Alcoholism: Society's Long Ignored Problem

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Alcoholism: Society's Long Ignored Problem

By | November 2007
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"We spend billions and billions to fight drugs but, comparatively, spend nothing against alcohol. And alcohol is a drug." -- Joseph Kennedy III, 1990. Alcohol is the most abused substance in the United States, whether the user is at the legal age or not. Alcohol is the third leading cause of death nationwide and would be number one if alcohol-induced motor-vehicle deaths were included. 1 in every 13 adults abuse alcohol, which computes into roughly 14 million Americans who combat some type of alcohol abuse (7% of these are labeled alcoholics). An alcoholic is someone whose physical and/or emotional dependence on alcohol prevents them from leading a normal life. There are four phases of alcoholism. In the pre-alcoholic phase a person may seek out alcohol in social situations and feel the need to ‘loosen up' before anxiety provoking events. Soon the person displays the beginning signs of being an alcoholic. They may drink alone, experience memory lapses or blackouts, gulp drinks, and generally feel guilty about their drinking. The third phase is the crucial phase in which the person looses control of their drinking. Family and friends come second after alcohol. The person is physically dependent on alcohol and need alcohol to function normally. It is at this phase they are considered an alcoholic. Finally comes the chronic phase in which drinking starts early in the day, and the person is usually in a drunk state. A certain tolerance to alcohol may become noticeable, and if desperate enough the alcoholic will drink anything including rubbing alcohol.

The main reason alcohol is a societal problem is drunk driving. A person is considered to be driving drunk if their BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is .08 or above. Drunk driving is such a problem that 50% of all motor-vehicle deaths result from some sort of alcohol influence. This has caused the "Zero Tolerance" legislation in which states that any driver under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher is considered drunk. If a...

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