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Alcohol And Its Effects Essay, Research Paper

Alcohol is a representation of one of the most profound health-related drug problems in the United States. Seven in ten adults, or more than one hundred million American eighteen years and older are estimated to be drinkers. Approximately ten million of them are felt to develop a drinking problem, such as alcoholism, during their lifetime. Many other experts view alcohol as a problem that is lessening as society becomes more aware of it?s dangers and responds by decreasing its use. Liquor industry statistics show a drop in per capita consumption of alcohol since the 1980?s. Howard Shaffer, director of Harvard Medical School?s Center for Addiction Studies, says, ?There has clearly been a change of lifestyle. It is a new temperance movement, the new sobriety? ( Bender and Leone 95). Allen Haveson, a spokesperson for the National Council on Alcoholism, agrees. ?A large number of Americans have adopted a moderate lifestyle. They have begun to moderate or stop drinking? (Bender and Leone 95).

How harmful is alcohol? Alcohol intake reduces peripheral vision, impairs the ability to see, and hear, inhibits reactions, reduces concentration and motor performance. One of the most dangerous consequences of drinking is the synegistic action of alcohol when combined with other drugs, such as G.H.B., a drug that effects the central system, which can lead to death.

Since the late 1900?s there has been an increase in publicity about pregnant women who drink and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Rosenthal, an emergency room physician in New York City, maintains that ?alcohol can cause permanent physical and mental damage to a developing fetus?( Rosenthal 105). The type of damage produced by drinking depends on the fetus?s stage of development. The first trimester of pregnancy is devoted to the organization of the fetus?s bones and organs, while the second and third trimesters center on growth and maturation. The brain develops throughout the nine-month period. ?So we would predict physical malformations from heavy drinking in the first trimester and growth retardation from drinking in the third,? states Dr. Claren. ?But brain damage can occur at any time? (Bender and Leone 109). Even the women who are breast-feeding have recommendation to abstain, due to brain maturation continue after birth. Although experts stress that there is no evidence in human beings that a rare single drink does damage, most say that with so much still unknown the only prudent course for the pregnant mother is abstinence.

While discussing early effects of alcohol, long term manifestations of alcohol abuse can be just as serious and life-threatening. These conditions include cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of the liver, often fatal), greater risk for oral, esophageal, and liver cancer; cardiomyopathy (a disease that affects the heart muscle), high blood pressure, greater risk for strokes, inflammation of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and pancreas, stomach ulcers, sexual impotence, malnutrition, brain cell damage and consequent loss of memory, depression, psychosis, and hallucinations (Hoeger 172). Unfortunately, the list of long term effects of drinking is long because the whole body is affected. Little time is spent in medical school on the subject of alcohol abuse and alcoholism although the amount of time has increased in recent years. Studies have shown that doctors often fail to diagnose alcoholism in ninety percent of their alcoholic patients. This often occurs because they are too busy treating the localized problem than the overall conditions (Sales 36).

There are many treatment options for alcohol abusers and alcoholics. There is help available to assist in achieving sobriety. There are treatment centers opening up everyday. There are more counselors being trained to address alcohol abuse each year, and more doctors who have increased their knowledge of the disease and there are new support groups forming daily around the country (Sales 67). Overall there is help that is readily available so ?Reach out for help, not a drink? (Sales 66).

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