For over 8,000 years, humans enjoyed alcoholic beverages, as discovered by archaeologists. Amazingly, Neolithic earthenware pitchers were uncovered and had traces of berry wine residue. Dating back to 6400 B.C., it is believed that ancient Neolithic tribes were some of the earliest civilizations to engage in alcohol consumption; therefore, it is little wonder as to why American society favors drinking alcoholic beverages, even to the point of no return. Throughout the centuries, many ancient civilizations indulged in alcohol consumption and trades, such as in Iran, Turkey, Honduras, Chili, Phoenicia, Peru, Egypt, Greece, Italy, China, Israel, and other regions across the world.
Consequently, alcoholism has severely destroyed families, work places, friends, and lives, besides producing other negatively social and personal problems. If there was a “marriage” between addictive properties, alcoholism and drug abuse go hand-in-hand wreaking havoc on health and wellness among the population. Furthermore, this article describes devastating effects of alcoholism and drug abuse, as to reason many people believe that alcohol consumption should become illegal and banned.
Alcohol is a beverage that can be referred to as “ethanol” or “ethyl alcohol,” while containing high amounts of calories and no nutritional value. After a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, the substance is metabolized into the human body beforehand, while calories derived are channeled to bodily functions. In other words, food calories are metabolized from consuming alcohol, but ones unused become fat storage once energy needs are met. Fermentation is the process that entails sugars from fruits or grains sitting without oxygen, as yeasts multiply. Different amounts of alcohol are produced from fermentation, as seen in wine, beer, and liquor. The same amount of alcohol comprises 12 ounces of beer; 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor, which equates into 1/2 ounce in general. Furthermore, 4% – 5% of alcohol usually comprises beer, as alcoholic percentage for wine is displayed on a label. When it comes to liquor’s content, distillation removes alcohol by fermented products, such as barley, corn, or potatoes.
Although alcohol is considered a beverage, it is also classified as a depressant drug. Like other depressants, alcohol manages to sedate nervous system impulses and other bodily functions into a slower pace. Over 100 years ago, alcohol was used for anesthesia during surgery, as doctors had no clue during this time about possible risk factors. Death can become a dire consequence when overuse of alcohol is consumed, because brain centers controlling respiration and heart rate can easily shut down. Through trial and error, physicians invented alternative anesthesia administration for their patients, in order to evade dangerous outcomes of excessive alcohol usage. To this day, alcoholism destroys lives physically and mentally, resulting in numerous deadly vehicle accidents per year in the United States and elsewhere.
The number one reason that people turn to alcoholic beverages is to ease their situations with euphoric “drug effect” modes. At first, the body rejects excessive consumption of alcohol by inducing vomiting as a defense, in order to remove this substance from the stomach before it can sail on through the bloodstream to the brain. Nevertheless, vomiting is a signal warning the body that dangerous levels of alcohol has been consumed, which is how the body purifies itself. Unfortunately, over time, tolerance builds up in response to alcohol’s effects, which is why addiction becomes the norm. Once addicted to alcohol like one is to drugs, dependence sets in, and eventually, there is no comfortable reversal. Withdrawal symptoms arise after a drug or alcohol abuser decides to turn back the clock and flee from his/her addiction; yet, it is a very rocky road to success, as discomfort and nausea take their tolls. Extreme self-discipline towards desire of forever waning from alcoholism and drug abuse can be accomplished, while aided by proper counseling and rehabilitation.
Abstinence from alcohol or drug abuse is the best method to ensure optimal health and well-being; however, a person can be a responsible drinker with strong decision-making skills; ability to say, “No”; and acceptance of abstainers. In the United States, most people age 12 and older did not consume alcohol within 30 days prior to 2001 National Household Survey. As a matter of fact, only 51.7% of participants in age group of 12 and older had not consumed alcohol within 30 days prior to the survey. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of high school students had admitted to alcohol consumption within 30 days prior to survey. Regardless, two separate surveys yielded similarly identical results for percentage of participants age 12 and older abstaining from drinking alcoholic beverages. There are a variety of reasons as to why people abstain from alcoholic consumption, including religious beliefs; maintaining a positive role model status; and simply practicing optimal health and wellness.
It is often stated in the media and through advertisements that consuming alcoholic beverages aids healthy heart functioning through a substance found in wine called, “resveratrol.” Despite the possibility of resveratrol as a healthy element for heart health, negative effects greatly outweigh the positive aspects of consuming alcoholic beverages. In studies conducted, about 4% of cancer cases are caused by excessive alcoholic consumption, since alcohol harbors a known chemical irritant and carcinogen. There are other dangerous risks involved with alcohol abuse, such as hypothermia, cardiomyopathy, fetal alcohol syndrome, and cirrhosis. Damage and impairment of the brain, liver, and heart are some of crucial bodily organs adversely effected when alcohol is abused, just like overabusing drugs.
