Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world. There are many dangers to using alcohol because of the negative effects. Alcohol is widely debated as to whether or not it should be outlawed as it was in the early 1900s. Now that there is more awareness about how dangerous and addicting alcohol is a lot of people are becoming more attentive to seeing the warning signs of alcoholism in friends and family members that may be affected.
What does alcohol do to the body?
Alcohol increases dopamine while at the same time affects other parts of the brain, not always in a good way. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that releases chemicals (like endorphins) that allows the body to feel pleasure. Alcohol reaches the brain via the blood brain barrier and increases dopamine levels. Alcohol can damage almost every organ in the human body. There are acute and chronic effects. Chronic effects include gastritis, esophagitis, ulcers, cirrhosis of the liver, weakened heart muscles, high blood pressure, and pancreatitis. Acutely, alcohol is the cause of many traffic violations and accidents, violence, and crime.
Because alcohol increases dopamine, Gabbas reaction to alcohol affects inhibitions which often times isn’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties. Most teens’ brains are not fully developed which causes alcohol to be more affective in regards to gabba, dopamine and serotonin. Alcohol affects are not simple. They are very complicated and affect almost every part of the brain, even in small amounts. Drinking alcohol isn’t as simple as drinking, feeling good, feeling bad, then repeat if wanted and a human brain should never be taken for granted.
How does alcohol affect women differently than men?
Physically speaking, women will have more health problems than men including cirrhosis of the liver, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Women also have more psychological problems than men do when they become alcoholics. For men, drinking alcohol is more accepted than women. This is primarily because women are expected to play the role of the nurturing mother and wife whereas men are full of power and head of the household. When women have a drinking problem it is typically confronted faster than a man and men are more likely to divorce alcoholic women. Most women are completely uneducated in the area of how alcohol affects women; therefore without greater awareness, women are attaining illnesses and cancers than can be preventable.
There are two stages of alcohol withdrawal; the early minor syndrome and the late major syndrome. The early symptoms typically appear 8-12 hours after the end of a drinking session. Symptoms include muscle cramps, agitation, vomiting, nausea, vivid dreaming, and irregular heartbeat. Symptoms usually disappear within 48 hours. The late major withdrawal symptoms appear about 2 days after the early symptoms start. These symptoms include disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. Hallucinations can be terrifying and are seen as small animals, birds, or rodents. Alcohol is one of the only drugs you can die from as a result of withdrawal.
Antabuse and Naltrexone
Antabuse is prescribed to people who are fighting alcohol addiction. This drug has a very long half life and once the drug is established in the person’s body it can get in the way of the breakdown of the alcohol by getting rid of aldehyde dehydrogenase which is an enzyme. The enzyme typically plays a part in breaking down the acetaldehyde which if not broken down it would be very lethal to a body. Basically what happens is the person will feel very ill when they drink alcohol because the acetaldehyde will stay present. People who use Antabuse must be monitored very closely because if they do ingest alcohol beyond a certain point, it can be deadly.
Naltrexone works a little differently. This drug blocks the receptor to the brain that causes pleasure. There has been controversy as to whether or not this drug is effective and it is shown that this drug is only effective to some people and that is to people who drink for pleasure. This drug blocks any pleasure that is associated with drinking.