Alcohol : It's affects and liabilities Term Paper

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Alcohol, its a substance that has become a part of much of the social settings in today's world.

Many people can say they have drank alcohol and most can even remember their first sip of

beer. Whether, it was given unto us by our parents or at a social engagement everyone has

encountered alcohol in their lives. But as responsible have we ever stopped to realize that we

are taking a drug in to our system that is both harmful and addictive. We never stop to realize

these affect and liabilities held when consuming alcohol.

Alcoholism is a chronic and usually progressive illness involving the excessive

inappropriate ingestion of ethyl alcohol, whether in the form of familiar alcoholic beverages or

as a constituent of other substances. Alcoholism is thought to arise from a combination of a

wide range of physiological, psychological, social, and genetic factors. It is characterized by an

emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol, and it frequently leads to brain damage or

early death.

Some ten percent of the adult drinkers in the United States are considered

alcoholics or at least they experience drinking problems to some degree. More males than

females are affected, but drinking among the young and among women is increasing.

Consumption of alcohol is apparently on the rise in the United States, countries of the former

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and many European nations. This is paralleled by growing

evidence of increasing numbers of alcohol-related problems in other nations, including the

Third World.

Alcoholism, as opposed to merely excessive or irresponsible drinking, has been

variously thought of as a symptom of psychological or social stress or as a learned, maladaptive

coping behavior. More recently, and probably more accurately, it has come to be viewed as a

complex disease entity in its own right. Alcoholism usually develops over a period of years.

Early and subtle symptoms include placing excessive importance on the availability of alcohol.

Ensuring this availability strongly influences the person's choice of associates or activities.

Alcohol comes to be used more as a mood-changing drug than as a foodstuff or beverage

served as a part of social custom or religious ritual.

Initially, the alcoholic may demonstrate a high tolerance to alcohol,

consuming more and showing less adverse effects than others. Subsequently, however, the

person begins to drink against his or her own best interests, as alcohol comes to assume more

importance than personal relationships, work, reputation, or even physical health. The person

commonly loses control over drinking and is increasingly unable to predict how much alcohol

will be consumed on a given occasion or, if the person is currently abstaining, when the

drinking will resume again. Physical addiction to the drug may occur, sometimes eventually

leading to drinking around the clock to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol has direct toxic as well as sedative effects on the body, and failure to take

care of nutritional and other physical needs during prolonged periods of excessive drinking

may further complicate matters. Advanced cases often require hospitalization. The effects on

major organ systems are cumulative and include a wide range of digestive-system disorders

such as ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas, and cirrhosis of the liver. The central and

peripheral nervous systems can be permanently damaged. Blackouts, hallucinations, and

extreme tremors may occur. The latter symptoms are involved in the most serious alcohol

withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens, which can prove fatal despite prompt treatment. This

is in contrast to withdrawal from narcotic drugs such as heroin, which, although distressful,

rarely results in death. Recent evidence has shown that heavy and even moderate drinking

during pregnancy can cause serious damage to the unborn child: physical or mental retardation

or both; a rare but severe expression of this damage is known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Treatment of the illness increasingly recognizes alcoholism itself as the primary

problem needing attention, rather than regarding it as always secondary to another, underlying

problem. Specialized residential treatment facilities and separate units within general or

psychiatric hospitals are rapidly increasing in number. As the public becomes more aware of

the nature of alcoholism, the social stigma attached to it decreases, alcoholics and their families

tend to conceal it less, and diagnosis is not delayed as long. Earlier and better treatment has led

to encouragingly high recovery rates.

In addition to managing physical complications and withdrawal states, treatment

involves individual counseling and group therapy techniques aimed at complete and

comfortable abstinence from alcohol and other mood-changing drugs of addiction. Such

abstinence, according to the best current evidence, is the desired goal, despite some highly

controversial suggestions that a safe return to social drinking is possible. Addiction to other

drugs, particularly to other tranquilizers and sedatives, poses a major hazard to alcoholics.

Antabuse, a drug that produces a violent intolerance for alcohol as long as the substance

remains in the body, is sometimes used after withdrawal. Alcoholics Anonymous, a support

group commonly used for those undergoing other treatment, in many cases helps alcoholics to

recover without recourse to formal treatment.

Despite these encouraging signs, estimates of the annual number of deaths related

to excessive drinking exceed 97,000 in the United States alone. Economic costs related to

alcoholism are at least $100 billion a year. Additional data are needed on various societal costs

of alcoholism as well as on the costs of various modes of treatment compared with their actual


Legally, A person who provides alcohol to a minor ( a person under the age of 21), can be

held liable and prosecuted against for criminal negligence and misconduct. Not to mention, the

corruption and abuse of a minor. A person is also liable for their actions for providing alcohol

to anyone in their home and residence. And could be found from the same charges as the ones

above to murder for allowing people to drive drunk and or die of alcohol poisoning.

With all we know of alcohol and its affects why should we take that sip of beer when nothing

good will come of it.


Ackerman, R. J., Children of Alcoholics: A Bibliography and Resource Guide, Deerfield Beach,

Florida: Health Communications Publications, 1990.

Barnard, C. P., Families With An Alcoholic Member, New York: Human Sciences Press, 1990.

Bier, W. C. (ed.), Problems in Addiction: Alcohol and Drug Addiction, New York: Fordham

University, 1962.

Deutsch, C., Broken Bottles, Broken Dreams: Understanding and Helping the Children of

Alcoholics, New York: Teachers College Press, 1982.

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