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Michael Bayda
Mr. Ring
Psychology
22 September 2015

The Effects of Alcohol


Alcohol, the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. 17.8 Million
people find themselves suffering from alcohol abuse or dependence. In 2014, some eighty eight
thousand people lost their lives to alcohol related deaths, and from the years of 2006 to 2010
there was about 2.5 million years of potential life lost to alcohol related deaths in the US. Along
with high blood pressure and diabetes, Alcohol is one of the leading causes of liver disease and
liver failure. Drunk driving, Alcohol poisoning, and liver failure are all examples of how this
substance can hurt you physically. Alcohol abuse and addiction can also lead to the killing of
brain cells and is linked to other mental diseases like dementia, delirium, anxiety disorders, and
even sexual dysfunction. Clearly alcohol is destructive to your body and mind, so why do people
continue to drink? This is the reason that I am writing this paper.
How do people become dependant or addicted to alcohol? Alcohol is a depressant and
helps to take the edge off emotions. Some people find themselves abusing alcohol; this is when
someone drinks more than the moderate amount, which is two drinks for men and one for
women. They can also be considered alcohol abusers if they have problems at work, with family,
or legal troubles caused by their use of this substance. But the point when a person becomes
considered dependent on alcohol is when they start to drink and simply can't stop. This happens
because when you are a regular user of any substance your body develops a tolerance. A
tolerance is when your body is so used to the use of a substance that smaller amounts won't affect

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you anymore, and you start to need more and more of what youre using to get the same results.
Signs of when a person needs help with their addiction can range from knowing they need to
slow down but find it extremely hard to do so, to getting annoyed very easily and being very
sensitive when someone asks them about their problem. Psychologists can be very helpful in the
recovery process of an alcoholic, they offer an array of therapies, and can also help a family
convince someone that they need to make a change.
One of the biggest myths about alcohol is that an excessive amount of drinking can cause
permanent shrinkage to the brain. This is partly true. It is correct that a person's brain can shrink,
but scientific studies have shown that long periods of not drinking can help restore the brain to
normal size, and help retain most brain cells. Alcohol doesn't just affect your brain; your liver
also takes a huge toll when you constantly abuse alcohol. There are many diseases of the liver
caused by excessive drinking like alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. The main function
of the liver is to prevent toxins from getting into your bloodstream by getting it out of your body
as waste. When the liver fails to do this due to cirrhosis or hepatitis, a disease called Hepatic
Encephalopathy occurs. This occurs due to the toxins not being removed from the body, and are
then put into the bloodstream, where they are carried to the brain and cause disorientation,
inappropriate behavior, and slurred speech.
Drinking age has long been a huge dispute in the United States. For the majority of the
time since prohibition, the legal drinking age has been 21, however, for a short time during the
Vietnam War you could purchase and drink alcohol at age 18. Since the National Minimum
Drinking Age Act or NMDAA was passed in 1988, some 20,000 lives have been saved due to the
lack of young drunk 18 year olds driving on highways. There have been many campaigns to
lower the drinking back to 18, but the most effective one to date was lead by former Middlebury

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College president John McCardell. He created a group called Choose Responsibility , the
group was founded to have the legal drinking age lowered to 18 while also having a much better
education about the harm of excessive alcohol consumption. The group's efforts failed mainly
because the drinking age of 21 is the reason for a decline in annual alcohol-related deaths, from
around 26,00 in 1982 to about 17,000 in 2005, as counted by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Alcohol can affect your body and mind, but it also can affect and interfere with your
everyday life. One of the most common ways alcohol can cause problems in your life is that,
obviously, you can become addicted and dependent. The reason this is a problem is because
alcohol makes you become a different person, whether it makes you angry or abusive, or just
unfocused and takes away your ability to perform simple tasks. When people are addicted they
need it all the time and if you are always drunk you won't even be yourself anymore. If someone
is constantly getting into legal trouble for DUIs and other alcohol charges, they can have serious
repercussions, and in some cases, people are even denied access to see their children because of
repeated charges for substance abuse. Also many alcoholics find themselves financially unstable
because they filter so much money into their booze, and they tend to have a harder time holding
down jobs because of constant hangovers and late nights spent drinking.
If you are an athlete, you know that to become the best player you can be it requires
countless hours of training and hard work. What some athletes do not understand is that drinking
alcoholic beverages can undo all of that time spent in the gym, on the field, in the rink , or on the
court. Not only can drinking reduce your endurance but it can also mess with your mental game
and throw off your confidence. Alcohol can ruin your game physically, it can also give you bad
publicity and end your chance for athletically earned scholarships or your chance to play

