 BAC: Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions, sensation of warmth. Euphoria. Some minor impairment of reasoning and memory, lowering of caution.+ 0.07-0/09 BAC: Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Judgment and self-control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired.+ 0.10-0.125 BAC: Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle at this level of intoxication.

+ 0.13-0.15 BAC: Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control. Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reduced and dysphoria is beginning to appear.+ 0.16-0.20 BAC: Dysphoria (anxiety, restlessness) predominates, nausea may appear. The drinker has the appearance of a “sloppy drunk.”+ 0.25 BAC: Needs assistance in walking; total mental confusion. Dysphoria with nausea and some vomiting.+ 0.30 BAC: Loss of consciousness.+ 0.40 BAC and up: On set of coma, possible death due to respiratory arrest. Alcohol also brings out different moods in people. It might bring out hostility or anger usually kept under control. Nearly one-half of all murders in America occur while either the attacker of the victim , or both, are under the influence of alcohol.6 Alcohol also plays a big role in child abuse and spouse abuse. It also is a significant factor in many suicides. When some people are sober they repress their feelings and keep their them under control. Some of these feelings are of inferiority and worthlessness. So when these people become drunk they release these feelings. A man who feels inferior may start fights while being drunk, to prove how tough he is. Young teen girls struggle with the issue of sex and the development of their bodies. They may become drunk and use it as an excuse to act sexually. Something they normally would not do. Those people who feel powerless in their jobs or relationships may feel more powerful while drunk. And will verbally abuse others. They may even get into fights like the man who felt inferior. They might beat members of their family or even rape someone. In each case, when the person becomes sober they feel worse than they did before the drinking. They continue to drink and will commit the same offenses.6 Prolonged heavy drinking can produce much more serious effects. Brain damage is one. This caused by blood agglutination. This a where red blood cells clump and clog the capillaries. This in turn starves the brain of oxygen.1 Another serious physical effect is cirrhosis. This disease is of the liver in which scar tissue forms throughout the organ. Hard cells replace the normal spongy tissue of the liver. The liver is unable to manufacture proteins and remove harmful substances from the blood. It might block the flow of blood, causing high pressure in blood vessels that serve the liver. Some internal bleeding may occur. Cirrhosis may even end in death. Delirium Tremens is another serious physical side effect of alcohol abuse. It is a nervous and mental disturbance that results from alcoholism. People become disturbed after long periods of heavy drinking of alcohol. They may develop insomnia and a dislike for food, and become irritable and restless. They may have hallucinations that are brief and terrifying. It could last three to ten days. Death sometimes results, usually because of pneumonia or heart failure.2 Another effect of drinking is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE). This has an indirect effect to the alcoholic. This occurs when women drink alcoholic beverages while in pregnant. FAS is a varying group of symptoms that can affect an infant born to a mother who consumes alcohol during pregnancy. The most serious consequence is severe mental retardation due to impaired brain development. Central nervous system problems, small size, and facial and skull abnormalities could also occur. Newborns exposed to alcohol before birth may have weak sucking response and irregular sucking patterns early in life. They can be described as distracted and easily fatigued when sucking. Sleep disturbance, and jitterness may also result. Some studies also show that is a higher rate of impaired vision and hearing, motor incoordination, and problems with balance are noted. Abnormal thyroid and some decrease in the immune systems effectiveness may even occur.5 Alcoholic also affect others. They may directly affect their loved ones by abuse or rape. On the average alcoholics affect at least five people around them. This people are usually loved ones or friends.Treatment There are many warning signs to look for if you suspect a friend or loved one has a problem with alcohol. + Uses more alcohol than in the past+ Denies or tries to hide drinking+ Forgets or denies things that happened when he was intoxicated+ Chooses friends who are heavy drinkers + Tries to justify or excuse his drinking+ Thinks a lot about alcohol+ Seems to have low self–image and uses alcohol to feel better These are just a few signs to look for.3 The first step in treatment is admitting that you have a problem with alcohol. Denial is a major role in addiction. Once that barrier is broken people should turn to loved ones and friends for support. Then they must completely withdraw from alcohol. Many alcoholics suffer convulsions, delusions, and hallucinations during withdraw. Usually a person must enroll in a rehabilitation center to overcome their powerful addiction. The enrollment not only provides a structured way of getting off alcohol dependency it gives medical care for those going through withdraw symptoms. Ultimately it comes down to the willingness of the alcoholic to admit that he has a problem and should enroll or seek some help. The support of his family is also an intricate part of recovery.4Conclusion In writing this report I learned a lot. I learned that alcohol is a much bigger responsibility than I previously believed. It can affect people in tragic ways, it can break up families, and it can even kill you. All the effects of alcohol seem negative to me. I see no logical reason for consuming alcohol. I have made it sixteen years without being involved with alcohol and I feel I am coping without it. ALCOHOLISMBy 6th HourDue: March 24, 1997 Bibliography/Footnotes 1. Bradley, Ray – interview by Jim Wenson, March 15, 1997, Rives Junction, MI, in person.2. Encyclopedia – World Book, publisher World Book Childcraft International, Inc., copyright 1987, Volume A p.321-322, Volume C p.440-441, Volume D p.100.3. Internet – various sites on the World Wide Web.4. Perez, Joseph F. Ph.D. – Alcoholism – Causes, Effects, and Treatment copyright 1992, published by Accelerated Development, Inc.5. Popular Science – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome & Fetal Alcohol Ettect, October, 1995.6. Varley, Chris – Alcoholism, copyright 1994, published by Marshall Cavendish Corp.

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