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Alcohol's effects

on the Brain & Body

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 Much of the damage resulting from long term alcohol use and abuse is irreversible. Physiologically, the brain and the neuronal pathways are affected to such an extent that memory deficits and cognitive impairment similar to dementia and motor skills & movement akin to parkinsonism & other motor neuron diseases may develop. Add to this the destruction of social skills, relationships, employment etc. and it is easy to see why alcohol abuse can destroy lives….completely. As each individual is unique, in genetic makeup and psychosocial development, there are no‘certainties’ as to how much, over what period, of what type of alcohol and so on, might cause damage and the extent of that damage. One must always remember however, that alcohol is not a substance the body needs or produces itself for any health benefit or necessary functioning. It would therefore be quite appropriate to consider it to be potentially 'toxic' if misused & abused. Moderation is the key.  

 


 

If one were to draw a parallel between drugs, alcohol and weapons of destruction, it might well be that of the areas of effect. Many of the illicit drugs & prescription drugs abused tend to be fairly specific in their targets. As noted with such substances as Cocaine, Methamphetamines, Marijuana, Ecstasy, they‘zero-in’ on those neurotransmitters of a particular‘feel good’ type. Alcohol could best be described as a‘cluster or scatter-bomb’; like letting‘suicide bomber’ loose in your mind and body. Its range of possible destruction is immense; its targets irrelevant; its capacity to potentially inflict‘wide-spread damage’ – both direct & collateral is definitively proven; yet its consumption is culturally accepted, promoted, encouraged and supported. Alcohol influences & affects neurotransmitters such as GABA (potentiates GABA by affecting‘arousal state’ and sensory & motor activity), Glutamate  (leads to cognitive impairment, amnesia & the inability to learn new information), Dopamine (increases dopamine release resulting in brief euphoria but also depression & anxiety in its ultimate suppression or absence),  Serotonin (increases serotonin release causing‘sleepiness’; involved in mood & emotion changes, depression, euphoria & anxiety), Epinephrine &Norepinephrine  & hormones such as testosterone, glucocorticoids & histamine. Physiologically , it damages organs such as the liver (cirrhosis, hepatitis & cancer), bowel (cancers of colon & rectum), stomach (ulceration & cancer), pancreas, (cancer & pancreatitis) and skeletal abnormalities such as bone growth problems & osteoporosis. Neurological dysfunction & destruction can encompass eyesight & perception, balance & movement, memory (short & long term), cognitive processing etc.Behaviorally, it is connected with or can result in, aggression, violence & crime, physical, emotional & sexual abuse, depression & suicide and Socially, it affects relationships, finances, employment, families, children etc. Any purported health benefit must be weighed against the potential damage that my ensue as a result. Culturally and economically, alcohol consumption is so entrenched in the very fabric of our society that to suggest any type of prohibitive restrictions or bans would be tantamount to societal destruction. The issue is not the substance but how, when, where & to what extent it is imbibed.

 


 

 
 
 

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