By 2002, at least thirty-three states enacted laws to curtail amount of blood alcohol concentration as the legal limit. In addition to blood alcohol concentration laws, many states enforce specific minimum age requirements for serving alcoholic beverages to individuals, as legal ages vary in each state. In Ohio, the current legal age for drinking alcohol is age 21 and blood alcohol concentration cannot exceed 0.08 legal limit; yet, many people do not adhere to these laws. At least three main factors contribute to blood alcohol concentration levels, which are: Body size; amount of body fat; food amount in stomach; and amount of alcohol consumed in a particular time frame. The more BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) increases, the greater sedation of bodily functions occurs. Indeed, there are different BAC levels for negative bodily effects, which are the following:
BAC of 0.02: Some sedating effects occur for light to moderate drinkers.
BAC of 0.08: Legal limit of intoxication in many states. An impairment of muscle; coordination;
driving; and speech skills are affected.
BAC of 0.12: At this stage of intoxication, vomiting usually results.
BAC of 0.40: Death can occur, because most people lose consciousness.
BAC of 0.50: By the time alcohol concentration levels are reached, death often occurs at a rate
of 1/2% out of 1%.
Even more alarming is the fact that teens abuse alcoholic beverages, as BAC 0.02 is the legal limit in thirty-eight states. If any teen drivers are apprehended for illegal levels of intoxication, they can lose their drivers’ license for a year; however, if teens do not carry a driver’s license when caught intoxicated, they still risk suspension of their driver’s license application for same time period. Sure enough, teen drinking is a serious problem that negatively affects teens and their families for the rest of their lives. Alcoholic consumption contributes to three leading death causes among teenagers, resulting from motor accidents, homicides, and suicides. During 1999, 21% of drivers ages 15 – 20 were killed in vehicle crashes due to intoxication. Furthermore, reports indicate that 1/3 – 2/3 of sexual assaults, including acquaintance rape (date rape) occur among teens and college students. It may be illegal for teens to purchase or consume alcohol in the United States, but the fact remains in alcoholic abuse among juveniles.
On the bright side, 2002 Monitoring The Future Study discovered that between 2001-2002, eighth and tenth grades significantly declined in consuming alcohol, along with binge drinking. According to 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, around 17.3% of juveniles ages 12-17 engaged in consuming alcohol; 29% of individuals ages 12-20 admitted to drinking alcohol; binge and heavy drinking for young adults ages 18 – 25 was of highest prevalence and peaked at age 21; and underage individuals drank alcoholic beverages in similarity of about 28% for all cities, towns, and rural areas 30 days prior to survey. Other statistics concerning teenagers consuming alcoholic beverages include:
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – 2001. There were 47% of students, who reported having
at least one alcoholic beverage within 30 days of survey; 29% students drinking at least one
alcoholic beverage within 50 days prior to survey; and 15.5% of high school students surveyed
nationwide, who admitted to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
All in all, if one could conclude any good news from these survey results, it would be decreasing amounts of students drinking alcoholic beverages over the years. Regrettably, there remains those U.S. high school students that consume alcohol, despite such acts deemed illegal. In the United States, 26,347 people died annually in motor vehicle accidents, while 85,000 deaths were attributed to alcohol intoxication. Furthermore, 41,059 drivers died in regular vehicle accidents, while on the other hand, 15,387 of those deaths were caused by alcoholic consumption. Sure enough, Ohio joins other states in over 1,000 residents, who have died while driving under alcoholic influence, which is 451 alcohol-related out of 1,235 regular motor vehicle deaths. Compared to 2007, higher alcohol consumption taxes have helped decrease the fatalities and other serious incidents attributed to substance abuse, especially when it comes to driving under the influence. Each year, the consequential outcome of Americans driving under the influence costs the United States a hefty price tag of at least $50,000,000,000.
It is baffling to realize that alcoholism continues, despite the horrific consequences of cirrhosis wasting away a person’s live through excessive alcoholism. Whenever a person cannot control his/her alcoholic addiction, it is classified as abuse, or rather, “alcoholism.” Cirrhosis of the liver is a degenerating, devastating disease accelerated through drug and alcohol abuse, while being painful to the person addicted to certain substances. Over time, the liver can repair itself, but not near as optimally functional before substance abuse occurred.
