Essay, Research Paper: Alcoholism

Alcohol and Drugs

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Alcoholism is perhaps the most common form of drug abuse in America today. In
1995, in the United States 67% of all the population over the age of 12 reported
drinking alcohol with in the previous year. Even more astounding, is the fact
that nearly 50% reported drinking some type of alcoholic beverage with in the
past month. Scientist report that the reason alcohol is so popular to drinkers
is because it is pleasant, relaxing, and is considered a "social
beverage." But what the drinkers often do not take in to consideration are
the facts that alcohol dulls the brain and confuses physical reactions. Which
leads to numerous injuries, accidents, and death. Roughly 1.3 million people are
arrested for driving drunk each year. As a result of the drunk drivers, 25,000
deaths occur each year. More 16 to 24 year olds are killed as a result of drunk
driving or are involved in accidents where someone is driving drunk than any
other age group in the nation. Alcohol affects every part of an alcoholic's
life: their body, their mind and their family life. The body has a natural
chemical that gives a feeling of a "natural high". It happens in the
presence of a life-endangering situation. This chemical is adrenaline, which is
meant to prepare the body for defense in the case of an emergency. Alcohol
tricks the body into giving off the chemical and in turn, get the "natural
high" feeling. The problem alcohol has though is that when it goes to the
brain, it blocks the synapses in the brain, that portion of the brain cannot
perform its usual tasks; such as speaking, walking, seeing, etc. After the body
has consumed a certain amount of alcohol, it can't rely on the logical (upper
brain) to operate itself. Instead it depends on the lower brain, due to this the
person will not know what they are doing or saying. Since the body is in the
"high" state for so long, instead of just for a few minutes, it
becomes addicted and depends on the alcohol for normal function. Alcohol has a
tremendous affect on the body. In small doses, alcohol has a tendency to provide
warmth, confront and relaxation. But when the drinker is unable to control the
amount he or she has, they become more outgoing, self confident, and
uninhibited. Alcohol mostly affects the liver. Normally, the liver processes fat
and converts them into calories, but it also can process alcohol. Upon exiting
the liver, the alcohol is distributed through out other organs including the
lungs, brain and kidneys. After alcohol reaches the brain, it numbs the frontal
lobe which has direct control over judgement, visual perception and decision
making skills. Scientist believe this is what makes alcoholics believe they can
conquer anything task put before them. After drinking a good number of drinks
everyday over a long period of time, many things can happen. Cirrhosis of the
liver can occur, which means the liver tissues become hardened. Scientist also
report that irreversible brain damage can before cirrhosis of the liver is even
detected. Also, cancer of the liver, mouth, esophagus, and lungs as well as
intestinal and pancreatic cancer often occur as a result of alcoholism. Alcohol
also has an affect on the mind as well as the body. Alcoholics often report that
they feel inferior to people and believe they can do anything. One study done
reports than when people drink by themselves, they reported changes in their
physical as well as mental state such as dizziness and unclear thinking. But
when they are put in a group or social situation and encouraged to drink, the
participants reported changes in mood and interpersonal behavior, like less
unhappy and more friendly. All of the participants achieved the same BAC (Blood
Alcohol Content) and were relatively the same size in build and structure. Many
people believe that alcohol acts as a "social lubricant." Increased
social pleasures, assertiveness talkativeness and even happiness are all
expected by many when they drink in these situations. Alcohol is said to reduce
tension and anxiety. This in turn allows drinkers to feel more relaxed and
comfortable in social situations. However, this also encourages the drinker to
drink more when under more stress. Alcohol also affects the mind in other ways
too, not just socially. Alcohol also makes people more aggressive. Studies show
that in all the assaults, rapes, and murders 30 to 60% of these cases involved
alcohol. Many scientists believe that alcohol triggers violence. Others have
argued that human beings have a natural aggressive drives or impulses that are
usually restrained by guilt, fear, or social behaviors and laws. Alcohol is
believed to directly stimulate feelings of power and the need to dominate.
Alcohol also has a direct affect on sexual relations. William Shakespeare wrote
that when sex is concerned drinking "provokes the desire, but takes away
from the performance." Poet Ogden Nash also was quoted as saying
"Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." Most people think that
consumption of alcohol will increase their sexual performance when in all
actuality it increases the desire, but takes away from the performance. In many
studies performed, they affect alcohol has on women and men are often different.
It is often found that women can control the sexual feelings more adequately
than men can, which gives reasons to why more women are raped and sexually
assaulted than men. Alcohol has the most affect on the family. Many alcoholics
do not believe this because they think what they do has no affect on their
family and friends. But often times the amount of stress put on the spouse,
children, parents, and friends of an alcohol can be worse than what the
alcoholic thinks. New research has begun to show, that if someone parent or
grandparent is an alcoholic they have a greater chance of becoming one also.
Children who have had alcoholic parents often act impulsively, lie, and seek
approval and attention from others. The children often have a hard time finding
what is "normal" and what is not because of the unpredictable
environment they were raised in. Often times alcoholic have a tendency to abuse
their children and their spouse. Many times, alcoholics come from an abusive
home and they have a history of alcoholism in the family already. In conclusion,
alcohol affects every part of your life. It has irreversible affects on the
body, including the liver and the brain. Alcohol also has detrimental affects on
the mind, which leads to feeling inferior and unstoppable. Alcohol and
alcoholism also affects family as well. There are many treatment programs and
support groups that can help. However, most of the time the alcoholics refuse to
admit they have a problem with their drinking, so it goes untreated. 
1. Golden, Sandy. Driving the Drunk Off the Road. Washington, D.C.: Acropolis
Books, LTD, 1984. 2. Halgin, Richard P., and Susan Krauss Whitbourne. Abnormal
Psychology. Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark, 1997. 3. Lang, Alan R. Alcohol,
Teenage Drinking. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1985.
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