When is it too much?
Every year in the United States, there are approximately 80,000 deaths related to excessive drinking. These amounts of deaths place excessive drinking as the third cause of death from lifestyle choice in the US. Sadly, alcohol is readily available in a variety of forms from diluted cough syrup to pure moonshine. First and foremost, alcoholic beverages are defined as a drink containing ethanol, which induces a state called intoxication. During intoxication, speech is slurred, balance is impaired, and erratic behavior is established. These symptoms constitute the dangerous, immediate effects of alcohol. In particular, DUI, or driving under the influence, remains the cause of a large proportion of deaths in the United States. In 2010 alone, there were reported to have been over 32,000 deaths due to alcohol intoxication. So in theory, alcohol is perceived as a drug by definition due to its psychoactive nature. Retrospectively however, alcohol is a source of pastime and recreation for young adults and adults. The issue at hand seems to be when alcohol, taken in large quantities, affects the condition of an individual, which leads to erratic behavior that may potentially cause death. The most common form of this alcohol abuse is binge drinking. Another form of alcohol abuse lies in the mixture of medications and alcohol. A failure to hinder alcohol abuse increases the likelihood of the development of alcoholism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and problems in teens because of the harmful, addictive characteristics alcohol contains.
Generally, when one thinks of alcoholism, he or she immediately interchanges the phrase alcoholism and alcohol abuse. In retrospect, alcoholism and alcohol abuse share different definitions. Therefore, it becomes important to distinguish the two from one another. Alcoholism is defined as the periodic and continuous consumption of alcohol while alcohol abuse is the intentional overuse of alcohol. Based on these definitions, it is plausible for areas to overlap in practicality. The two conditions overlap in the sense that one can affect the other. For instance, the chronic disease alcoholism increases the probability that one may abuse alcohol. Four to five drinks will intoxicate an individual to the point that an onlooker will consider the act to be abuse of alcohol. This act highlights a correlation between alcoholism and alcohol abuse; thus, the inverse can be considered: alcohol abuse leads to alcoholism because of the addictive nature of the drug. The CDC has also stated that alcohol abuse leads to long-term alcohol dependence. If one is driven to alcoholism, psychological effects may surface such as impaired judgement continuously.
A dependence on alcohol even leads to liver failure, stroke, and high blood pressure. These results are simply just the long term effects. More immediately however, intoxication enables an individual to cause unintended injuries such as car crashes and fires, intended injuries such as sexual assault and domestic violence, and even unintended pregnancy. So in order to lower the likelihood that alcoholism arises, focus must be placed on alcohol abuse itself. With a lower percentage of binge drinkers, alcoholism rates are bound to decrease since the relationship between the two is directly linear. Certainly, there are methods to reducing the amounts of binge drinking. Health care providers should ask patients about excessive binge drinking and discourage the activity. On the federal scale, taxes on alcohol could be raised or hours of sale could be decreased. In communities, awareness organizations can better promote sustaining from alcohol through propaganda and informational events that highlight the negative aspects of the drug. These are effective methods to slow the progression of alcoholism.
Furthermore, alcohol abuse in the special population of women and young girls carries a significant risk of breast cancer, heart disease, STDs, and unplanned pregnancy more so than their counterparts. Approximately more than 14 million women binge drink about 3 times a month and during these binges, more than six drinks are consumed averagely. That is simply just the beginning of women’s problems. Specifically, there are women who binge drink during pregnancy. Not only does the mother suffer effects from alcohol intoxication and consumption but also her child. This act exposes the baby to high amounts of alcohol because alcohol passes in the bloodstream. High concentrations of alcohol during early pregnancy may lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Due to the likely probability of these conditions if the mother is engaged in drinking activities, the CDC strictly advises mothers not to mix alcohol and pregnancy together. Thus, it is not safe during any period
of a pregnancy to consume alcohol. One of the more common results of consuming alcohol during pregnancy are the feared fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). These disorders include but are not limited to problems with the heart, kidney, or bones, speech delay, and abnormal facial features shown in children who have FASDs. Quite obviously, no mother wishes for their child to suffer from these drastic conditions, yet there are still mothers who continue to binge drink and abuse alcohol. One explanation for this behavior is the awareness of the mother to these disorders. If a mother were to understand the risks she takes when she consumes alcohol, alcohol abuse can be deterred. Another may be that the mother has an addiction to alcohol. In these cases, friends and family should refer her to a doctor, local alcohol anonymous group, or alcohol treatment center. Whatever the case, mothers have a moral responsibility to protect their children, even if it means from herself. Since FASDs last a lifetime and are not curable, mothers should not enable the conditions to develop. But if symptoms present themselves, early intervention treatment can improve a child’s development. Pregnant women should not abuse alcohol during pregnancy because of the potential harmful side effects that develop in the child.