Dandelions are wonderful herbs towards maximum liver functioning and other health issues, along with milk thistle; yet, any fermentation produced in making wine and other alcoholic beverages induces various health risk factors in declining health. Herbs are the most potent in liquid form, but alcoholic substances are in another classification. In other words, grapes have healing antioxidant properties, while also fermented to create alcoholic wine beverages. The more an herb is altered, the less effective it becomes towards ultimate health and wellness.
Although vital health statistics and information shape opinions towards arguments for and against alcohol consumption, it is not easy to ignore life’s personal experiences as well. There are many disadvantages for consuming alcoholic beverages, opposed to abstaining from drinking, as discussed in this article. The fact that alcoholism and drug abuse ruins people’s lives both physically and mentally should be enough to discourage anyone from drinking. Unfortunately, many people and juveniles fail to see the health warning signs before they or someone else is severely harmed, or found dead by substance abuse. For instance, imagine a child growing up in an abusive household, where the alcoholic father physically batters and degrades him/her, while his/her mother laughs and adds her own unkind words toward the child. Consequently, many children slip through the cracks when it comes to living a constant nightmare under such toxic family environments.
It is of utmost importance for all foreign substances, such as derived from alcoholism and drug abuse, to be banned and considered illegal. On a lesser degree, nicotine addiction is harmful in its own right; thus, with controlled public smoking places, this unhealthy habit can eventually be curtailed through disciplined self determination. Moreover, it is puzzling that people with least amounts of income seem more willing to pay expensively outrageous cigarette and alcohol prices, along with high taxes for their addictive behaviors. Sure enough, the years march on, while more victims are claimed through devastating alcohol and drug abuse.
Today, few people realize that dandelions growing wild in one’s yard became the popular ingredient for wine production during 1929-1939 Great Depression. Along with creating wine from homemade fermentation processes, dandelions were consumed as salads and used for other survival purposes to combat extreme poverty during 1929 – 1939 Great Depression era. Bootlegging was an illegally prosperous market, as millions of Americans suffered an astounding 25% unemployment rate during the Great Depression and were lucky if they could find work anywhere, even at paltry wages. Nonetheless, The Waltons TV Show (1972 – 1981) humorously depicted the wealthy Baldwin sisters, Mamie and Emily often referring to their brewed alcoholic beverages as “Papa’s secret recipe.” Hence, “Papa’s secret recipe” can surely move mountains, in terms of detrimental and phenomenal costs on society.
Fortunately, the problematic consumption of alcoholic beverages is being addressed, while no longer considered a secluded past time. At the present time, stricter laws are being implemented by NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) as a measure to reduce deaths and injuries associated with drunk driving. As of 2013, NTSB has introduced a new law aimed at reducing the legal alcohol blood limit for drivers across the United States, which currently stands at a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.08%. If successfully passed, the new BAC will be lowered to 0.05% or below, in order to hopefully decrease the national epidemic of impaired driving. According to NTSB chairman, Deborah A.P. Hersman, “On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured.” A change for the better would certainly occur, as an estimated 1,000 lives would be saved through a lower blood alcohol limit and other strict enforcements.
In addition to a lower BAC, NTSB also suggests that police use passive alcohol sensors for better detecting alcohol vapor when pulling over drivers. All in all, granting authorities more power to suspend or revoke driver’s licenses if cited for a DUI would be a beneficial step forward. Besides Federal government intervention, states also hold the power in employing measures for improving enforced compliance against driving under the influence.
For now, the battle against impaired driving under alcoholic influence wages on, in hopes of eliminating escalating driver-impaired crashes. All across the USA, increasing road markers tell the tragic tales of innocent victims, who needlessly perished through another’s alcoholic consumption. Luckily, stricter laws and organizations, such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Al-Anon, and others will continue addressing the serious issues of alcoholism upon society. Consequently, alcoholic beverages have been brewing up trouble throughout history and shall continue to do so, unless more stringent laws and measures are passed.
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Annual Causes of Death In the United States. 2000 – 2009. DrugWarFacts.org. Copyright 1998 – 2013.
Harley, Michael. AutoLog.com. 16 May 2013. NTSB proposes lowering blood alcohol limit on drunk driving laws. http://www.autoblog.com/2013/05/16/ntsb-proposes-lowering-blood-alcohol-limit-on-drunk-driving-laws/
McClellan, Cathy. Arkansas Edible Wild Plants. Copyright 1999 – 2013.
McCormack, Robinson. Essentials of Health and Wellness. 2nd Edition. Copyright 2005.
Ohio DUI Law. N.A. www.dui.findlaw.com/dui/state-dui-law/ohio-dui-law.html
Olver, Lynne. Wine and Beer. 23 March 2013. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodbeverages.html
Resveratrol. Vitaminstuff.com. N.A. N.D. www.vitaminstuff.com/resveratrol.html
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