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Alcohol Most Used And Abused Drug

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Alcohol: Most Used And Abused Drug Essay, Research Paper

Alcohol: Most Used and Abused Drug

Alcohol is the most used and abused drug in the world, for this reason

there is no wonder why we have alcohol problems. The most common problem is

alcoholism. Alcoholism is a chronic usually progressive disease that includes

both a psychological and a physical addiction to alcohol. Alcoholics know what

will happen to them when they drink but they are so addicted they can’t stop

drinking. Alcohol becomes the most important part of the person’s life. It

totally consumes them, all their thoughts and actions have to do are somehow

associated with alcohol. Alcoholism like other illnesses will become worse

without treatment and remain life-threatening as long as it is left untreated.

The psychological dependence an alcoholic has is when they think alcohol is

necessary and life will not be good without it. The physical dependence an

alcoholic has is when their body becomes so used to the drug that it now needs

alcohol to function without pain. Alcoholism is not a disease experienced only

by adults. Alcoholism, like any illness, can strike at any age. Ten percent of

the adult drinkers in the U.S are considered alcoholics or at least experience

drinking problems to some degree. Surveys have shown that more than one out of

three Americans have a personal friend or relative who has had a drinking

problem for ten years or longer. Almost two out of three Americans report that

they know someone who drinks too much. It is estimated that there are 18

million alcoholic or problem drinkers in the U.S. For every alcoholic there are

at least four other people who are affected by the alcoholic. This means that

in the U.S. there are at least seventy-two million other people dealing with the

disease somehow. Many people believe that alcoholics are people that are the

skid row winos and bums. This is a common misconception, actually ninety-four

percent of alcoholics live at home, while only six percent are the skid row type.

Ninety percent of all alcoholics are employed, and many work for years before

their alcoholism becomes so bad that they cannot perform their job. Federal

officials estimate that the abuse of alcohol costs the economy well over one-

hundred billion dollars every year. Alcohol does this by making people be less

productive at work, taking more sick days, sustaining on the job injuries,

collecting more workmen’s compensation, and increasing health insurance premiums.

Physical Effects

Prolonged alcohol use like that of an alcoholic can lead to permanent damage of

your body. The liver is the organ of the body most vulnerable to damage by

alcohol because the liver is where the alcohol is broken down. The liver may

become worn out from the daily task of removing alcohol from the blood, this

may cause the liver to be unable to perform as well in removing other harmful

substances. One of the most dangerous diseases of the liver caused by long-term

alcohol use is cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis causes the liver to become

inflamed and scarred, which eventually kills the liver and the person. Over

fourteen thousand deaths a year from cirrhosis are directly related to alcohol.

Alcohol causes an increase in blood pressure, this makes the heart pump harder

to move blood around the body. Alcohol can cause an increase in heart rate

while at the same time reducing the ability of the heart muscle to pump, it can

also cause abnormal heart rhythms. Long-term and heavy use of alcohol can cause

a condition of the heart called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, this impairs the heart

muscles ability to contract and eventually fail. Alcohol’s action on the brain

is what causes people to feel intoxicated. A sudden intake of large amounts of

alcohol may result in death, this is because nerve impulses to the brain are

dangerously blocked. There are over two hundred deaths a year from this kind of

accidental alcohol poisoning. Alcohol also has an increasing effect on our

brain chemistry this is what causes are change behavior. This can make people

do things that they would not do when they are sober, this a is common sign of

an alcoholic. Test have shown that long-term drinking like that of an alcoholic

can lead to a measurable loss of thinking ability. Over time heavy drinking can

also cause permanent damage to the central nervous system. Research has shown

that there seems to be an association between alcohol and cancer, with heavy

drinkers having the highest risk. Drinkers seem to get cancer more frequently

than non-drinkers. Scientists believe that alcohol weakens body tissue and

makes them more susceptible to cancer causing substances. Alcohol is considered

a factor in over seven thousand cases of cancer a year. Alcohol hurts heavy

drinkers health in general, consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long

period of time harms their bodies and shortens their life. On average, heavy

drinkers are taking twelve to fifteen years off their lives.

How People Become Alcoholics

It is believed that there are many different ways a person can become a

alcoholic. Alcohol alone does not cause alcoholism, if it did everyone who

drank would be any alcoholic. There are a number of factors that lead to

alcoholism. The way most scientists think you become an alcoholic is through

genetics. Because of genetics people tend to inherit an inability to handle

alcohol, just like other people inherit other diseases from their parents. This

is the reason that alcoholism seems to run in families from generation to

generation. This is why some people become alcoholics from the first time they

drink, because of the genetics they become hooked from the start. Experiments

testing the genetic factor have been conducted by taking children of alcoholics

at birth and placing them in non-alcoholic families, despite having no exposure

to the alcoholic parents the children had a four times higher risk of becoming

an alcoholic than children of non-alcoholic parents. Another reason people

become alcoholics is the environment they grow up in. If children are exposed

to drinking as a activity in which drinkers are careful and moderate they are

more likely to become a responsible drinker. If the children grow up seeing

heavy alcohol use and abuse they are more likely to use alcohol in that way.

