The Effects and Impact of Alcohol Consumption



Alcohol has been around for many centuries. During the colonial period alcohol was used as medicine and an enjoyable drink especially for workers. During the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century alcohol was not looked down upon or seen as addictive. Dr. Benjamin Rush saw alcoholism as a disease state and saw how alcohol caused more problems than good. By the mid 1830’s alcohol was looked at differently. More Americans started to see how alcohol was a problem that caused disease, poverty, crime, etc. Before many employers were providing alcohol to their employees now, they have stopped the supply. By the late 1930’s alcohol addiction groups were started to help victims control their sense of self. Today it is very important to be aware of your alcohol consumption especially when it comes to drinking and driving.

When a person consumes alcohol, it enters the stomach and down into the small intestine where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. In your small intestine there are epithelial cells which are perfect for absorption also. When alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream it is transported to all organs and tissues in the body. Ethanol, a chemical found in alcohol, affects the central nervous system by altering the molecules in your body. Alcohol can have a hard time being absorbed especially with food. Food can prevent alcohol from entering the bloodstream. Your liver’s main role is to detoxify, metabolize, and synthesize proteins essential for digestion. Your liver metabolizes alcohol by the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme in your body that breaks down alcohol and detoxifies which alcohol will then leave your body as carbon dioxide and water. 

Alcohol can have many effects on different areas of the body. Your alcohol consumption could affect your brain by causing memory loss and mood swings. Alcohol can cause slurred speech, drowsiness, blackouts, and impaired judgement. It can affect your lungs by causing breathing difficulties. Your liver could be affected by cirrhosis and hepatitis when drinking heavy amounts overtime. High blood pressure, muscle wasting, stomach ulcers etc. Heavy drinking over time can cause damage to your organs. It can cause heart damage, liver damage, and even cancer. Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when the liver tries to repair itself over time scar tissue forms. With a lot of scar tissue this can cause the liver difficulty to function. Ascites can occur because of this which is where fluid is in the spaces of the abdomen. This can affect your lungs, kidneys, and can cause many other difficulties.  

Every now and then a person may drink an alcoholic beverage or two on special occasions but there are some people that abuse it. Moderate use of alcohol can be measured by one or two drinks per day. Abuse happens when there is too much alcohol consumed way too often. Abuse may occur when the alcohol is disturbing everyday life decisions. For example, you may have to miss work for a week straight because you are too drunk to come in. Also, the alcohol may be causing dangerous legal problems. For example, these situations could be drunk driving or being intoxicated and disturbing the public.  This person may continue to drink regardless of what their situation may be. For example, if a person who has had a history of drunk driving and keeps continuing this behavior could be alcohol abuse. When a person is dependent, they may have a loss of control and crave the alcohol. They have a physical need for the alcohol and may have withdrawal symptoms without it. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, mood swings, insomnia, etc.