Chronic alcoholism is a chronic mental disease. It is a progressive kind of substance abuse, characterized by addiction to alcohol, with mental and physical dependence on it. Alcoholism is characterized by loss of control over the amount of alcohol drunk, increasing tolerance to alcohol ( an increase of alcohol doses required to achieve satisfaction), withdrawal syndrome, toxic lesions of organs, as well as memory lapses on the individual events that took place during the period of intoxication. People suffering from alcoholism are often referred as alcoholics. This paper will examine the problem of alcoholism and its effect on human’s brain as well as a society as a whole.
Action of Alcohol
When a man is drinking alcohol, human brain receives appropriate signals. These signals come to human’s brain. Ultimately, they affect the speech, coordination, perception of reality, etc. Alcohol makes human badly understand what is happening around him. This state of person under the influence of alcohol has been called alcohol myopia. In addition, alcohol makes logical thinking difficult. Moreover, drunken person becomes aggressive and does not often show socially acceptable behavior. The sober person can cope with feelings of aggressiveness of the other person, considering their behavior from different points of view. Alcohol impairs the ability to see the situation as a whole, to respond to it in a rational way and increases the aggressive potential.
Addiction is the combination of physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena in which alcohol consumption is beginning to occupy the first place in the patient's value system. For the diagnosis, the patient should have at least 3 of the following symptoms that have arisen during the year: a strong desire or need to drink alcohol, violation of the ability to control the use of alcohol that is the beginning and the end of use and dosage, withdrawal state, increased tolerance. The progressive loss of alternative interests in favor of alcohol abuse, increase the time required for the acquisition, alcohol or recover from its effects is also factors under consideration. Also, addiction is characterized by continued alcohol use despite obvious harmful effects, such as liver damage, depression after periods of heavy substance use, the decline in cognitive function due to alcohol abuse. For most doctors, dependence syndrome is the enough reason to make the diagnosis alcoholism, which is characterized by a group of symptoms of different combinations and degrees of severity.
The beginning and during the withdrawal is limited in time. It corresponds to the doses of alcohol drunk before. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be characterized by mental disorders (eg, anxiety, depression, sleep disorder). Sometimes they can be called conditionally designated stimulus in the absence of immediately preceding use. Withdrawal is a manifestation of the dependence syndrome. Dependence is created in the human brain. Addicted brain is the main reason of alcoholism.
Addiction in the Human Brain
According to Rinker, in human brain, there are chains linking two areas of the brain that are involved in the formation of addiction to alcohol. Two areas of the brain - the amygdala and the ventral tegmental area - are involved in the formation of alcohol addiction. The amygdala reacts in situations of stress and all sorts of trouble; the ventral tegmental area is responsible for the necessary for the survival a sense of fun while having a meal. However, the mechanism is capable of forming narcotic addiction as well. These two objects are identified as a functional chain formed by long interneurons that produce a substance called corticotropin-releasing hormone. When blocking the connection between these two areas of the brain, rats do no longer drink alcohol. Thus, these two areas of the brain that modulate stress and pleasure are part of the functional chain which is responsible for immoderate alcohol consumption.
A study by Rinker shows that the use of alcohol which is physiological stressor activates corticotropin-releasing hormone producing neurons in the amygdala, which directly affect the ventral tegmental area. Although the study was conducted on mice, it can be assumed that in humans, everything will be the same. When someone drinks alcohol, neurons in the amygdala are activated and influence on the ventral tegmental area, where the reaction of award encourages excessive use of alcohol and alcoholism.
Social Consequences of Alcoholism
It was found that alcoholism began to grow with an increase in the welfare of the population in the XIX century. The World Health Organization estimates that in the 2010s there were about 140 million patients in the world. Thus, alcoholism is the problem not just of one particular addicted person. It also applies to their surrounding, the working environment, and family relations. Alcoholism as a social problem has a huge impact on the whole society, destroying the very foundation of its successful existence. Every person is an integral part of the whole society where the development level depends on the people's health, their psychological maturity, responsibility, and commitment to excellence. Thus, people with alcoholism fall into the abyss not only themselves but also drag the whole society.
The social aspect of alcohol dependence involves many components that affect almost all aspects of society. A patient with alcohol dependence drops out of the course of a normal life. Such people are likely to commit offenses, they are in conflict, lose the ability to productive communication and adequate problem solving. Dependence on alcohol inevitably leads to lower qualifications of any expert, and often the loss of work. Joint life with an alcoholic becomes unbearable: the family breaks up, most close people refuse from the addicted person.
