Alcohol is considered as a social beverage and its purpose in social events is to make the guests feel free from inhibitions and ready to have a good time. The controlled use of alcohol is not considered to be an addiction, as long as the person drinking can impose a limit to him-herself and stop consuming according to it. Increasing the amount of alcohol consumed at once leads to dependence and consequently to poor judgement, a limited reaction speed and a much reduced attention. Medically, alcohol is considered to be a psychoactive drug, which affects the functions of the central nervous system, depressing its actions.
The suggested unit of alcohol a day by the Department of Health is for women up to 2-3 units and for men up to 3-4 units. A ‘unit’ of alcohol can be considered the equivalent of a small glass of wine or as half of a regular beer. However, statistics show that many people consume more than the advised amount of alcohol, and combined with a poor diet, this can damage one’s physical and mental health tremendously.
On the short term, alcohol causes the most blissful feelings: excitement, happiness, increased self-esteem and confidence, making the occasion, when it is consumed, fun. After the effects of euphoria are starting to fade, in case of consumption of large amounts of alcohol, the substance leads to functional difficulty, the shutdown of some organs and in most severe cases, it can cause death by overdose. Functional difficulty most likely to occur is loss of memory, eyesight, and poor movement coordination. Shutdown refers to the loss of consciousness and slowed down function of the organism and circulation, progressing in severe cases into coma, and/or death.
On the long term, habitual drinking will increase the efficiency of the liver to remove alcohol concentration from the bloodstream, meaning that the addicted person needs to increase the amount of beverage consumed in order to feel the same effects of the drink. Additionally, alcohol addiction can cause a plethora of diseases, some of them being dementia, cancer (mouth, liver, bowel, etc.), heart disease, brain damage, poor physical condition and malnutrition. Most commonly, an alcoholic will become, after years of addiction, only the shadow of the person that they used to be, both intellectually and physically.
A person is an alcohol addict when he/she cannot defeat the compulsion of drinking. Usually, alcohol addicts start drinking from early in the morning, in order to reduce the effects of withdrawal and the feelings of depression, low self-esteem and disgust that come with it. Additionally, a person that cannot control how much he/she drinks also shows signs of addiction and when the lifestyle is constantly adapted to the use of alcohol, this means that such a person needs to overcome the addiction.
A common characteristic of the way young people drink alcohol is binge drinking. This refers to drinking a large amount of alcohol in a very short time. Simply put, binge drinking refers to consuming alcohol in order to get drunk. Such a habit is extremely dangerous, due to the fact that the organism has to deal with a high concentration of poisonous substance attacking the body’s cells in a very short period of time. Binge drinking does not only lead to addiction, but it also causes great damage to the physical health of a person in a really short period of time.