The Unknown Facts About Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages have been around since early civilization and the first record of the beverage was in China around 7000 B.C. The beverage was known as Mead and was derived from honey water and yeast. Many civilizations in the early days made their own alcoholic beverages to commemorate and celebrate events and customs. The one thing all these civilizations had in common was the brewing ingredients to make their alcoholic beverage. The most used ingredients were Fermented grain, fruit juice, and honey. They were the essential ingredients used in the brewing process.
There are a variety of alcoholic beverages that have been developed as time has passed. Some of the varieties are such as beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, tequila, and rum. Each coming from its very own native source.
Vodka is a well known alcoholic beverage which is said to have originated in Eastern Europe in Poland in the 8th century and Russia in the 9th century. It was initially used as medicine and would have had a different color as well as flavor compared to the one used today. Gin is also a beverage which started its use as medicine believed to relieve kidney and stomach ailments as well as gout. It was first created in Holland by a physician called Franciscus Sylvius.
Whiskey is also a common category of the spirits and is believed to have originated in Scotland. The first know and well-documented record traces it back to Ireland in the early 1400s. It was dubbed Aqua Vitae which is Latin meaning ”water of life”. The distillation of whiskey results in a liquor similar to vodka, however, the aging process in barrels alters its taste as well as its color. It has four main variations which are bourbon, scotch, rye and Irish.
Tequila is also a prominent alcohol beverage with its roots in the city of Tequila, Mexico. It is derived from the blue agave plant and depending on the aging it is categorized into three main categories which are Blanco, Reposado and Anejo. Rum is also well known for its alcoholic content and dates back to the 14th century and the first record of its distillation was in the Caribbean islands.
The most consumed of these beverages in today’s modern society are beer and wine. The beer was initially made from barley that was allowed to ferment in handcrafted barrels. While wine was derived from grapes. What the two beverages share in common is their origin in the Zagros mountains in Iran. Since their inception, there have been various advancements in the fermentation process to produce the different varieties that we have come to love and enjoy.
The mental effects of Alcohol
Every person is unique and hence the effects of alcohol to an individual vary with the individual in question. To understand the effects of alcohol in an individual one must first understand their blood alcohol content (BAC). It determines the effect that alcohol has on the central nervous system which is responsible for all cognitive functions of the body. This in turn simply helps distinguish between those with higher tolerance to those with a low tolerance for alcohol. Depending on your BAC, the side effects vary where those with a lower BAC percentages come down with temporary side effects that subside within a few hours while those with higher BAC percentages may come down with more serious symptoms and with time can become life-threatening. The effects of alcohol may be attributed to a variety of factors such as the amount consumed, tolerance levels of a given individual, an individual’s medical history and also other drugs that may have been mixed with the alcohol.
Physical effects of Alcohol abuse
There are some short-term effects of drinking alcohol that are common to moderate drinkers such as slurred speech, vision impairment, memory lapse, slowed breathing and lack of coordination. Excessive consumption of alcohol affects your body with time and most of the damage is mostly internal. Sometimes the harm done to the organs is discovered later on when it is hardly possible to reverse the damage. Some of the parts greatly affected by excessive alcohol consumption are the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas.
When alcohol is first ingested into the body the brain is the first to be affected. Once consumed it may lead to temporary memory loss and slowed body coordination. Prolonged use of alcohol in large amounts may lead to interference with the brain structure. This is caused by the damage it does to the different regions of the brain. The regions most affected are the cerebellum, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. These three regions play important roles in the body and when affected a person may experience a change in the body’s communication pathways hence affecting the body’s motor skills. These effects lead to loss of balance as well as memory and emotional response issues to the user.
The heart is also greatly affected by excessive consumption of alcohol as it increases triglyceride levels in the blood. Triglyceride is a type of fat in the blood and once it reaches dangerous levels it leads to the development of heart diseases which may even lead to diabetes. Short-term health effects on the heart include high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. If the user continues their drinking habits at the same or an even higher rate some of the long-term effects include cardio-myopathy and even stroke that may lead to death if not treated urgently.
Another organ that is constantly under attack when one chooses to abuse alcohol is the liver. The main function of the liver in the human body is to filter the blood from the digestive tract as well as detoxify chemicals and metabolize drugs. When alcohol is ingested at large amounts over a short period of time it may lead to building up of fats in the liver leading to obesity. If the drinking habit is continued it may lead to liver failure and even type 2 diabetes. Long-term effects of alcohol abuse on the liver range from alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and even cirrhosis.
