The Dynamics of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependency – Health Essay
Alcohol is an extremely dangerous substance, not only does it do a lot of damage to the drinker physically and emotionally, it also harms others around them such as
family, friends and the society in general (Gmel, & Rehm,
2003). This essay will look at the dynamics of alcohol, addiction, past and present approaches of alcoholism and the neurological networks of alcoholism.
According to Steve M. (2000) “alcoholism is a dynamic and progressive illness, which may take years and even decades to develop into an easily identifiable condition.” Alcoholism appears to have three main stages that show the gradual step toward alcoholism. These stages consist of exposure or experimentation, which is almost like the first introduction to alcohol, many people are usually under the legal age when they first learn about or have a taste of alcohol. The second is learned, habitual-behavioural reliance, this is the stage when alcohol is used to party, relax, flirt or even reward oneself. The last is chronic dependency; this is when alcohol dependency is stretched out over a long period of time (Steve M, 2000). These stages are all different, yet they all have some sort of similarities that overlap each other which can make it hard to see what stage a person maybe up to or past for that matter (Steve M, 2000).
Medical Library (2003) states that “Addiction is a dependence on a behaviour or substance that a person is powerless to stop.” There are many factors that influence an addiction these are such things as genetic factors, drugs, some which are generally more addictive then others, or social learning meaning that the environment in which one is in may have a major influence on an addiction (Medical Library, 2003). Addiction is extremely hard to break for some people and takes a lot of will power. There are two main types of addiction the first being substance addiction, which include alcohol, smoking, illegal and legal drugs. The second is process addiction this includes excessive shopping and spending money, over eating, or even gambling (Medical Library, 2003).
There have been many different approaches to alcoholism over the years, this is because there is always new research and ideas found that helps in understanding alcohol, how it may occur in people and why it does in some and not others. In the past alcoholism has been seen as a moral disorder, therefore people who where classified as alcoholics had been considered to have a weak character (Steve M, 2000). Yet it is not only society who thought this of alcoholics it was also the church and AA. Although society now accepts different theories on alcoholism, the church and AA still believe in the past theories and perceptions, as they believe that alcoholism can only be over come through “spiritual awakening and the belief in god and a higher power” (Steve M, 2000).
The more modern approach to alcoholism is that it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, alcoholism doesn’t care who it attacks, just like diabetes, you could be wealthy or poor, married or not married it doesn’t matter. Research now shows that genetics and environmental factors play a major part in alcohol and it addictiveness, it is believed that it is easily past down through generations of families (Medical Library, 2003). In the last thirty years of research the theory that genetics play a part in alcoholism has been proven. One type of research done to prove this theory was that of adopted children. It showed that children who had alcoholism through out their biological families and who were separated at birth from their parents seemed to have a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol then other children in the same situation whose biological parents where not alcoholics (Cross, 2004).
Dopamine is a substance produced in the body which gives a feeling of well being when it is stimulated, so when there is a deficiency in dopamine in the body the opposite will happen. The theory in relation to alcohol is that people with a deficiency in dopamine are more likely to drink alcohol as it stimulates dopamine production and gives a sense of pleaser (Peele, 2004).
The neurological networks of alcoholism have been shown to be a major part of the modern approaches to alcohol abuse and dependency; this is because it traces the path of alcohol through the body, allowing researchers to see what effects alcohol has on the brain. Alcohol works on neurotransmitters, the dopamine system is affected the most. This neurotransmitter is the one which provides the pleaser rush felt by people in life. It is what makes eating and drinking feel so good (Steve M, 2000). When there is a deficiency in dopamine the body has to find other ways to get pleaser and therefore will find anything that gives a good feeling. This is where alcohol plays a part as it stimulates more dopamine receptors and makes that body feel that alcohol is an important substance and that it needs it constantly (Steve M, 2000).
Alcoholism is an illness that many people in this society suffer from whether one believes the past approach or the present. Alcohol and its dynamics are extremely large and sometimes complicated as it can stem into other illness and therefore become an even larger problem. It can weave its self through the physical and psychological traits and there for be an unclear illness (NIAAA, 2001)
Cross, C., The welcome trust. Genes and alcoholism (2004). Retrieved October 7, 2004, from http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/genome/genesandbody/hg06f013.html
Gmel, G., & Rehm, J. (2003). Harmful alcohol use. Alcohol Research & Health, 27(1), 52-62.
Medical Library, Addiction (2003). Retrieved October 7, 2004, from http://www.chclibrary.org/micromed/00036220.html
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism getting the Facts (2001). Retrieved October 8, 2004, from http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/booklet.htm
SOS, Factors in the causation & development of Alcoholism. (2000). Retrieved October 7, 2004, from http://www.secularsobriety.org/causes.html
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