A Brief History of Alcohol
Alcohol has a long and colorful history in our world. From the early Egyptians, to the ancient Greeks, to more modern times, it has played an integral role in many societies. From the beginning of its existence, people have known about many of its short term effects, such as slurred speech, loss of coordination, impaired judgment and, in more extreme cases, blacking out. You can read many warnings against drinking too much from these older civilizations. You can also read many books and plays which have the “drunkard” character, who the authors stereotyped as slow and easily taken advantage of by others.
Fast forward to the early 20th century, where the United States tightened regulations regarding alcohol, resulting in its prohibition in 1920. However, after just 13 years, it was amended, and alcohol was once again legal in the States.
The Effects of Alcohol
Though those in the past had less information and scientific advances to know the full breadth of the dangers of alcohol like we can in the present, they were obviously concerned based on what they did see. Thanks to our modern technology, we are able to know not only the short term effects of alcohol, but also the long-term effects, as well as when alcohol use begins to become a problem.
Alcohol affects certain parts of the brain that control movement, judgment, speech, and memory. This leads to many doing or saying things under the influence that they otherwise wouldn’t do or say. The more one drinks, the more heavily influenced he or she is by it. After a certain amount of time, heavy drinking can lead to more lasting effects.
Some complications that can arise from continued over-use of alcohol include, but are not limited to, liver disease, brain deficits, high-blood pressure, increased risk of strokes, and gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls).
Abusing alcohol, however, produces more than just health risks. Those who are under the influence of alcohol aren’t always the best judges of what is safe. This can lead many of them to getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, putting themselves and all around them in immediate danger. According to SAMHSA in 2013, a whopping 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol is also known for making people more violent, leading to an increase in homicides, suicides, and abuse. In a study conducted by the Department of Justice, out of 2 million convicted offenders, 37 percent of them admitted to being under the influence of alcohol at the time of their arrest.
Alcohol Abuse and Families
When one abuses alcohol, it affects everyone and everything around them. Families and friends feel the impact of the abuse, even when not drinking themselves. Seeing someone for whom you care become isolated, lose control over their lives, or get into legal trouble is not only unsettling, but can be devastating as well.
Many times, when it’s the parent who’s abusing, the oldest child assumes the parental role in their family, robbing them of a normal childhood putting unnecessary stress on their young shoulders. In many cases, children are taken from their parent and placed with a family member or into foster care, sometimes even being separated from their siblings.
Other family members, such as siblings or parents, come to realize that they can no longer rely on their loved one who is abusing, and start to feel a mixture of emotions regarding the person, ranging from sadness, to frustration, to confusion and many more.
When alcohol takes over the life of one person, it takes over the life of everyone connected to them. Whether they are single, in a relationship, part of a big family, small family, not in contact with their family, their actions affect everyone around them at any given time. All it takes is one time. One time behind the wheel of a car while drunk, one time blacking out and not remembering what occurred the night before, one time hitting someone or saying something hurtful to ruin a life.
Take time today to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and how it affects your life.