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
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
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
Deutsch, C., Broken Bottles, Broken Dreams: Understanding and Helping the Children of
Alcoholics, New York: Teachers College Press, 1982.