Alcohol abuse related problems contribute to numerous deaths in the United States. These involve heath and non-health related circumstances. This paper reviews alcohol related problems in a deeper perspective. It analyzes the psychological toils that prevail in an individual who abuses alcohol. Secondly, it analyzes the advanced stage of alcohol abuse which is alcohol addiction. The problems encountered by an alcoholic and the symptoms are listed to act as guidelines when analyzing an alcohol dependent individual. The psychological implications of excessive consumptions of alcohol are discussed and it is advised that if people must engage in drinking, they should only do so in small amounts. The paper also reviews the differences in alcohol disintegration in women from men and how it may lead to medical conditions. Liver diseases are thoroughly reviewed since they are the most common and life threatening medical conditions known to be associated with alcohol intake. In addition, the heart is discussed and recommendations are given. The punch line of the paper is alcohol should be avoided at all costs.
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Alcohol has become a part of today’s social society. Alcohol has been known to relax people and make them enjoy more in celebration or parties. In the past century, alcohol was viewed in a more skeptical and indifferent manner compared to today when it has become an acceptable part of the modern society. In most societies, Fridays and Saturdays have become the most common drinking sessions for the working society. Many people enjoy drinking without complication but those that drink heavily repeatedly often develop complications. Sadly most alcohol related problems are quite serious and often lead to premature and painful death. Death related to alcohol might be health related where the user develops a complication or socially damage due to crime, careless driving, and other machinery related accidents.
Not only does alcohol abuse because harm to an individual, but also impacts their families and society in general. Relationships and careers have been destroyed due to uncontrollable drinking and alcoholism. Since the body is a system that relies on the collective coordination of various body organs, alcohol disrupts the coordination and reliability of this function rendering all bodily functions running individually. This overworks the bodily functions thus overworking most vital organs. The most affected parts of the body resulting from excess intake of alcohol are the brain, liver, stomach, lungs, and heart.
What alcohol can lead to
Alcoholism is the physical dependence to alcohol in order to perform ordinary daily activities. Persons continue to drink despite the problems emanating from their families, finances, health, work, social, and the psychological complications. Problems cause by alcoholism result to psychological and not physical complications. Different people react to alcohol differently. This makes some individuals more prone to alcohol addiction compared to others. Researchers argue that certain genes act as predisposing factors for alcohol dependence (Stöppler 2011). However, amounts of alcohol taken still determine ones chances of addiction. Young adults undergoing peer pressure, depression, easy access to alcohol, low self-esteem and stress are known factors that may increase an individual’s alcohol intake. This consequently leads to addiction. Also, fifteen or more drinks for men and twelve or more drinks for women increase one’s chances of falling into addiction. Symptoms of alcohol addiction include;
– Drinking alone
– Violence while drinking
– Unable to control one’s intake
– Decreased performance in work or school
– Creating excuses warranting drinking
– Poor feeding habits
– Hiding alcohol usage
– Shaking in the morning or after long periods without alcohol
– Poor grooming
– Need for alcohol to get through the day
Treatment for alcohol addiction is to stop using completely. Due to the rising numbers in the United States, efforts have been directed to help the patients stop completely. Programs like Alcohol Anonymous and Al-Anon are a few of support groups created to assist the patients in their recovery (Stöppler 2011).
Black outs and memory lapses
Alcohol is known to produce impairments in the memory of the user. As alcohol percentage increases, so does the memory incapacity increases. Other instances that promote alcohol memory problems are drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short period on an empty stomach. Black outs are when a user’s cognitive abilities completely collapse and they and up losing consciousness while in memory lapses, the user will appear normal but will hardly remember anything afterwards. Black outs have been known to expose individuals to rape, theft and other dangerous vices and insecurities (American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010). Memory lapses on the other hand leave the user lacking of knowledge of their activities promoting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted conditions that could have been prevented if they would have remembered.
Research has revealed that over 51% of students who have consumed alcohol have suffered some form memory complication at some point in their lives (American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010). 40% reported to have experienced a blackout in the year before the survey. They also revealed that they had partaken in some form of dangerous activities that they could hardly remember. These include destruction of private property, unprotected sex, or driving while intoxicated. It was however noted that the percentage was equal to both men and women despite women’s significant low intake.
Alcohol intake is widely associated to impaired judgment. Due to the relaxing abilities of alcohol, users often find themselves unable to access the part of their brain that is responsible for morality and principles. This leaves them with no guidelines or past experiences to refer to before engaging in certain activities. They find themselves with no voice of reason and thus doing things that they could not do if sober. For this reason many wake up in jail, engage in unprotected sexual activities sometimes with strangers and other actions that sometimes make an impact for a lifetime (American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010). Scores of people have testified to the same.
This is because alcohol affects the central nervous system which is responsible for activity in the brain and the spine. After taking alcohol, people become more enthusiastic and with fewer reservations (American Association for the Advancement of Science 2010). The brain also slows in activity which continues to decrease with increased intake. The after effects include altered speech, difficulty in thinking, poor hearing, impaired vision, and memory impairment leading to poor judgment.
Women and alcohol
Women have been reported to be at a disadvantage compared to men in matters pertaining alcohol. The physiological make up of a woman is responsible for women feeling the effects of alcohol more than men even when they are of the same size. Researchers have also argued that women are more susceptible to alcohol related complications than men. This is because they process alcohol differently. One of the reasons that make them different is their decreased ability to dilute alcohol. An average woman has 52% water mass in their bodies compared to a man that has 61% (Public Health Agency 2009). The less body water means that men dilute alcohol faster compared to women.