The pancreas is also a major casualty of unregulated heavy alcoholism as well. The pancreas in the digestive system plays a major role in regulating blood sugar levels. Short-term effects of alcohol on the pancreas are often minimal and go unnoticed for a while but as it progresses in the long term it may lead to pancreatitis, where the pancreas gets swollen. This condition increases the chances of getting pancreatic cancer which is very dangerous if left untreated. Some other cancers that are commonly associated with alcohol abuse are such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, and esophageal cancer. Apart from the various types of cancers the constant consumption of alcohol also leads to the weakening of the immune system making the body an easy target for diseases. Heavy alcohol drinkers are more susceptible to pneumonia and tuberculosis than those who abstain from drinking.
Social effects of Alcohol abuse
Excessive consumption of alcohol by an individual affects them as an individual but also the society around him/her. The workplace is greatly affected when there is a colleague who is a heavy drinker as they may cause work accidents when they are working under the influence of alcohol. In Britain, researchers found that approximately 25% of workplace accidents were alcohol-related. Excessive use of alcohol also reduces the amount of productivity of an individual in the workplace as they may suffer from low concentration as well as a lack of cognitive skills as the main causes of loss in productivity.
The family unit is also greatly affected by alcohol abuse especially when one of the guardians is greatly affected by alcohol. The most greatly affected are the children who are emotionally scarred as they are more likely to face abuse and hurt by the parent who comes home drunk. Children that come from an alcoholic household are more likely to have poor academic performance as they do not get sufficient guidance and help from their parental figures. Drinking also may lead to depression of the children as well as the partner who may have constant arguments and still forced to play both roles in the family unit. If the problem persists it can cause the parents to be viewed as unfit to parent and the children sent to an orphanage or foster care where they are further disadvantaged as they may be moved from one household to another greatly affecting them mentally at their tender ages. This may lead to the children inheriting the alcoholic ways of their alcoholic parents.
Alcohol abusers have a higher chance of finding themselves in or below the poverty level. Poor work ethics may lead to a decrease in wages as they are in constant trouble with the management. Heavy alcohol use may contribute to missed employment opportunities due to being heavily hang-over which may also lead to stagnation in low paying jobs or continued unemployment. As one continually drinks their health deteriorates and one may find themselves using their money to cater for recurring medical expenses instead of investing their money in more profitable endeavors elsewhere. Drink-related offenses are also a major contributor to the rate of poverty experienced by alcoholics as they are more likely to commit offenses when they are drunk due to having poor decision-making skills and end up paying for legal help which is costly.
An increase in the amount of crime can also be connected to the increase in alcohol intake among the general populous in the area. This is mainly caused by the reduction in inhibitions where people do not think about the consequences of their actions during the time they are committing the offense as they are intoxicated. People may also resort to crime to get sufficient money to maintain their drinking habits when other channels of attaining funds are closed. Violence is also a major social problem associated with drinking where disagreements lead to the break out of fights which may lead to serious injuries as well as loss of life when they get out of control.
The spread of diseases is also made possible by excessive drinking where people engage in unprotected sexual behavior that may lead to the spread of STD’s and other diseases due to poor decision making when intoxicated. There are victims who wake up not remembering what happened and find themselves infected with an STD. Heavy drinking among the youth in college also affects their grades and if not put in check leads to dropping out of school. This would eventually lead to a decrease in the workforce that would in the future help the economy and society as a whole. A high rate of accidents on the roads can also be attributed to drank driving where the driver is heavily intoxicated and does not observe road safety rules. The rate of these accidents is usually seen to go up during festivities where there is heavy drinking and this leads to a higher mortality rate that greatly affects society.
The main causes of Alcoholism
There are various factors that may lead to one developing a drinking problem. Researchers have established that there are certain biological factors that may play a major role in influencing alcoholism. The factors are genetics where there are certain genes that may cause alcohol dependence in an individual leading to alcoholism. Physiology has also been identified to contribute to the chances of one engaging in alcoholism where one develops impulses and feelings of pleasure encouraging the repeat of the behavior. This, in turn, may lead to the development of a drinking problem as repetitive drinking would be boosted by the strong impulse to not stop.