The health extinguishing under the influence of alcohol requires significant material investments for its maintenance. Alcohol abuse affects the reproductive function. A number of genetic abnormalities are growing; in drinking women, the risk of infertility, miscarriage, and complications in childbirth increases. Alcohol causes deadly diseases and a complete degradation of the working population. Injuries under the influence of alcohol in the production account for a large percentage of accidents which result in fatal consequences. Also, a serious problem is driving under the influence of alcohol.
However, despite such serious consequences from drinking, consumption of products is growing, and age of people using alcohol becomes younger. Alcohol attracts not only adults but also teenagers. Countless are accidents, injuries, teenage committing crimes occurring under the influence of alcohol. The most vulnerable category is children. The body of a child is not able to resist, as an adult’s one. Often, families of the alcohol-dependent people in which children grow up suffer from their addiction. Alcohol-dependent person provokes scandals and fights in the family life. If a family has drinking parents, then over time the child can learn addiction and will consider this behavior normal. Crippled children's fate is due to the fact that parents behaved immorally. The slow destruction of the body and the complete degradation of the individual is the result of the alcohol dependence. Chronic alcoholics are sick people, but they do not consider their condition seriously. This category of the population calls themselves drinkers. Irreversible changes in brain activity and destruction of internal organs can not always be cured with the help of drugs. Significant are also changes in the appearance of the person abusing alcohol. Addicted person can be very easy picked out in a crowd among normal people.
In chronic alcoholics suffering from alcohol addiction, the sick generation which has a predisposition to alcohol, drugs, incurable mental disorders that in turn, gives rise to a new generation of the sick population. There is a misconception that the harm from alcohol is negligible, which contains a minimum quantity of alcohol. Getting used to the low-alcohol beverages is faster, but its use is higher than normal due to an insufficient amount of alcohol in the drink. Effects of low-alcohol products can be more pitiable than that of the traditional drinks.
Alcoholism is one of the most urgent problems of modern society. Its devastating effects are comparable to terrorism and drug addiction. Due to the stable person’s need in alcohol, the challenge of administrative solving of the problem of alcoholism is very complicated. The most well-known social movement against alcoholism is Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935 year. Such groups exist in many countries of the world. Visiting groups are voluntary, free, and occurring on the anonymous basis. The only requirement for participation in the groups AA is a desire to stop drinking. Groups are organized not by doctors, but by alcoholics themselves.
In addition to the AA, there are other societies and groups of sobriety around the world, the leading and educational work on the prevention of alcoholism. For example, among such organizations, there are the International Organization of humanism and sobriety (existing since 1851, based in the US, now headquartered in Norway), Washington temperance society (founded in 1840), White Cross in France (in force since 1899).
Efforts to combat alcoholism at the state level have been occurring many times. Thus, there was the system in Gothenburg (1865-1917) and the Bratt system in Sweden (1917-1955), the dry law in Russia (1914-25), Finland (1919-1932), the United States (1919-1933) and Iceland (1915 -1922). In all cases, a ban on the production and sale of alcohol had to stop due to the importation of contraband of alcohol and the use of substitutes. In Sweden, Finland and Norway, there were public policy restrictions on the alcohol production with the state monopoly on its production. However, it failed to achieve the desired result.
Alcohol policy at the international level is held by the World Health Organization. The global strategy to reduce alcohol abuse was adopted in May 2010 in Geneva at the World Health Assembly. Among the measures recommended in the report, there is the restriction of liquor advertising, limiting the number of sales of alcoholic beverages and reduce the sale of time points, an increase in retail prices for alcoholic beverages at the expense of taxes, informing about the dangers of alcohol, a gradual decrease in the permissible norms of alcohol in the blood of drivers, and etc.
The harm of alcohol is determined by the harm of alcoholism as a broader phenomenon linked to the disease. It is necessary to speak about social ills affecting all spheres of public life. Everyone is a part of society and the state of society as a whole depends on of their condition. Alcohol affects not only the drinker but also the people around him. Often, men or women who are prone to alcoholism, neglect their duties, friends, family, and children, in order to satisfy their need. Addiction to alcohol is the cause of various crimes. Children and families often suffer from alcoholism of the person. The cause of children’s illnesses is often the parents’ alcoholism. The fight against alcoholism is the largest social and medical problem of any state. The harm of alcohol proved. Even small doses of it can cause big troubles or misfortunes: injuries, car accidents, health deprivation, family breakdown, loss of spiritual needs and volitional human traits.