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By: D. Bulikova
The topic of this essay is alcohol addiction, which in my opinion is a rather suitable topic for my peers and I, because we are in the process of growing up, and we need to have a little research on this topic to understand the risks of consuming alcohol in the future.
Ethanol is a type of alcohol found in drinks such as beer and wine. Although we consume it, its also used as a fuel for cars and other vehicles. Ethanol molecules are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It can be produced by fermentation of sugars. Sugar cane/beet (raw material) are used for this process. It is mixed with water and yeast in a temperature just above the room temperature. The reason why this process works is because the sugars react to yeast which contains enzymes, so they form ethanol and carbon dioxide. After this reaction is over, the ethanol is separated from the mixture by a process called fractional distillation, and fuel or whiskey are ready to be made. The majority of ethanol is made by fermentation.
There is also another type of production of ethanol. It is called hydration. Ethanol made for industrial causes can be made by the process of hydrating ethene. This process basically consists of ethene reacting with steam: ethene + steam → ethanol. A phosphoric acid which is heated up is used as a catalyst in order to speed up the reaction. Unlike ethanol made by fermentation, ethanol made by hydration is a non-renewable fuel. The reasoning of this is that ethene is made by cracking crude oil fractions, and we all know that specifically crude oil is not a renewable resource.
Some signs of alcoholism, and alcohol abuse are: not knowing your limits, and regularly going over them, having a need to drink, your body developing a certain tolerance to alcohol, so you need more every time, having memory loss when you drink, feeling annoyed and irritated when alcohol isn’t available, or having problems with your relationships because of alcohol. Basically craving alcohol when you don’t have it, and this could lead to very negative consequences. It could lead to homelessness or even death.
It is not fully proved that alcohol is inherited, but it does seem to run in certain families. This certain kind of inheriting is called the “alcoholism gene”. I think that genetics can have influence on this particular case, but it also depends on a number of other things. It is proved that genes are responsible for more or less half of the risk of alcoholism, so by this we know that genes by themselves are not fully responsible for alcoholism. The environment in which the person moves, and the people the person interacts with play a big role, and in my opinion are more responsible than the gene. It is known that some genes actually do increase the risk of alcoholism in a person. However there are also genes that are able to decrease the risk of alcoholism. Whether its directly or indirectly. For example if we look at Asians and alcohol, we can see that they do not drink nearly as much as us Europeans do. This is because they carry a gene that changes their tolerance to alcohol. They have symptoms such as flushing,
nausea,or a rapid heartbeat when they drink even a small amount of alcohol. This is nothing pleasant for them, so logically if they want to avoid these experiences they won’t drink which helps to protect them from alcoholism.
There are a couple of medications for alcoholism that are considered effective. Naltrexone is used most frequently. It decreases cravings for alcohol by blocking the body’s euphoric response. This drug can be taken by mouth daily, or by injections monthly. An interesting fact about this is that research has shown that naltrexone helps only people with a specific gene, that not all of us have, but scientist have not found the specific gene yet. Another medication for alcoholism is called Disulfiram. It is taken by about 9% of alcoholics. It decreases the craving for alcohol by producing a negative reaction to it. Next we have acamprostate which decreases craving in those who have stopped drinking. Another drug used is called ondansteron, which is found rather effective in cases of alcoholics under the age of 25. Baclofen, lithium, and sertraline are the last three which are basically used to decrease alcohol use in people with a mental disorder.
Medications come along with treatment. The treatment can start only when the patient stops denying the problem and actually owns up to the fact that they are an alcoholic. The person must understand that it’s curable, and it is vital for them to have the courage and motivation to change. There are three stages of treatment. The first stage is called detoxification. This is most probably going to be needed after cutting out alcohol use, and it can bring unpleasant consequences like withdrawal seizures, hallucinations, and in some extreme cases death. The second stage of treatment is rehabilitation. This consists of counseling and consuming helpful medications carefully prescribed for each specific alcoholic stage and case. The patient is given tips by professionals on how to resist, and stay sober. And the third stage is maintenance of sobriety. For the success of this step, self-control in the patient is essential. Of course the patient needs a lot of moral support and a shoulder to lean on, which includes regular meeting with other alcoholics to talk about their mutual problem. And just to add, the process of treatment is most definitely not an easy process to go through because detoxification does not stop the craving for alcohol, and apparently it’s very difficult to maintain. It will probably have side effects for instance anxiety, uncontrollable shaking, spasms, panic, or hallucinations. This will of course depend on the stage of alcoholism. The treatment for alcoholism is effective in a lot of cases. The success is more or less equal to the outcomes of many chronic diseases. In certain cases people relapse several times before being able to say that they are 100% abstinent. It is common that relapses happen. In my opinion treatments do work to a certain extent, but the person needs to have their mind set on this, and they need a lot of support from their close ones to recover.
The economic effects of alcohol are quite damaging to the whole nation. They affect families, the community, and all-aged people. It interferes with the development of children. Nowadays it is very difficult and challenging to educated college students about the dangers of alcohol abuse because they established their drinking rituals in a young age. When it comes to the point where the person needs alcoholic treatment, the health care costs for the family are twice as much as a regular family. It is found that nearly half of emergency room cases are alcohol related which is quite sad, and disappointing. “Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the top three known causes of birth defects, and is totally preventable.” I think this says it all. The society is overdosed with alcohol and other drugs, and their minds are set to the fact that alcohol is an essential of life. It is proved that alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost the America nation about $136 billion. It is found that between 6 and 7 million workers are alcoholics, with the lack of productivity, and competitiveness. Society tends to treat the medical and social consequences of alcohol abuse, rather than its causes. Although our experience with the consequences of alcohol abuse is greater than that for any other drug, public concern for its prevention and treatment is less than for other major illnesses or abuse of other drugs.
In my opinion anything can cause children to start or at least try drinking. Whether its peer pressure, certain problems at home, or just the generally focusing on the hype. To be specific on the reasons of minors consuming alcoholic beverages because of family reasons, in my opinion the main reason would probably be: a divorce going on, a family member having a serious illness, death of a close one, financial problems, regular arguments, rebellion and unsaid problems. This list doesn’t end here, but I just could not think of any more reasons, because I have never experienced the need to get “wasted” because of problems in the family. I think children should be raised to be able to cope with problems, and sort them out, not drink them down. However I do not think it’s necessarily a negative thing, when minors experience the taste of alcohol before being 18.
In the Slovak Republic, alcohol is a problem which is often underrated. We can say that there are 10k of people in Slovakia who have an unhealthy consumption of alcohol. from available statistics it is known that 25% of men have this problem, and 10% of women. The popularized consumption of alcohol of minors is alarming. However the drug problem shoves alcoholism in the corner, and it is important to understand that even though alcohol is legal, its still a drug which is comparable with heroine. It often comes with a number of negative consequences for example criminals, divorce, sicknesses.
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. BBC, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.
"Is Alcoholism a Genetically Inherited Disease?" - Ask.com
. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.
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