“In Australia the drinking of alcoholic beverages is legally and socially accepted, however excessive drinking has now become a major health & social problem. Discuss”
Alcohol abuse is a social problem that has largely increased over the years due to the increasing number of adolescents being introduced to this substance either by there parents, brothers and sisters or even there peers.
Alcohol is a compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which can be combined together in many different ways. There are many different kinds of alcohol, the commonest being called ethyl alcohol.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused drugs in contemporary Australian society. While attractions, pleasures and possible benefits of alcohol consumptions may be debated, there is little argument about the debilitating effect and enormous costs of heavy drinking and alcoholism on the health of individuals, families, and society in general.
The main reason why people’s health and social acceptability have decreased is due to alcoholism. Alcoholism is characterised by an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol, and it frequently leads to brain damage or early death. Over the last 10 years, more males than females have been affected by alcoholism, but drinking among the adolescent and among women is increasing
Alcohol has been used medically throughout recorded history; its medical properties are even mentioned 191 times in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. As early as the turn of the century there was evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with a decrease in the risk of heart attack. The evidence of health benefits of moderate consumption has continued to grow over time. A review of research evidence from 1900 to 1986 found a strong, consistent relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduction in cardiovascular disease in general and coronary artery disease in particular.
Alcoholism usually develops over a period of years. The consumption of Alcohol comes to be used more as a mood-changing drug than as a foodstuff or beverage served as a part of social custom or religious ritual.
Initially, the alcoholic may demonstrate a high tolerance to alcohol, consuming more and showing fewer adverse effects than others. Subsequently, however, the person begins to drink against his or her own best interests, as alcohol comes to assume more importance than personal relationships, work, reputation, or even physical health. The person commonly loses control over drinking and is increasingly unable to predict how much alcohol will be consumed on a given occasion or, if the person is currently abstaining, when the drinking will resume.
A Physical addiction to the drug (alcohol) may occur, sometimes eventually leading to drinking around the clock to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol has a sedative effects on the body, and failure to take care of nutritional and other physical needs during prolonged periods of excessive drinking may further complicate matters and the need for hospitalisation is required.
Alcohol affects the coordination and balance, causing the drinker to stagger, to fall or be unable to hold a lit match steadily. Although alcohol depresses bodily functions, it often stimulates inhibitions. The Emotions of the drinker are more easily expressed because that part of the brain, which enables us to control our behaviour, is depressed or relaxed, so the emotions become exhilarated. Alcohol also effects the major organ systems are cumulative and include a wide range of digestive-system disorders such as ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas, cirrhosis of the liver, Cardiovascular problems, an increased risk of cancer to the mouth, tongue pharynx (back of the throat), larynx (voice box), esophageus, stomach, and liver, malnutrition, Psychological problems and in females Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) due to drinking whilst pregnant.
The central and peripheral nervous systems may also be permanently damaged due to excess consumption of alcohol, Blackouts, hallucinations (Psychosis), and extreme tremors may occur. The latter of these symptoms are involved in the most serious alcohol withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens, which can prove fatal despite prompt treatment.
The Liver diseases that can be sustained due to alcohol include “fatty liver,” hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Severe thiamine deficiency can cause heart failure, usually combined with enema (fluid collection in the tissues). Alcohol increases the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Others disorders associated with high alcohol consumption include gastritis, pancreatitis, neuritis (nervous disorder), and peptic ulcer.
Alcohol in large quantities also causes sterility and impotence, and it tends to slow down the functions of a developing foetus, just as it slows down the functions of body cells and organs. It may well result in structural and functional disorders in the child, including retardation. These disorders, known as “foetal alcohol syndrome,” include incomplete limb development, facial deformities and abnormal brain development, leading to impairment of intellectual and motor (movement) abilities.