Research has found that the proximity of a person to an alcohol-related establishments also plays a major role in determining the chances of a person indulging in the activity. Research has found that those people who live near the said establishments are more likely to have a positive outlook and are more likely to engage in drinking compared to those who live far from the establishments. Researchers also found that people within the higher income bracket are more likely to engage in the activity and have a higher chance to become hooked compared to those with a lower income in the society. Advertisements have also been identified as a major influence as it decriminalizes drinking and encourages its use as a pastime activity.
There are various social factors such as family, religion, and work that may influence the chances of an individual becoming an alcoholic. The family greatly influences the chances of one getting into alcoholism where if someone is exposed to it at an early age they are more likely to find themselves develop the want to engage in the activity. When getting into a new workplace where there is a drinking culture among colleagues may force one to engage in drinking in order to fit in. This may lead to alcohol abuse with time if not kept in check. People not strongly rooted in religious beliefs have a higher chance of getting involved in alcoholism compared to those who are strongly religious.
Psychological factors as well play a major role in the development of drinking habits. This is seen when a person experiences grief, stress, anxiety depression or just a bad day and turns to the comfort of alcohol. This may lead to the creation of a pattern where when the user feels down they quickly resort to drinking to help them cope with the tough time. The use can become habitual with time causing the body to become more tolerant and rely on the effects of alcohol. The company of friends of an individual also play a major role in the chances of developing a drinking disorder. A person who is constantly around peers who drink is more likely to fall into the habit as it is normalized and they do not see the harm in participating and may slowly find themselves addicted.
Steps taken to combat the menace
There are various ways that have come up to fight the alcohol menace. The setting up of counseling offices in learning institutions has greatly helped the younger demographic cope with peer pressure as well as deal with emotional strain if they are found to have alcoholic guardians. The counseling centers also help increase awareness about the dangers that alcoholism poses to them and society as a whole. Community centers have also been set up where people in need of help battling with alcoholism can turn to and get help. These centers have been found to help foster a good environment where people form groups where they can share their encounters within groups and keep each other in check.
Group therapy has also been found to be very effective in solving the alcoholism problem efficiently as it provides emotional support. The members each attain a sponsor who they speak to when they feel the urge to drink or when feeling stressed who is able to help them with sound advice as well as provide emotional support. They also provide advice on alternative ways to relieve one’s self from life pressure and engage in other activities that help unwind and handle stress.
Awareness is the first step in combating any major problem in society. Awareness camps have become a major way to spread awareness about alcoholism and its effects on society. These camps help shed light on the various physical, biological and environmental factors that may cause one to get dragged into alcoholism and once awareness has been provided people can be able to better know how to address the issue. In some of these camps, people are trained on how to deal with people fighting with alcoholism as well as how to counsel people on the dangers of engaging in the activity. They are also taught on how best to approach families where a member may be a strong alcoholic and help get them the necessary aid they need.
Some governments have increased the taxes on alcohol. This increase in taxes leads to an increase in the prices of the alcohol which helps deter people from drinking. In some places, it has helped reduce the frequency with which people consume it. This has been found to mainly help control the amount of consumption by the youth who are unable to maintain their rate of drinking due to higher prices. The increase in the amount of taxes has also helped increase the amount of revenue collected from the industry which can be reinvested to help create more centers as well as increase awareness.
The raising of the minimum legal drinking age has been able to curb the amount of youth who are able to participate in drinking. The age restriction helps regulate the number of people who have the right to drink and in doing so help reduce the prevalence of drinking among the youth. This helps prevent as well as reduce traffic deaths due to reckless driving among the younger demographic. Zero tolerance laws where one cannot purchase alcohol without a proper identification card indicating clearly they are above the recommended age. This method has helped reduce the availability of alcohol to the youth.
The mandate on the use of clearly readable warning labels on the containers of alcoholic beverages. They were made a requirement in order to serve as a reminder to those drinking of the fatal road accidents as well as infertility that is associated with drinking irresponsibly. Researchers found that the use of warning labels was greatly supported and led to a slight decrease in the amount taken by moderate drinkers as compared to heavy drinkers. The media has also been used to create sufficient awareness. The use of media such as radio and television as well as social media has been effective to create awareness as well concerning the harmful nature of excessive consumption of alcohol.