Essay Alcoholism

3909 Words Mar 22nd, 2012 16 Pages

INTRODUCTION Alcohol may be the world's oldest known drug. Fermented grain, fruit juice and honey have been used to make alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) for thousands of years. The production of products containing alcohol has become big business in today's society and the consumption and abuse of alcohol has become a major public health problem.
The effects of alcohol abuse range from a mild hang over to mass destruction, disease and deaths on a huge scale. Alcohol use in moderation has little or no ill effects either for the user or those around them. But the misuse of what has become one of the world's most dangerous drugs takes a devastating toll on both the
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It acts at many sites, including the reticular formation, spinal cord, cerebellum and cerebral cortex, and on many neurotransmitter systems. Alcohol is a very small molecule and is soluble in "lipid" and water solutions. Because of these properties, alcohol gets into the bloodstream very easily and also crosses the blood brain barrier. Some of the neurochemical effects of alcohol are: Increased turnover of norepinephrine and dopamine Decreased transmission in acetylcholine systems Increased transmission in GABA systems Increased production of beta-endorphin in the hypothalamus
Chronic drinking can lead to dependence and addiction to alcohol and to additional neurological problems. Typical symptoms of withholding alcohol from someone who is addicted to it are shaking (tremors), sleep problems and nausea. More severe withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations and even seizures.
Chronic alcohol use can: Damage the frontal lobes of the brain Cause an overall reduction in brain size and increase in the size of the ventricles. Lead to alcoholism (addiction to alcohol) and result in tolerance to the effects of alcohol and variety of health problems. Cause a vitamin deficiency. Because the digestion system of alcoholics is unable to absorb vitamin B-1 (thiamine), a syndrome known as "Wernicke's Encephalopathy"

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