The Effects of Alcoholism on Health and Life
Alcoholism is very prevalent in today’s society. It has actually been prevalent for much longer, but now with more laws and research surrounding it, there are more reasons than ever to be concerned about alcoholism. Many people believe that alcohol should be used to have fun and be more social, but there is a large group of people that alcohol affects every aspect of their lives. I wanted to research alcohol addiction because I am concerned about how many people that I know may develop it over their lifetime. What may start as drinking with friends on weekends may turn into years and years of dependence on alcohol. I assume that the majority of people will not become dependent on alcohol because of cost, risks, and many other issues, however, there is a smaller group that may be overwhelmed by the stresses of life and will turn to alcohol to cope with issues. Another reason why I wanted to research alcoholism is to know how it affects crime rates. I think that a lot of crime is alcohol related, as alcohol consumption can lead to a lack of thinking and poor choices. Many people may have not committed their crimes if it wasn’t for them being intoxicated. The last reason I chose to research alcoholism is to learn more about the health effects associated with it. Does alcoholism make your likelihood of getting cancer or diseases higher? How common is liver failure in alcoholics? These questions are what brought me to researching alcohol addiction.
When starting my research, I figured that the best place to find information would be databases. This is because many of the articles on online databases contain numerical statistics to backup their statements. The articles that I eventually chose were ones that fitted all of my qualifications. All of the articles I chose were factual, didn’t factor in opinions, had sources for their information, and many were peer reviewed by people that are professionals in the field of alcohol addiction. For the most part, finding information was easy. However, many of the articles I found were spouting out the same information. This made it challenging to find facts that were more than surface level details. My interview with Steve Brownrigg did not prove to be very useful. Many of his responses to questions were very similar to information that was easily found online. Even when asked specific questions, he gave vague responses that were not useful to furthering my research. Nevertheless, I was able to gather enough information to become knowledgeable on how alcohol affects people’s lives.
There are many health effects that come along with consuming alcohol. This doesn’t mean that any amount of alcohol is going to cause problems with the function of your body. The problems arise when alcohol is consumed regularly over a period of time, or a large amount is consumed at once. For the people that abuse alcohol regularly, their bodies might react poorly to not having alcohol. People who suffer from alcoholism may be affected by involuntary shaking or cravings for alcohol (Gale). When alcohol is consumed regularly over a long period of time, a person is more likely to get several different types of cancer such as; mouth cancer, throat cancer, colon cancer, and liver cancer (Gale). Another effect of alcoholism is that a person may want to quit drinking but is unable to because of their body being physically dependent on it, rather than emotionally or psychologically (Gale). The health effects are not limited to what alcohol can do to a person’s body. Many injuries occur while under the influence. More than half of trauma patients that had a positive blood alcohol level (BAC) are diagnosed as alcoholics (BJS).
Alcohol can also affect how families function. Alcohol can cause a lot of problems between spouses, siblings, and children. About 60 to 70 percent of physical altercations between spouses involved alcohol (AAC). Drinking can also put a strain on the financial aspect of a person’s life. Not only does the alcohol cost money, but being intoxicated makes people more likely to impulsively purchase things that they wouldn’t have otherwise (AAC). In many cases, drinking also causes poor performance at work, which could lead to an early termination. About 80 percent of children who are abused by parents and siblings are raised in families that contain alcoholics (AAC). Children in alcoholic families are also more likely to become alcoholics in their later years (AAC). Another problem that comes with alcoholism in families is the lack of expressiveness, independence, and emotional bonding (AAC). A lack of emotional bonding can lead to people expressing the same thing to their family and children later in life.
As most people know, alcohol can lead to poor judgement and decision making. About 36 percent of all crimes committed happen when the offender is under the influence of alcohol (BJS). Many people assume that DUIs are uncommon and not a very large percentage of drivers have been convicted of driving under the influence. However, in 1996 there were over 1.4 million arrests made across the United States for driving under the influence (BJS). Alcohol also accounted for about 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in 1996. In fact, there is 1 intoxicated driver involved in a fatal crash for every 17,200 drivers. To put this in perspective, Omaha will have about 30 intoxicated drivers every year that are involved in a fatal car crash. Alcohol doesn’t only lead to problems on the streets. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 41 percent of all violent crimes happen when the offender is under the influence of alcohol. Of that 41 percent, 20 percent of those crimes are committed with weapons other than hands and fists. Alcohol is a large factor to the amount of crime in the United States.
While many people are affected by alcoholism, there are some groups that are more liable to developing the problem. People who grow up in families with alcoholics are often encouraged to participate from a young age. On the other hand, people who are strongly religious are less likely to be alcoholics. An interesting fact is that the more education a person has, the more likely they are to experience a problem with alcohol (Elkins). Alcohol use in teenage years also makes a person more likely to develop AUD (Elkins). As a general rule, where alcohol use is acceptable, abuse disorders are more likely to occur. People’s environments play a major factor in developing this condition.
After doing research on how alcoholism affects people’s lives, I feel much more knowledgeable in the subject. Even though I am nowhere near an expert in the subject, I have a good start to being able to learn more. I am more interested in the crime aspect of the subject, but the other aspects seemed like common knowledge to me. For the most part, it wasn’t very engaging and didn’t offer many different viewpoints. The criminal aspect was very interesting because I didn’t know how much alcohol really affects crime rates. The best part of the project was finishing the research because it made everything else a breeze. Having all the information laid out in front of me made compiling paragraphs simple. The most interesting thing to me was how much alcohol affects crime. It made me wonder if alcohol was outlawed, would crime rates be lower, or would it shift to different types of crime as what happened in the prohibition era. More common crimes such as stealing and violent crimes shifted into criminal organizations and illegal production and sales of alcohol.
Alcoholism affects every aspect of a person’s life. From family to financial, it has the ability to cause problems as well as make crime more prevalent in their life. People need to know how alcohol may affect their lives because if they don’t, they may fall into the same trap that so many others have already. Living with alcohol addiction is not living. It is going from day to day causing problems for others and putting yourself in danger. I believe that research needs to be done to give people living with alcoholism an easier way to quit. Maybe there could be a new drug or counseling practice that relieves the stresses of ditching alcohol. If I were to research this topic again, I would focus on how alcohol affects crime. Crime is the most important aspect of this topic because it affects not just the person living with alcoholism. It has the ability to take people’s lives and scar family and friends for life.
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