Ivy Tech Community College
Alcohol and its Effects Alcohol can be a very harmful substance. Alcohol can be abused, and people can get addicted to it like any other drug. It can impair coordination and judgment as well as a lot of other things. Alcohol can also have long term effects on the organs in the body. It can affect people psychologically as well as behaviorally. Many deaths that occur each day are caused by alcohol. Consuming alcohol affects a lot of things that people do not realize. Psychoactive drugs affect the nervous system (Seymour & Smith, 2013). These types of drugs affect consciousness and moods. Types of psychoactive drugs include depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens (King, 2013). Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system causing decreased blood pressure and heart rate (Grunberg, Berger, & Hamilton, 2011). Depressants mainly slow down, or depress, the activity in the brain. Alcohol stimulates dopamine neurons in the VTA or the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain (Olsen, 2011). The VTA and the NAc (nucleus accumbens-olfactory tubercle complex) make up the dopamine reward circuit, which reinforces the effects of drugs (Olsen, 2011). This reinforcement makes the user feel good, and they associate alcohol with this pleasurable feeling. Other areas of the body besides the brain are affected by alcohol consumption. Some major organs it can affect include the heart, stomach, and the liver. Frequent use of alcohol is a major cause of cardiomyopathy, which is a chronic disease of the heart (Manzo-Avalos & Saavedra-Molina, 2010). The muscles of the heart become flaccid and can even degenerate. If the heart muscles are weakened, this means the heart isn’t working correctly, and the heart cannot pump blood through the body as efficiently as it should. When alcohol is consumed, it is absorbed fairly quickly in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Alcohol can
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