The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism

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12/7/11
Biology 205
The Causes and Effects of Alcoholism
In the United States there are approximately 79,000 deaths annually attributed to excessive alcohol use (NASAIC, 2011). Alcoholism is defined as a medical disease or a neurological disorder. Alcoholism is essentially when a person continues to drink, even when health, work, or family are being harmed (NCBI et al, 2011). Alcohol is not an issue when enjoyed in moderation and responsibly, this however is not always the case. 18.3 million people in the U.S. are "heavy drinkers”; among these are 12.1 million people who have one or more symptoms of alcoholism (NCBI et al, 2011). Some of the many symptoms of alcoholism are hostility when asked about drinking, inability to stop or reduce alcohol intake, or making excuses to drink. The number of problem drinking in the U.S. has increased 8.2 percent since 1980 and with the growing acceptance of alcohol this number is at risk of rising in the near future (NCBI et al, 2011). Problem drinking can be defined in two categories, alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is when a person “binge” drinks as way to escape from personal problems. Alcohol dependence is when a person has an addiction to alcohol and cannot control how much they drink. The person simply cannot just have one drink of alcohol without feeling the need to become intoxicated. The highest prevalence of alcohol dependence and abuse is among ages 18-24. Over 80 percent of college presidents in the U.S. identify alcohol abuse as the biggest problem on campus (nd.edu et al, 2003). College students are in the ideal environment to develop a drinking disorder. Students are away from their families and are caring for themselves for often the first time in their lives. With the increase in responsibility in their lives students can find themselves stressed and confused. These factors only lead to students drinking amongst other students in efforts to fit in or as an escape from their studies or other social problems. However, drinking too much and regularly only leads to even more social and physical problems in the future and possibly for the rest of their lives. Alcoholism is something that should not just be seen as a socially devastating disease. The life of a person with alcoholism is controlled by their alcohol addiction. The many short term effects of alcohol are minor compared to the long term health concerns from excessively abusing alcohol. Public health organizations are utilizing new methods of prevention and research to combat the further rise in this disease. Demographics

Though there are risk factors for developing alcoholism there is no definite cause of the disease. A history of alcoholism in a person’s family definitely increases their risks of developing the disorder. This theory has been validated throughout the years utilizing twins in adoption cases growing up in different families. Current research concludes that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, but the identity and function of which genes are still unknown (NCBI et al, 2011). Ethnic and religious background can also play a role in the development of alcoholism, in relation to the culture's lifestyles and acceptance of alcohol. Cultural, religious values and expectations towards alcohol vary and can either promote or disapprove drinking. Members of different ethnic and cultural groups generally show preferences for different types of alcoholic beverages, which can affect their access and alcohol exposure. Other factors such as a race’s reaction to alcohol can affect the prevalence of drinking. For example, blacks are 3 times more likely to develop an alcohol related disease than white (NIAA et al, 2005). The SAMHSA National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that 3.5% of people in their entire sample could be classified as alcohol dependent. Caucasian and black surveyors had a similar rate of 3.4 percent of alcohol dependence (NIAA et al, 2005)....
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