Alcohol Dependence and its Effects

Drunken people at Oktoberfest

The harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 3.3 million people annually. There are 60 different types of diseases where alcohol plays a significant causal role. Moving through the countryside, and even in my society, the rate of alcohol consumption is very high. After having found out about this, I was motivated to write something about alcoholism. People who drink immediately after waking up in the morning are called “eye opener drinkers” and are a common sight in the community. They are addicted to alcohol.

Alcohol consumption is part of our daily lives. It is consumed and enjoyed in most developed and developing countries around the world. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant even though it is commonly mistaken to be a stimulant. Alcohol is a generic term for ethanol, which is found in drinks intended for human consumption. Other forms of alcohol, including methanol, are more toxic for humans than ethanol and therefore not suitable for human consumption. Alcohol is produced when certain food stuffs such as barley, grapes and hops are fermented by combining yeast and sugar.

People consume alcohol for a wide variety of reasons and in different social and cultural contexts. They may drink for sociability, cultural participation, religious observance or as a result of peer pressure. Individuals may also drink for pleasure, relaxation, mood alteration, enhanced creativity, intoxication, addiction, boredom, to overcome inhibitions or to escape or forget.

Whatever the reason, most of us have consumed some kind of alcohol at some point in our lives. One of the main perceived benefits of drinking alcohol is that it is liberating and empowering. The immediate pleasurable effect of drinking alcohol is to relax, to reduce inhibitions and to promote a sense of freedom and well-being. This is often experienced as heightened confidence.

Moderate use of alcohol is usually accepted. However, alcohol is commonly misused. When this occurs, it can have drastic effects on the consumer. Although it varies between individuals, there is a relationship between the concentration of alcohol in the blood and its effects.

Psychological Effects
Prolonged alcohol use can lead to psychological damage. Research has demonstrated a strong association between alcohol misuse and mood disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. For example, studies have found that people with alcohol disorders often suffer from some kind of depression whereby, in order to relieve the symptoms of the depression, they will often embark on excessive alcoholic use, which in turn exacerbates their depression.

The prevalence of depression in alcohol abusing/dependent individuals ranges from 15% to 70%, including primary depression. Changes in personality, such as increased irritability, impaired reasoning and poor judgement are said to be consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. It is suggested that the consumption of large amounts of alcohol may increase the severity of common symptoms associated with schizophrenia, such as hallucinations.

Alcohol consumption can have adverse social and economic effects on the individual drinker, the drinker’s immediate environment and society as a whole. Indeed, individuals other than the drinker can be affected, for example, in traffic accidents or as victims of violence.

Social Effects
Excessive use of alcohol can have an adverse impact not only on the individual user, but also on the general community. Heavy alcohol use has been implicated in increased incidents of violent crime. Family units are often affected if one member of the family is a heavy alcohol user. Family issues such as marital breakup, domestic violence and spousal abuse are strongly tied to increased consumption of alcohol.

Risky behaviour, such as drinking and driving and inappropriate sexual conduct, are also common practices linked to alcohol use. Alcohol is also considered to be a causal factor in most traffic accidents. Financial problems and job loss are also associated with high-risk alcohol use. The work force is impacted as the excessive use of alcohol can have a detrimental affect on one’s personality and judgement.

Drinking can impair how a person performs as a parent, a partner as well as how he/she contributes to the functioning of the household. It can have lasting effects on partners and children, for instance through home accidents and violence.

Children can suffer Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders when mothers drink during pregnancy. After birth, parental drinking can lead to child abuse and numerous other impacts on the child’s social, psychological and economic environment. The impact of drinking on family life can include substantial mental health problems for other family members, such as anxiety, fear and depression.

Drinking outside the home can mean less time spent at home. The financial costs of purchasing alcohol and of related medical treatment, as well as lost wages can leave other family members destitute. When men drink, it often primarily affects the female members of the family who may need to contribute more to the income of the household and who run an increased risk of violence or HIV infection.

Social and economic costs include the negative economic impact of alcohol consumption on the material welfare of society as a whole. They comprise both direct costs – the value of goods and services delivered to address the harmful effects of alcohol, and indirect costs – the value of personal productive services that are not delivered as a consequence of drinking. Estimating the costs of the impact of alcohol on the material welfare of society is often difficult and requires estimates of the social costs of treatment, prevention, research, law enforcement, lost productivity and some measure of years and quality of life lost.

For the effective control of alcohol in a society, a holistic approach is required which adequately addresses social, economic, cultural, traditional, and other realities. For a change to occur in any society, there has to be a healthy balance between policies and infrastructure, between law implementation and the socio-cultural aspirations of people.

Ultimately, alcohol control is a matter of changing attitudes which can be accelerated by means of realistic regulations, adequate education, and empowerment of people. In order for alcohol restriction to be successful, a proper mechanism needs to be put in place at the policy level for implementing, monitoring, and evaluation. A national consensus has to be taken in order to lend weight to this important social action.

For a movement for alcohol controlling activities to be sustainable, the community and the individuals in it should be ready to abstain from drinking alcohol.  A change to a healthy lifestyle, i.e. an alcohol-free life, is possible if people do this of their own free will and in their own interests and not because they are forced to do so.

Credits

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Drunken people at Oktoberfest Drunken people at Oktoberfest Usien CC BY-SA 3.0

Discussion (8 Comments)

  1. Very good Ashish. I am sure this article will definitively helps to change the society.

  2. It,s obeslly long time effects of alcohal CNS problam other pSchychological problams of human

    Good article sir

  3. Alcoholism is a disease that creates temporary madness and insanity. Drug addiction is a disease that destroys health and humanity. I think its motivate to younsters to AVOID drugs. I am Glad sure that Youth take his Respponsibilty for his country because It is not alcohal or heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality.

  4. Inspired from your article brother n hoping this article will lead some positive changes.
    Keep it up.

  5. A very enlightening and an informative article! People should think twice before drinking especially because of the linkages it has to domestic viloence and family problems. A very good read. Do keep posting such articles uncle. 👍👍

  6. A very enlightening and an informative article! People should think twice before drinking especially because of the linkages it has to domestic viloence and family problems. A very good read. Do keep posting such articles uncle. 👍👍

  7. The article is well written. I liked the description of social aspect of the alcohol dependence.

  8. Really a worth reading article,Thank you brother for sharing your ideas about the adverse effect of alcohol consumption in our society I am damn sure this will be the big step to live the healthy life style.