Alcohol

Alcohol is the most abundant drug in the world, and the main ingredient in beer, wine, and distilled spirits.  It is widely used and unfortunately, has an equally high percentage of abuse and addiction.

Our counselors help our client address the underlying issues that contribute to their alcohol use.

Effects and Usage

Although it is imbibed nearly everywhere, alcohol remains a dangerous drug. It is a depressant, meaning it slows down functions in the body.  Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, its risks and effects can change drastically.

In smaller doses alcohol can:

  • Cause mood swings ranging from euphoria to extreme anger.
  • Decrease inhibition/increase risk taking behavior
  • Impaired judgment and motor control (slurred speech, difficulty walking)
  • Result in a headache and nausea (a hangover)

In larger amounts alcohol can cause:

  • Severe, uncontrollable vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Liver failure
  • Addiction
  • Death

Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can result in the user become addicted to the substance.  This when the brain chemistry of the user changes in such a way that the brain believes itself to need alcohol to function normally. The occurs because repeated use has caused the brain to only produce dopamine and serotonin, which are two important brain chemicals that relate to motivation and pleasure, when alcohol is present in the system.  As a result, the addicted individual changes more and more of their behavior towards rewarding the pleasure centers of the brain with alcohol, causing damage to their health and relationships. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process but is possible to achieve with concentrated effort and a supportive community such as AA or an outpatient recovery group.

Once in recovery, a person must often completely relearn a new set of behaviors, as alcohol was previously used as a way to relieve stress, cope with difficult emotions, or to calm anxiety in social situations.  This might mean getting a new circle of friends, no longer going to event or places that serve alcohol, and beginning a course of self-discovery in order to understand what triggers the desire to drink.

Differences in Types of Alcohol

Overdosing or binge drinking on alcohol is especially prevalent in young people ages 18-25.  The combination of euphoria of drunkenness and alcohol’s ability to lower inhibitions leads to young people taking more risky behaviors with alcohol consumption.  Peer pressure to drink can also lead to excessive use. When young people drink, their inexperience with the effects of the drug can often lead to problems—beer impacts the system more slowly than hard liquors such as vodka and rum, leading to people being unable to accurately gauge how intoxicated they are, especially once they are already impaired. Party drinks and cocktails can also be concocted that mask the taste of alcohol completely, making it very difficult to drink in any kind of responsible way.

Conclusion

Since alcohol is not leaving our world any time soon, it is important to know the risks associated with this drug.  It is possible to fatally overdose on alcohol, even if you have never drank before.  Drunk driving is also a dangerous side-effect of drunkenness, and apart from being highly illegal, results in thousands of injuries and deaths each year.