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Alcohol (Alcoholism)

by MICHELLE SMITH about a year ago in addiction
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If you've been through this with a loved one, you'll understand why it is important to avoid. You'll understand why others don't want them to continue down the path they are on.

Alcohol (Alcoholism)

Can you stop? Is it worth it? From personal experience it isn’t. Drinking isn’t worth your life or risking the lives of others. It ruins people’s attitude, personality and has them doing stupid things. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. However, I was able to overcome it. Cut it out of my life which has been the best thing. Things have been changing since I've decided to make a change for a better future for myself and children as should we all. Being aware of what alcohol can do is important. It isn’t something that we should mess around with. Our bodies are precious just like everyday is precious. That is why I wanted to share what alcohol (alcoholism) is. Things to look for, what to do and how you can overcome it too. After the past few years of dealing with someone who suffers from it, I know that this can benefit others. Your life is only a struggle when you allow it to be, but you can be better than letting a silly drink control your life.

Definition of alcohol

Alcohol: classes as a depressant, meaning that is slows down vital functions resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly. As for how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgement. Although classified as a depressant, the amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as beer or a glass of win taken to, “loosen up”. But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel, “stupid” or lose coordination and control. Alcohol overdose causes even more severe depressant effects (inability to feel pain, toxicity where the body vomits the poison and finally unconsciousness or worse come or death from severe toxic overdose). These reactions depend on how much is consumed and quickly.

We all know alcohol as a fun time. The definition above is just a brief meaning. Alcohol is defined more in depth and ignored of all the horrible signs that come along with it. A fun fact is the content found in each type of alcohol:

· Beer (2-6%)

· Cider (4-8%)

· Wine (8-20%)

· Tequila (40%)

· Rum (40%)

· Brandy (40% or more)

· Gin (47%)

· Whiskey (40-50%)

· Liqueurs (15-60%)

Sometimes referred to by the chemical name ethanol, is a drug that is the active ingredient in drinks such as beer, wine and distilled spirits (hard liquor). Ethanol is only one of the several types of alcohol, but it is the only type of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages or commonly used for recreational purposes; other alcohols such as methanol and isopropyl alcohol are significantly more toxic. It is one of the oldest and most common recreational substances, causing the characteristics effects of alcohol intoxication (drunkenness). Alcohol can be addictive to humans as in alcoholism and can result in dependence and withdrawal. Alcohol also has a toxic and unpleasant actions in the body, many of which are meditated by its byproduct acetaldehyde. Among other effects, alcohol produces a mood lift and euphoria, decreased anxiety, increased sociability sedation, impairment of cognitive memory, motor and sensory function and generalized depression of central nervous system function. Has a variety of short-term and long-term adverse effects. Alcohol use is also relate4d to various societal problems including driving accidents and fatalities, accidental injuries, sexual assaults, domestic abuse and violent crime. The substance also directly affects a number of other neurotransmitters systems including those of glutamate, glycine, acetylcholine and serotonin. Drinking alcohol is generally socially acceptable and is legal in most countries, unlike with many other recreational substances. Been a produced and consumed by humans for its psychoactive effects for almost 10,000 years. Alcohol has considerable societal and cultural significance and has important social roles in much of the world. However, there are often restrictions on alcohol sale and use for instance a minimum age for drinking and laws against public drinking and driving. Currently alcohol is illegal for sale and consumption in a few mostly middle eastern areas. Drinking establishments such as bars and nightclubs, revolve primarily around the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages and parties, festivals and social gatherings commonly feature alcohol consumption as well. Common names are:

· Booze

· Brew

· Juice

· Hooch

· Liquor

· Sauce

Drink to socialize, celebrate or relax. Often has a strong effect on people and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. National institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism is researching the answers to these and many other questions about alcohol: Why does it cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted while others do not?

Drug harmfulness

It is highly associated with automobile accidents, sexual assaults and both violent and non-violent crime. Heavy drinking is associated with vulnerability to injury, marital discord and domestic violence. About one-third of arrests in the United States involve alcohol abuse. A plethora of detrimental effects in society, both to the individual and to others.