The second factor is their lowered ability to metabolize alcohol. A woman’s body has less dehydrogenase a liver enzyme used to break down alcohol. This lowers the ability of a woman to synthesize alcohol faster compared to men. Finally are the women’s hormonal factors. Certain premenstrual hormones make a woman more intoxicated compared to other days of her cycle. This is the hormone that is produced right before their menstrual period. Birth control medication also has the hormone estrogen which slows down the breakdown of alcohol from a woman’s body.
Different ways alcohol affects the body
Although breast cancer is known to occur in both sexes, it is most prevalent in women. Initially, high levels of breast cancer in women were solely associated with smoking. However, leaps in biological sciences have shown that alcohol abuse in women may be a predisposing factor to breast cancer. Research shows that alcohol intake increases the levels of Oestrogen a hormone predominant with the women productive systems. The more the alcohol intake the higher the Oestogen levels in the body (Public Health Agency 2009). At normal levels, it is essential for normal growth of the heart, bones and the functioning of the female reproductive organ. However, at higher levels, it is associated with the abnormal growth of cancer cells in the breast. Despite the fact that breast cancer is mostly uncontrollable, alcohol intake is one of the controllable factors that will reduce the chances of developing this deadly cancer. Breast cancer is the number one killing cancer in women and chances to avoid it should be taken seriously.
Research conducted in 2009 shows that women who took three to five drinks in a week had a higher 15% chance of developing breast cancer (Public Health Agency 2009). In addition, women who drunk daily increased their risk by a further 10% (Public Health Agency 2009). Teenage girls who took three to five drinks a week were also found to increase their chances of developing non-cancerous lumps by 3%. Unlike in other cancer types, alcohol is argued to increase the chances of treated cancer coming back to women with previous diagnosis. Conclusively, it is safe to say, all types of drinking whether moderate, occasional, or binge drinking is a risk factor to women in the development of breast cancer.
Alcohol and liver disease
Liver disease is perhaps the most dangerous form of alcohol related complication known to man. This perilous disease is made worse by the fact that it stays for a very long time for it to manifest its symptoms. In addition, it is also because the liver is a very important organ of the body that is responsible for digestion, remove of toxins, and providing energy for the body. Due to its functions, it is the liquor controlling organ of a human. Because the liver has over 500 body functions, breaking down alcohol means more work for it (Longstreth 2013). If an individual participates in regular drinking, then the liver ends up being over worked hence damage leading to various liver diseases.
When an individual drinks too much alcohol in a small period of time, they end up intoxicated due the alcohol circulating in the blood stream awaiting breakdown. The alcohol circulating to various body organs may cause harm to them. Overworking the liver may cause a fatty liver, liver inflammation, permanent scarring, or liver cancer (Longstreth 2013).
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the initial stages of liver disease. It is the less serious and more treatable form of liver disease. It is caused by the accumulation of fatty deposits on the liver after a few days of drinking. It hardly has any symptoms and is an indicator of excessive harmful drinking. If an individual stops drinking, the damage can be reversed.
Alcoholic hepatitis is the more advanced stage of liver disease from fatty liver. Continuous alcohol abuse over many years may cause inflammation of the liver. This can also be caused by binge drinking. Treatment for this condition requires abandoning alcohol intake for long periods of time accompanied with drug intake (Longstreth 2013).
Liver cirrhosis is the final and most dangerous form of liver disease. It is caused by the prolonged inflammation of the liver that causes scarring and loss of ability to carry out is function (Longstreth 2013). This stage of liver disease causes numerous deaths. This condition is irreversible and sometimes liver transplant may be needed. However, measures to stop drinking may lead to the gradual recovery of the liver in less serious conditions.
Alcohol and heart disease
Conventional doctors argue that light drinking may be good for the heart. Researchers argue that those who take one drink a day are less likely to suffer from heart disease compared to those that drink too much or do not drink at all. A little alcohol is said to increase good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and also artery damage. However, drinking may also cause stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure. Today doctors will not advise patients to drink for their hearts since a little exercise and good nutrition may prevent the heart from these risks (American Heart Association 2013).
Younger and younger generations are engaging in alcohol abuse as the year’s progress. This has increased the number of complications that arise due to the damaging effects drinking. Levels of impotency and numbers of newborn complications are hitting the roofs with the advancing generations. Argent measures should be taken and more campaigns financed to educate everyone on the dangers of the intake of alcohol. In this generation, alcohol is viewed as an ordinary social part of the society and this should not be the case. Government and education institutions should crusade on the dangers of the drug that has been disguised by the rich who gain profits in producing the product. Efforts for investment should be channeled in other productive industries that promote healthy living and happier interactions with family and friends.
– Do not drink as your friends since everyone has a difference tolerance to alcohol determined by race, gender, nationality, weight and health.
– All types of alcohol are equally harmful and intake should be regulated by the recommended intake depending on their content.
– Never drink while on medication. This can lead to liver failure.
– Women should drink less due to their predisposing physiological biological make up and hormonal changes.
– If diagnosed with any form of liver disease, stop drinking completely to avoid further damage of the liver.
– Drinking games that promote consumption of large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time should be avoided.
– The safest recommended amount of alcohol is no alcohol.
– Never drink when pregnant or trying to conceive. It affects and infertility and proper child growth.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2010) Alcohol and the human body. http://sciencenetlinks. com/interactives/alcohol/ebook/pages/human-body. htm
American Heart Association. (2013) Alcohol and heart disease: alcohol and cardiovascular disease. http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Alcohol-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305173_Article. jsp#
Longstreth, G. F. (2013) Alcoholic liver disease: Medline plus. http://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000281. htm
Public Health Agency. (2009) Know your limits. http://www. knowyourlimits. info/AboutAlcohol. aspx
Stöppler, M. C. (2011) Alcohol abuse and alcoholism: MedicineNet. com. http://www. medicinenet. com/alcohol_abuse_and_alcoholism/article. htm