On the other side of special populations, teenagers exhibit a certain trait that envisions alcohol as an elaborate form of a stress reliever when abused. Quite on the contrary, alcohol does more harm than “good” for those teenagers that follow such a mentality. Since teenagers are still developing their bodies and minds, the deterioration of those functions due to alcohol poses a great threat to goals and ambitions these teenagers may have place. In 2011, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, 39% of students drank some amount of alcohol. From the data, large amounts of underage drinking occurs. One should also note that youths have began to experiment with alcohol and medications, leading to dangerous concoctions. For instance, medication specifically proclaims that alcohol should not be mixed due to highly active interaction between the two substances are abused. Alcohol, like some medicines, can make one sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Drinking alcohol while taking medicines can intensify these effects. The abuse of drugs, therefore, should be highly avoided. In any circumstance, youths who consume alcohol are more likely to
develop psychological, social, and even legal problems more so than adults. For example, underage drinking creates changes in brain development that may have lifelong effects. One study has shown that underage drinking also increases suicidal tendencies in youths. In 2012, there was a Malawi student who committed suicide after binge drinking; he hung himself on a tree with three neckties merely ten meters away from his home. Family members suspect the drinking and eventual suicide were due to depression. But focus should not be shifted from binge drinking to depression. While depression is most certainly a factor, binge drinking’s ability to cloud one’s judgement and cause erratic behavior may very well have ultimately led to the student’s death. If he had not been binge drinking, perhaps his fate would have been different. Alcohol, by nature, intoxicates an individual to the point that he or she does not have control. Thus, youths who for the majority have little experience dealing with alcohol should at all costs avoid the abuse of it.
In conclusion, the abuse of alcohol damages an individual mentally and physically to the point that there no longer exists any control by the character. In such events, unintended results may occur such as unplanned pregnancy or even a motor accident. Because alcohol has become a recreational drug, abuse happens easily and is coached by the community. This community includes but is not limited to friends who exert peer pressure, the media which glorifies intoxication, and the silent neighborhood that does nothing to hinder the spread of alcohol. Thus, the only logical approach is for an active community to educate and advocate the abstinence of alcohol use. Without such aid, alcohol abuse could be a rampant problem. Even special populations such as a pregnant woman or a young adult face problems; they are not excluded. The babies that alcohol abusing mothers could develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The young adults who binge drink and mix alcohol and medications could suffer from what is ultimately brain damage. Excessive drinking causes approximately 80,000 deaths annually in the United States. As a result, excessive drinking is the third cause of death from lifestyle choice in the US. Drinking alcohol is a lifestyle choice. Lifestyle choices are not absolute. They are breakable. They are changing. They can be controlled and if controlled,
those 80,000 deaths per year will drastically decrease. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that, so make the right choice. Works Cited
“Binge Drinking: A Serious, Under-Recognized Problem Among Women and Girls.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 08 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 July 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 08 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 July 2013.
“Did You Know….” NIAAA Publications. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2013. .
“Fact Sheets – Binge Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 07 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 July 2013.
“Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 July 2013. “Frequently Asked Questions- Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 07 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 July 2013. “National.” Malawi Student Commits Suicide after Binge Drinking. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2013. “Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption.” The Community Guide-. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2013.