The Causes and Effects of Alcohol Abuse
For about 10% to 12% of the 140 million adults in the United States who drink, the use of alcohol develops into addiction. Alcoholism in men is approximately two to three times greater than in women (14% of male drinkers vs. 6% of female drinkers). In addition onset of alcoholism usually occurs at a younger age in men than in women (Fay, 1998). In terms of consumption 20% of drinkers consume 80% of all alcohol (Babor, 2010).
There has been an abundance of research done on this topic. Family studies, twin studies, animal studies, and adoption studies are showing stronger and stronger genetic influences particularly in severe alcoholism (Black, 2010) A recent twin study that assessed alcohol-related disorders among 3,516 twins in Virginia concluded that the genetic influence was 48% to 58% of the various influences, a rate much higher than one thought in the past (Fay, 1998). It is theorized that several genes have an influence on one's susceptibility to alcoholism and other drug addictions. A person could have one, several, or all of the genes that make a person susceptible to addiction not just a single gene such as the dopamine, however a D2 allele receptor gene that governs the number of dopamine receptor sites in the reward pathway of the brain that signals euphoria (Fishman, 2005). Alcoholsim has many long term effetcs. Most psychoactive drugs affect a single type of receptor or neurotransmitter, i.e., anandamide receptor for marijuana; endorphin receptor for heroin; or norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine neurotransmitters for cocaine. Alcohol on the other hand interacts with receptors, neurotransmitters, cell membranes, intracellular signaling enzymes, and even genes (Fay, 1998). Since 80% of the alcohol drunk passes through the liver and must be metabolized, high-dose and chronic drinking inevitably affect this crucial organ. Approximately 10% to 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic...
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