Social harm:

· Considerable societal damage includes suppression of psychological inhibition which may increase the risk for activities such as impulsive sex, drunk dialing and alcohol-related crimes such as public intoxication and drunk driving.

Many emergency room visits also involve alcohol use. Abuse of alcohol is associated with more than 40% of deaths that occur in automobile accidents every year. As many as 15% of employees show problematic alcohol-related behaviors in the workplace, such as drinking before going to work or even drinking on the job. Alcohol use is directly related to considerable morbidity and mortality, for instance due to overdose and alcohol-related health problems.

Damages from alcohol

Sexual assault:

· Often used to facilitate sexual assault or rape. Over 50% of reported rapes involve alcohol. It is the most commonly used date rape drug

Violent crime:

· Alcohol is more commonly associated with both violent and non-violent crime than drugs like marijuana

· Over 40% of all assaults and 50-50% of all murders involve alcohol. Alcohol is implicated in more than two-thirds of cases of intimate partner violence

· In 2002, it was estimated that 1 million violent crimes in the United States were related to alcohol use

Health consequences:

· Abuse and dependency are major problems and many health problems as well as death can result from excessive use

· The leading chronic alcohol-related condition associated with death is alcoholic impairment and organic brain damage

· Deaths from alcohol are split about evenly between acute causes (e.g. overdose, accidents) and chronic conditions

· Some researchers have found that even one alcoholic drink a day increases an individual’s risk of health problems

· In 2004, it was estimated that 4% of deaths worldwide were attributed to alcohol use

· Alcohol dependence is linked to a lifespan that is reduced by about 12 years relative to the average person

· Consequences:

o Drinking too much: on a single occasion or overtime can take a serious toll on your health

o Brain: alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination

o Heart: drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can dame the heart causing problems including: cardiomyopathy, stretching and drooping of heart muscle, arrhythmias, irregular heartbeat, stroke and high blood pressure

o Liver: heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including: steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis

o Pancreas: alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis; a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion

Use and effects

Ethanol is commonly consumed as a recreational substance especially while socializing due to its psychoactive effects. It is commonly used in social settings due to its capacity to enhance sociability. Small doses of ethanol in general are stimulant-like and produce euphoria and relaxation; people experiencing these symptoms tend to become talkative and less inhibited and may exhibit poor judgement. At higher dosages, ethanol acts as a central nervous system depressant, producing at progressively higher dosages, impaired sensory and motor function, slow cognition, stupefaction, unconsciousness and possible death.

Risks:

· Digestive and cardiovascular systems has considerable toxic effects on the body

Adverse effects

Short-term:

· Central nervous system impairment: causes generalized central nervous system depression and associated cognitive memory, motor and sensory impairment. It shows and impairs cognition and reaction time, impairs judgement, interferes with motor function resulting in motor incoordination, loss of balance and slurred speech, impairs memory formation and causes sensory impairment. At high concentrations, amnesia, analgesia, spins, stupor and unconsciousness results. At very high concentrations, anterograde amnesia, markedly decreased heart rate, pulmonary aspiration, positional alcohol nystagmus, respiratory depression and death can result due to profound suppression of central nervous system function and consequent dysautonomia

· Gastrointestinal effects: can cause nausea and vomiting in sufficiently high amounts (varies by person). Alcohol stimulates gastric juice production, even when food is not present and as a result its consumption stimulates acidic secretions normally intended to digest protein molecules. Consequently, the excess acidity may harm the inner lining of the stomach. Drinking alcohol causes more acid release which further damages the already-weakened stomach wall

