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