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professionally. One of the most important parts of being an athlete is learning the strategy and
remembering plays or formations. When using alcohol it depletes your brains ability to store and
remember information. Alcohol affects your sleep by messing up the order and time span of
normal sleep, lowering your brains ability to get back information. For example, the REM stage
of sleep, or stage IV, is badly affected after a night of drinking, which is important to memory.
So in conclusion I have shown how alcohol can affect your mind and body, messing with
your liver and brain and causing nasty diseases. Alcoholism can also leave a huge hole in your
life by making you addicted to being under the influence at all times. It can lead to huge legal
trouble ranging from DUIs to having your own children separated from you. So, with all this
possible damage and people knowingly continueing to drink and become intoxicated, the
question is do we blame the drinker's only, or maybe also the suppliers? Can we truly blame
only the consumers for using an excess of what is regularly advertised and almost overly
available to them, or must we turn our head to the providers, the people who continue to
distribute alcohol knowing its destructive potential.

Word count: 1220

Works Cited
1) American Psychological Association. Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders & Their
Treatment, 2012. Web. 20 September 2015.

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The American Psychological Association website will help me in writing my paper because it will
give me insight to help me find out when drinking becomes a problem and when too much
drinking can turn into addiction. This source will also help me find out what kind of disorders
alcohol can cause to hurt you physically and mentally. It will show how disorders affect peoples
lives as well. The website will help to inform me as to when a person should seek out help to
aid them in recovery. This site points to the assistance that psychologists are sometimes able to
offer those with alcohol disorders.

2) HAMS: Harm Reduction For Alcohol. Myths and Facts About Alcohol and Brain Damage,
2015. Web. 20 September 2015.

HAMS: Harm Reduction For Alcohol will help me with this writing project because it will help me
to prove or disprove some common misconceptions about alcohol use and what it can do to
your brain and body. This site looks at brain shrinkage and whether it can be attributed to
alcohol abuse, or other physical problems. Wet brain is a form of brain damage associated at
times with alcohol abuse, and that condition is reviewed on this site. It is well known that alcohol
affects the liver and its function, and this article lays out various diseases of the liver that can be
caused by alcohol. It is well known that some heavy drinkers suffer from lower functioning of the
brain, and this site goes into some detail about if that can be reversed or not.

3) BU Today. Drinking: 18 vs. 21 Alcohol on Campus: debating lowering the drinking age, 2010.
Web. 20 September 2015.

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The BU Today website and this article go into detail about the history of the legal drinking age
and the reasons for the changes over the years. It also shows that after changing the legal age
from 18 to 21, there were far fewer highway accidents caused by drunk drivers in this age
range. In 1984 Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, known as MADD, rallied support and worked to
get the drinking age raised to 21 in all 50 states. This had mixed reviews, as some people felt
that MADD had gone too far. There is a non profit group called Choose Responsibly, that has a
goal to get the dinking age lowered to 18, while also educating young adults on the dangers of
excessive alcohol use.

4) MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 2014. Web.
20 September 2015.

This site provides details about how for most adults, moderate drinking doesnt cause problems.
For about 18 million adults though, alcohol addiction becomes a destructive problem in their
lives. There is a disease called alcoholism that causes cravings, dependence, loss of control
and the need for more alcohol to get the same effect. It is possible to abuse alcohol with out
being dependent on alcohol. This can still be very destructive and put someone in dangerous
situations, and create legal, family and work problems.

5) McDonald Center for Student Well-Being Formerly the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education.
Alcohol and Athletes, 2008. Web. 20 September 2015.

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If athletes drink alcohol, it is possible for the effects of drinking to erase the hard work that they
put into conditioning their bodies and minds. Consuming alcohol can deplete and reverse
muscle growth and muscle memory of athletes. Alcohol use can also affect the brains ability to
retain and store critical information such as plays and formation in a game. This can be
devastating and lead to serious injuries. This site explains how drinking alcohol can also
interrupt sleep, which can lead to poor memory affecting the brains ability to learn and retain
vital game strategies.