Aclohol and Decision Making

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Alcohol consumption involves a large variety of decisions. Some are strategic, setting commitments for future behavior. For example, should I begin drinking, should I ever drive with people who have been drinking, should I look for friends who drink less?. Others are more tactical, responding to immediate situations. For example should I have this beer now, should I call my parents to take me home, instead of going with my date that has had three beers in the last hour? Some decisions involve drinking itself, whereas others involve managing its consequences. Some are made alone, whereas others are made in social settings. Some are made while sober, whereas others are made while under the influence.

To make these decisions well, people must balance the risks and perceived benefits of alcohol use in ways that are in their own best interest. There is enough reason to believe, however, that these decisions are not being made well. Indeed, many of our society's responses to alcohol involve efforts to change how people, especially young people, make such decisions. These efforts include public service announcements, warning labels, high school health classes, and self-help groups. Other societal responses reflect a belief that people's decision-making processes are not to be trusted. These include legal restrictions on consuming and serving alcohol. Alcohol interferes with a person's perception of reality and ability to make good decisions. This can be particularly hazardous for kids and teens that have less problem-solving and decision-making experience. The short-term effects of drinking include: distorted vision, hearing, and coordination, altered perceptions and emotions, impaired judgment, which can lead to accidents, drowning, and other risky behaviors like unsafe sex and drug use, bad breath, and also hangovers. The long-term effects include: cirrhosis and cancer of the liver, loss of appetite, serious vitamin deficiencies, stomach ailments, heart and central...
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