Alcohol is a significant part of the fabric of society. Attend a social gathering of almost any kind and you’re likely to find alcohol there. Furthermore, visit the campuses of a college or university around the country and you’re sure to run into stories of binge drinking and all-nighter parties. In fact, the U.S. beverage alcohol industry is a major contributor to the economy, responsible for more than $400 billion in total U.S. economic activity per year, generating nearly $100 billion in wages and more than 4 million jobs for U.S. workers. Despite the acceptance of society to drink alcohol and even society’s acceptance to drink rather heavily, alcohol is a substance that kills people every day.
Our acceptance of drinking turns into judgment when we are faced with an alcoholic. Someone on the street, for instance, who apparently doesn’t know how to control their alcohol intake we judge. Someone who appears to be using alcohol to mask his or her problems on a regular basis we judge.
There’s an escape in alcohol especially when we drink enough to experience a “buzz” or get drunk. It takes away problems and feelings that we’d rather not have. It takes away our problems. And according to the logic of our society, it’s okay to do this as long as it doesn’t get out of control. And it’s okay to do this as long as it doesn’t become something you do for the rest of your life.
But these acceptances are dangerous as we see in consequences such as car accidents, fights, alcohol poisoning, rapes, crime, not to mention the consequences to our health. Of course, alcohol in excessive amounts can lead to medical disease and illness. And, it can also lead to psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. The risks associated with alcohol abuse and addiction is especially true for those who binge drink or drink heavily on a regular basis.
However, even when drinking is not heavy to the point of drunkenness, health problems can still arise. Alcohol kills by harming the body each time it’s used. The body will begin to deteriorate in a variety of ways. For instance, long-term alcohol consumption can affect nearly every organ in the body, including the brain. Alcohol taken in on a regular basis impedes nutrient breakdown and impairs the ability to assimilate those nutrients.
When an individual has a glass of wine or a pint of beer, the alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly. Depending on whether there is food in the stomach or not, the body will absorb the alcohol more or less quickly. For instance, foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats can make the user’s body absorb alcohol more slowly. During this time, an individual begins to feel the effects of alcohol, such as numbness, slurred speech, slowed reactions, and a loose mood. In time, the alcohol leaves the body through the breath, perspiration, and urine. The amount of alcohol that doesn’t leave the body through these methods is metabolized in the body.
Of course, heavy drinking can affect coordination, thiamine deficiency, and other forms of poor nutrition. Alcoholism can lead to illnesses having to do with the heart, such as hypertension and an irregular heartbeat. It can also cause impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, pancreatitis, stroke, confusion, and amnesia. Alcoholism can also wreak havoc on the functioning of the brain as well. And the effects of alcohol on one’s health is worse if there is an addiction. When someone is in the height of his or her drinking, 50 percent of their calorie intake is derived from the alcohol.
Alcohol is a liquid that is colorless, flammable, and comes in various forms. The form that is most commonly known is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the kind of alcohol used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol.
Although this substance is so readily available and so easily accepted in society, it’s damage is incredible. As one teacher of well being put it, making the choice to never drink, even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol, is making a choice of sobriety for all of us.
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