What makes you feel drunk?
Alcohol is a mood altering substance and affects the nerves that pass messages around the body by slowing them down. Sometimes people act more lively when they drink or become giddy as the alcohol affects the parts of the brain responsible for self control. But as the affects of alcohol heighten, your co-ordination becomes disturbed and you become shaky on your feet, your speech becomes slurred and you may get double vision. The more you drink the more your judgement becomes impaired and your emotional responses becomes stronger. Aggression and anger rises to the surface. You may also do things that would not be normally part of how you behave.
As you continuing drinking the alcohol passes into your bloodstream. If you drink faster than one drink every hour, the alcohol will flood the bloodstream and can affect the brain stem and even shut it down which causes damage to vital body organs. Classic warning signs of this is when you start to forget what you are saying or are unsteady on your feet or become aggressive for no reason, or even fall asleep.
Enjoying a drink is part of the Irish culture, or so we are led to believe. The dangers and the long and short term affects of alcohol on our bodies is something we should all learn about and should be taught to every child at an early age. In our culture the custom is to buy “rounds” for those we are socialising with, which adds to the amount of alcohol we consume and also the extras that we did not mean to drink. If women are consuming the same amount of “rounds” as men, that spells even bigger trouble for the woman who is unable to absorb the same quantity as men. . But whatever way we drink all the latest research suggests that drinking until we get drunk and repeatedly subjecting the brain to the effects of withdrawal from large doses of alcohol damage brain cells and with binge drinking is even more detrimental to the brain cells.
Research and anecdotal evidence shows that many adolescents start to drink at a young age and found that students who are binge drinkers engage in risky behaviours that harm themselves and others. Recent research in the USA states that those who start to drink at a young age start using marijuana and cocaine, having sex with six or more partners and earning low and fail grades in school. As children move into adulthood they must contend with physical, emotional and lifestyle changes. As the brain continues to develop into the twenties and continue to establish important communication connections, the abuse of alcohol has far reaching consequences for the individual.
Scientists currently examining the effects of alcohol on the brain say that long lasting impairment of the brain will affect long-term memory and learning skills and lead to liver failure are a cause for grave concern. Doctors are now finding a huge increase in the numbers of young people presenting with elevated liver enzymes and disease that are now being found in young people who began drinking heavily as adolescents. The drinking of alcohol during puberty may also upset the critical hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs and adversely affect the maturation of the reproductive system. In the USA all states have set the minimum legal drinking age at 21.
So why are we in this country allowing the abuse of alcohol amongst our teenagers to continue unabated when we are well aware of the damaging factors that will follow.?
Parents ability to influence whether their children drink, setting clear rules and consistently enforcing them and monitoring their children’s behaviour all help to reduce the likelihood of underage drinking. As we have widespread and aggressive advertising of alcohol throughout the country promoting events associated with young adults and regarded by many as part of growing up, we as a society must recognise that underage drinking is dangerous not alone for the drinker but also for society. This is evident by all the statistics showing alcohol involved motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and other injuries. When will those in authority call halt and allow our children to grow up in safety and free from an alcohol culture? We have laws that curb the disastrous abuse of alcohol but they are not implemented. Look at our streets on weekend nights, look at young people on foreign holidays, look at all the groups of young people gathered in gangs, all drunk and so many disorderly, it cannot be rocket science to establish where the alcohol comes from and prosecute the offenders.
There are multiple volumes written about alcohol and its effects on both young and old, but yet we continue to turn a blind eye and allow this damaging culture to continue. We see how angry people become when we see the use of illegal drugs being openly sold on our streets and in our towns and villages, yet we all know that alcohol has far more devastating effects on society and on those who must bear the brunt of its use.
The estimated cost to society by the misuse of alcohol to the health care system is 1,200 million euros. The cost of alcohol related suicides is 167 million euros, road accidents cost the state an enormous 526 million euro and alcohol related crime a staggering 1,189 million euro. So if you think that the drinking of alcohol has no impact on your life, think again. Adding up all the costs in other areas of life, like absence from work, accidents at work and premature deaths, the figure comes to 3,719 million euro. (Byrne 2010). Yet a blind eye and lack of law enforcement continues in spite of the enormous cost to every person in the state.
Over the past number of years there has been at least ten committees/groups tasked with bringing forward recommendations on alcohol issues. Fifteen reports have been produced but few of the recommendations have been implemented. Why? These reports show the disruption to children, family life, relationships, domestic violence, child neglect and a myriad of other after affects of the misuse of alcohol. So where does the start of the tackling of alcohol problems begin and cognisance taken of what it inflicts on society?
As with every other problem, the answer starts with YOU. Are you drinking too much? Are you drinking at home? Are you showing good example to your children? Are you monitoring their access to alcohol? Are you explaining the long-term effects on their futures, their education and their wellbeing? If not, why not?
Do you discuss the benefits of abstaining from alcohol until your children are mature adults? Do you promote abstinence as a way of living? As children grow up and either go to third level colleges or to work have they been nurtured to be able to stand on their own two feet without the necessity to use drugs of any nature? These are all the questions that adults and parents must ask themselves to spare the deep unhappiness and misery that the abuse of alcohol as well as other drugs cause. If you care about your children then surely you will offer them the advice, example and encouragement to allow them to grow up in happiness and tranquillity without having to revert to mood altering substances.