· Allergic-like reactions: ethanol containing beverages can cause alcohol flush reactions, exacerbations of rhinitis and more seriously and commonly bronchoconstriction in patients with a history of asthma and in some cases urticarial skin eruptions and systemic dermatitis. Such reactions can occur within 1-60 minutes of ethanol ingestion and may be cause by: genetic abnormalities in the metabolism of ethanol which can cause the ethanol metabolite, acetaldehyde, to accumulate in tissues and trigger the release of histamine or true allergy reactions to allergens occurring naturally in or contaminating alcoholic beverages (particularly wine and beer) and other unknown causes

Long-term: prolonged heavy consumptions of alcohol can cause significant permanent damage to the brain and other organs such as:

· Liver disease: during the metabolism of alcohol via the respective dehydrogenases, NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is converted into reduced NAD. Normally NAD is used to metabolize fats in the liver and as such alcohol competes with these fats for the use of NAD. Prolonged exposure to alcohol means that fats accumulate in the liver, leading to the term “fatty liver”. Continued consumption then leads to cell death in the hepatocytes as the fat stores it reduces the function of the cell to the point of death. These cells are then replaced with scar tissue, leading to the condition called cirrhosis

· Birth defects: ethanol is classified as a teratogen. According to the U.S. centers for disease control alcohol consumption by women who are not using birth control increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. The CDC currently recommends complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages for women of child-bearing age who are pregnant, trying to become or are sexually action and not using birth control

· Cancer

· Other effects: frequent drinking is a major contributing factor in cases of elevated blood levels of triglycerides

Reinforcement disorders

Addiction:

· Two or more consecutive alcohol-free days a week have been recommended to improve health and break dependence

· Dependence and withdrawal: discontinuation of alcohol after extended heavy use and associated tolerance development can result in withdrawal. Can cause confusion, anxiety, insomnia, agitation, tremors, fever, nausea, vomiting, autonomic dysfunction, seizures and hallucinations. In severe cases death can result. Delirium tremens is a condition that requires people with a long history of heavy drinking to undertake an alcohol detoxification regimen

· Overdose: death from ethanol consumption is possible when blood alcohol levels reach 0.4%. A blood level of 0.5% or more is commonly fatal. Levels of even less than 0.1% can cause intoxication with unconsciousness often occurring at 0.3-0.4%. Symptoms of ethanol overdose may include: nausea, vomiting, central nervous system, depression, coma, acute respiratory failure or death

Types of cancer and research

Based on extensive reviews of research studies, there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer. In its report on carcinogens the national toxicology program of the U.S. department of health and human services lists consumptions of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks-particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time-the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol associated caner. Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol related

Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and the development of the following types of cancer:

· Head and neck: alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for certain head and neck cancers, particularly cancers of the oral cavity (excluding the lips), pharynx (throat) and larynx (voice box). People who consume 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately 3.5 or more drinks per day) have at least a two to three-time greater risk of developing these cancers than nondrinkers. Moreover, the risks of these cancers are substantially higher among persons who consume this amount of alcohol and also use tobacco

· Esophageal cancer: alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a particular type of esophageal cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, people who inherit a deficiency in an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol have been found to have substantially increased risk of alcohol related esophageal squamous cell

· Liver cancer: alcohol consumption is an independent risk factor for and a primary cause of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus and C are the other major causes of liver cancer

· Breast cancer: more than 100 epidemiologic studies have looked at the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer in women. These studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with increasing alcohol intake. A meta-analysis of 53 of these studies (which included a total of 58,000 women with breast cancer) showed that women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol per day (approximately three drinks) had 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as nondrinkers (a modestly increased risk). The risk of breast cancer was higher across all levels of alcohol intake: for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink), researchers observed a small 7% increase in the risk of breast cancer. The million women study in the United Kingdom (which included more than 28,000 women with breast cancer) provided a more recent and slightly higher estimate of breast cancer risk at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption: every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day was associated with a 12% increase in the risk of breast cancer

· Colorectal cancer: alcohol consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of cancers of the colon and the rectum. A meta-analysis of 57 cohort and case control studies that examined the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk showed that people who regularly drank 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately 3.5 drinks) had 1.5 times the risk of developing colorectal cancer as nondrinkers or occasional drinkers. For every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day, there was a small (7%) increase in the risk of colorectal cancer

