Effects of Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Drug Abuse and Addiction

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 drinker and on society as a whole.

Most agree that the occasional alcoholic drink never hurt anyone. The real danger lies in binge drinking and the development of a tolerance to alcohol, which causes the drinker to consume every greater quantities of booze in a bid to regain that original but elusive feeling of well being.

Alcohol might give the occasional or first time drinker a pleasurable "high" which lures them into heavier consumption. But ultimately it acts as a depressant, affecting the central nervous system and "switching off" vital parts of the brain. In severe cases alcohol can slow the pulse and breathing, leading to a coma and death. The section of the brain which controls aggression is also dulled by alcohol which is why countries such as the UK and USA are plagued by millions of alcohol-related violent crimes each year. Drink driving kills more than 20,000 people in America a year and in the UK alcohol is the cause of more than 50% of nearly three million violent crimes committed each year.

Alcohol use by pregnant women is cited as the leading preventable cause of retardation in children in the USA . Children born with a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can experience seeing and hearing problems, learning difficulties and may need medical care all their lives.

Besides the huge dangers heavy drinkers present to others, they also risk bringing a frightening array of mental, social and health problems on themselves. Many alcoholics lose their families, friends and careers due to their inability to control their alcohol consumption and resulting behaviour . Cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism is now one of the ten leading causes of death in the USA .

What are the withdrawl symptoms?

For those trying to tackle their alcohol abuse, withdrawal symptoms can range from depression, shaking, anxiety and vomiting to far more serious "cold turkey" type symptoms similar to those experienced by heroin addicts. In the most extreme cases alcoholics need medical supervision to get them through the initial detox period when they might experience terrifying hallucinations and uncontrollable shaking. Sadly, staff in accident and emergency rooms worldwide are all too familiar with the sight of a panic-stricken alcoholic suffering from DTs (delirium tremens) and the illusion that thousands of spiders are crawling all over their body.

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