Also, if the children are exposed to large amounts of peer pressure from the

kids around them they are more likely to drink. Alcoholism is also a disease

that can be acquired over a long period of time. Alcoholics may start out as

social drinkers who are able to control their drinking, but they may lose this

control and be carried into the alcoholic class. Some people may drink daily

just out of habit on a controlled level. But they may become careless about

their habits and the step across the line to alcohol dependence is a short one.

Once they are dependent on the alcohol they will build a tolerance to it, this

will cause them to drink more and more to get the same effects. Drinking more

only makes their dependence worse and eventually they will develop into a full

blow alcoholic.

Women Alcoholics

Alcoholism is a disease people see as mostly a male problem. But this is

incorrect, as many as half of the nation’s alcoholics are women. The reason it

seems there are not as many female alcoholics is that female alcoholics are

usually closet drinkers. You rarely see a woman alcoholic publicly show

alcoholic behavior, while with men it is very common. It is easier for a woman

alcoholic to damage her body than it is for a man. The physical damage is worse

than men’s because women wait longer to seek help because society places a

greater stigma on o woman who drinks to much. Women’s livers don’t process

alcohol as well as men’s. This makes women alcoholics susceptible to developing

cirrhosis and other liver problems with lower levels of alcohol in their bodies

and after shorter periods of drinking. Large amounts of alcohol in women may

interfere with fertility by upsetting the hormones in their body and it can

increase the chance of a miscarriage. Women alcoholics who become pregnant can

cause great damage to their babies, this damage is called fetal alcohol syndrome,

fetal alcohol syndrome can cause physical deformities and mental retardation.

Women alcoholics also have a higher rate of relapse than males.

Violence and Alcoholism

Being an alcoholic probably means you will be under the influence of alcohol

quite a bit, which increases your chances of doing something stupid or illegal

more than the regular person. Alcohol causes a change in brain chemistry which

results in changed behavior such as increased aggression and reduced fear which

may lead us to take needless risks. Alcohol can cause people to be rude,

verbally abusive, and physically threatening. These factors almost always lead

to trouble, such as fights with family , friends, or even complete strangers.

Some people use alcohol to express hostile feelings that the wouldn’t express

when sober. Alcohol is a major factor in the committing crimes. Two out of

three murders, one out of three rapes, and two out of five results are connected

to the use of alcohol. This comes of no surprise to me because it is almost

everyday you here of someone committing a crime while under the influence.

Traffic deaths caused by alcohol are very common in the U.S. This shows that

alcohol not only hurts the people drinking but also innocent people. One out of

two traffic deaths are caused by alcohol and nearly twenty-five thousand

Americans die each year as a result of the eight hundred thousand car accidents

caused by alcohol. Alcoholics are seven times more likely to be involved in

fatal accidents than non-alcoholics. Alcohol is also related to three out of

five cases of child abuse, up to one out of two incidents of domestic violence,

one out of three suicides, and up to seven out of ten deaths by drowning. What

I’m trying to point out here is that when people use alcohol, especially

frequently and heavily like alcoholics do, they are just setting themselves up

to get hurt or hurt someone else.

Getting Help

Early identification and treatment of alcoholism is the best way to prevent

alcohol from ruining your life. The first and most important thing an alcoholic

can do is admit that they have a problem. It is unlikely that the alcoholic

will be the first to admit it, usually they will deny they have a problem, first

they will deny their problem to others and then to themselves. But once the

alcoholic admits they have a problem, they are on the road to victory. After

they admit they have a problem they have to decide for themselves that they want

to stop drinking for good. Another very crutial part of recovery is recognizing

alcoholism itself as the problem needing attention, rather than saying it is

just secondary to another underlying problem. There are many places an

alcoholic can get help from like: family, friends, health-care workers,

Alcoholics Anonymous, and alcoholism counselors. They can provide the moral

support the alcoholic needs to get well. Alcoholics may need to check into a

detox center if really bad, because the withdrawals can be very painful and

could possibly cause death. Withdrawal reactions can include any or all of

these: high fever, loss of appetite, nausea, uncontrollable shaking,

hallucinations, and possible coma or death. Alcoholism is a disease that cannot

be totally cured but people can recover and return to a normal way of life.

Recovering depends on total abstinence from alcohol. Recovering alcohol’s can

never touch alcohol again because their addiction is too strong. Alcoholism is

a very serious disease that affects a large number of people. I think if we

educate children at an early age to use alcohol in moderation and within a

reasonable limit we would have less cases of alcoholism. We also now have the

ability, through technology, to detect which people will most likely develop

into alcoholics. I think with this information we should get these people help

right away, the sooner the better. There is still hope for today’s and

tomorrow’s alcoholics because they are able to recover from alcoholism. It will

only get easier to recover from it if more people get involved in the fight

against alcoholism.


Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Alcoholism Internet Webpage Alcohol and Health

Notes Magazine Today’s Health Magazine Alcoholism by Chris Varley Problem

Drinking – What’s The Problem? * How Alcohol Affects Your Body * Alcohol At Work

* Living With An Alcoholic Parent * How To Asses Your Drinking *

* References marked by stars are Life Skills Education Pamphlets

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