· Immune system: drinking too much can weaken your immune system making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract disease like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections or even up to 24 hours after getting drunk

Alcohol addiction and abuse

· One of the most common addictions in America. The social acceptance of drinking can often lead to denial and if left untreated severe consequences

· Understanding alcohol: a legal, controlled substance that lowers anxiety and inhibitions. It also has a broad range of side effects: from loss of coordination to slurred speech. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, but anyone whose life is negatively affected by alcohol on a consistent basis is considered to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol is commonly consumed as a drink in various forms, including beer, wine and hard liquor

· Beer addiction and abuse: an alcoholic drink typically made from water, barley, hops and yeasts. Compares to wine or hard liquor, beer usually has the lowest alcohol content volume. Beer’s ABV ranges from about 2-12% with the most commonly consumed beers falling in the 4-6% range. For most people it takes 3-5 beers to be over the legal driving limit. Beer has become synonymous with many activities in American culture. Drinking games on college campuses revolve around it, happy hour are the go-to activity for professionals and you’d be hard pressed to find a sporting event without it. The rise of craft beer has even made beer consumption fashionable, with microbreweries and home breweries pushing the limits on what new flavors and tastes can be introduces. One unfortunate side effect of the craft beer revolution is that beers may have significantly higher amounts of alcohol than the average domestic craft-some can be as high as 11 or 12%. Even people who drink during social activities or only drink craft beer as susceptible to an alcohol use disorder. This is especially true when “social drinkers” continue to drink when everyone else has stopped or feel the need to drink during uncomfortable or boring situations

· Wine addiction and abuse: made from fermented grapes or other fruits, such as pomegranates or berries. It is most commonly old as white or red with a variety of flavor profiles. Chardonnay, pinot, grigio, Riesling and Moscato are examples of white wines while merlot, cabernet, pinot noir and zinfandel are reds. Varieties are based on grape type. Compared to beer, wine has a more concentrated amount of alcohol. An average pour of win (5oz) is equivalent in alcohol content to 12oz of beer. Wine is often consumed at dinner parties or alongside gourmet cheese and crackers. Its status as a “classy” drink can make it harder to spot when someone has a problem. Women make up 59% of wine drinkers in the United States and are often the targeted audience in advertising campaigns promoting the drink; women have less body mass and less water content than men in their bodies. When consuming wine, body water diffuses the alcohol content. This means that women have a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood stream when they drink than men. This causes women to become impaired more quickly when drinking wine and also exposes their brains and other organs to more alcohol before it’s broken down. Because of this, women may be disproportionately susceptible to a use disorder. However, either gender can develop a problem with wine. If you or someone you care about has been drinking wine frequently than intended or using it to combat anxious or depressive feelings, there may be a deeper issue at play

· Liquor addiction and abuse: liquor is the umbrella term for hard alcoholic drinks or spirits like tequila, vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. Liquor has a much higher ABV than been or win and is often mixed with sodas, juice or water. The average size of a liquor pour is 1.5oz. When not mixed into a drink, liquor is consumed as a shot or “neat”. Carbonation speeds up the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream, so drinking liquor mixed with soda can cause quicker intoxication. The lower liquid content of shots make them easier to consume, leading to a higher risk of abuse and subsequent drunkenness. Many longtime drinkers associate different drinks with different feelings of intoxication. Science has yet to prove this with studies showing that alcohol produces the same effects in everyone, regardless of the type of drink being consumed. However, the social setting in which an alcoholic beverage is consumed may impact the drinker’s perception of their own intoxication. Someone having a glass of wine at dinner is more likely to report feeling tired and happy, while tequila shots at a high-energy party can produce a vastly different kind of intoxication. Those with a severe alcohol use disorder may feel that they can’t start their day without a swig of vodka or finish it without a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Regardless of the type of liquor consumed, alcohol of any kind possesses serious addition potential

· Understanding binge drinking: a subset of problem drinkers, binge drinkers are men who consume five or more alcoholic drinks or women who consume five or more alcoholic drinks or women who consume four or more over a two-hour period. An infrequent binge drinker may be able to stop on his or her own. Someone addicted to alcohol, however, may want to stop drinking and not be able to without help. In many cases, prolonged binge drinking can develop into alcoholism

· Immediate effects of alcohol: a central nervous system depressant, so it slows down mental and bodily processes. With the first drink of alcohol, users may experience a decrease in feelings of anxiety or stress. It is commonly touted as a social lubricant, meaning drinkers are more likely to feel confidence in meeting new people and less concerned with how they are perceived by others. Because alcohol is legal and widely accepted in society, it can be hard to tell the difference between casual use and abuse. In general, any usage of alcohol that results in negative consequences is considered abuse. Some of the negative consequences of alcohol use include: physical harm or illness, strained relationships, problems at work and financial difficulty. When abuse become more frequent it can escalate into an addition

· Addiction to alcohol: also known as alcoholism, is marked by a craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking even when it causes extreme personal or social harm. Signs of an alcohol addiction include frequently drinking more than intended, wanting to stop drinking but being unable to, developing a tolerance to alcohol, feeling symptoms of withdrawal when stopping, letting personal and professional responsibilities flounder in favor of drinking and spending an extreme amount of time trying to get and drink alcohol

· High functioning alcoholics: there is a specific class of alcoholism known as high-functioning alcoholism. People who are high-functioning are capable of keeping their alcoholism from interfering in their professional and personal lives. High-functioning rarely recognize they have a problem until they face severe alcohol-related consequences. The danger of high-functioning is that it can continue for years without a person ever recognizing they have a problem

· Alcohol and other drugs: because it is so common in today’s culture, alcohol is often abused alongside other drugs. As a CNS depressant, alcohol poses a serious risk when mixed with other drugs of the same class such as benzodiazepines and some painkillers. Alcohol on its own can be dangerous, but combining it with other substances can quickly prove lethal

· Statistics of alcohol abuse and addition: 7 times: adults who first use alcohol before they turned 15 are 7 times more likely to develop alcoholism than adults who first used alcohol at the age of 21. 40+ percent: over 40% of all drug-related emergency room visits of people under the age of 20 were caused by alcohol abuse. 2 million: over 2 million people found treatment for their alcoholism in 2011

· Get help for alcohol addiction now: you don’t have to go through recovery alone. Many people who struggle with alcohol addiction find it difficult or impossible to quit without the help or support of others. There are many professionals and support groups designed to get you the help you need. Increase your chance of a full recovery with the help of a dedicated treatment center

Overview

Consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Overall, harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 5.1% of the global burden of disease. Harmful use of alcohol is accountable for 7.1% and 2.2% of the global burden of disease for males and females respectively. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15-49 years old, accounting for 10% of all deaths in this age group. Disadvantaged and especially vulnerable populations have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations.

This has been a tough one to write. Alcohol ruins many people’s lives. It makes people more selfish, self-centered and just ignorant to the things going on around them. It sometimes even shows a person true color. I don’t usually put out my personal experiences, but I can relate. Over the past few years my brother has put my grandmother through hell and back because of his issue with alcohol. Refusing to get help even when there is help there. We all have something that we struggle with, but we should never let it control our life. Alcohol has done a number on many people but remember that you can overcome this. You can beat it and you don’t need it to enjoy your life.

References

· Niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects body

· http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet

· Addictioncenter.com/alcohol

· En.wikipedia.org/wiki/alcohol_(drug)

· Drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol.html

· Drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/alcohol

· Who.int/health-topics/alcohol#tab=tab_1

addiction

About the author

MICHELLE SMITH

An inspirational poet. Writing poems to show others that it is okay to show feelings another way. I've tried a couple articles but I've found I'm better at the poetry. Just want to inspire and encourage others through tough times.

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