There are many areas of which I will study, firstly I will explain the science behind alcohol and what it can do to harm or benefit your body. Then I will discuss all the problems like drink driving, the expenses of alcohol, binge drinking and the medical issues that some will face if they drink more alcohol than what is recommended. Then I will compare the positives to drinking alcohol like how if you drink responsibly it does have health benefits to the negatives such as how it can cause liver failure and in extreme cases even cancer.
Lastly I will come to a conclusion based on the evidence I will present here and I will show where I found out all of information in my references page and then I will state whether I thought the information was reliable or not.
The effect of alcohol in your body;
From the second you take your first sip, alcohol starts affecting your body and mind.
After one or two drinks you may start feeling more sociable, but drink too much and basic human functions, such as walking and talking become so much harder. You might also start saying things you don’t mean and behaving out of character. Some of alcohol’s effects disappear overnight – while others can stay with you a lot longer, or indeed become permanent, no one realises how long alcohol stays in your body for but in fact it is a lot longer than you initially think.
If you’ve drunk heavily the night before, you’ll almost certainly wake up with a hangover.
Alcohol irritates the stomach, so heavy drinking can cause sickness and nausea and sometimes even diarrhoea. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect, which is one reason why excessive drinking can lead to a headache the morning after. Your vision is affected a lot also, and when you have drank so much your vision will go
From this to this then finally to this
Once swallowed, a drink enters the stomach and small intestine, where small blood vessels carry it to the bloodstream. Approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and most of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. Alcohol is metabolised by the liver, where enzymes break down the alcohol. Understanding the rate of metabolism is critical to understanding the effects of alcohol. We’ve all heard people claim that they “Sober up” very quickly, just as we’ve seen people who appear to stay drunk well into the night despite having only a few drinks. However both of these are actually provably false. Alcohol is one of the most predictable chemical reactions for your body. It burns off at an almost perfectly precise rate of about 1 standard drink each hour, but this depends on your weight. (Ref 1, http://brown.edu)
Many people enjoy a drink without any problems. But binge drinking or drinking heavily over longer periods of time can have very serious consequences. Alcohol misuse not only harms the individual but also is damaging to relationships and society in general in terms of violence and crime, accidents and drink driving. As well as the recognised immediate effects of drinking too much, like nausea/vomiting, binge drinking and prolonged heavy drinking over longer periods of time can affect you in many different ways.
Spending a Saturday night at ‘house party’ will nearly guarantee that you will see some.. or many people stumbling around, claiming to not know what they are doing or having difficulty forming the words to express their claims that the room is in fact, spinning. You simply excuse their behavior, assuming they’ve just had “a little too much to drink.” (Ref 2, http://www.drinkaware.co.uk)
Alcohol and your health;
Alcohol misuse is a major public health problem, placing a heavy burden on society, and affecting a large number of individuals of all ages. Contrary to what many people believe, alcohol is not a stimulant. It is a depressant. This is why drinking too much often leads to impaired judgement, slurring of the speech, a tendency to violent behaviour and loss of short-term memory. As alcohol also irritates the stomach, heavy drinking can cause sickness and nausea, and sometimes diarrhoea. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect, which is the main reason why excessive drinking can lead to a hangover. It can also lead to temporary impotence in men.
How many calories are in an alcoholic drink?
With a pint of bear the same as a medium slice of pizza, and a standard size ‘ready to drink’ bottle ‘alcopop’ the same as 100g of cookies, the calories in alcohol soon add up and are a lot more than you think
Gin or vodka and tonic =126. Dark rum and coke =142. Medium glass of white wine =130. Medium glass of red wine =120. Bottle of wine (white) =555 Bottle of wine (red) =510. Pint of larger =240. Pint of cider =180-250. Ale =180-230. Liqueur=100 -170. Brandy =110. Whiskey=55. Mixed drink =160-228.
Moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers. In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), and several major cancers. Recent studies show that moderate use of alcohol may have a beneficial effect on the coronary system.
In general, for healthy people, one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men would be considered the maximum amount of alcohol consumption to be considered moderate use. By healthy people, we are referring to non-pregnant women, individuals not addicted to alcohol, and people without pre-existing medical conditions, among others. However, the amount of alcohol that a person can drink safely is highly individual, depending on genetics, age, sex, weight and family history, etc.
Why people drink alcohol and why is it a problem?
People drink for several reasons. Some like the taste, some like the feeling, some do it because of peer pressure. Alcohol can be very good or very bad. It puts you in a different state of mind. If you drink it responsible and in a safe environment it can be lots of fun. When you are drunk, you are aware of what’s going on but can’t really control it. Some people get so drunk that they do things they wouldn’t normally do. They run into traffic, they talk and go home with people they never met, etc. It can be extremely dangerous.
I know everyone says drinking is cool and I can be but if you are the “sloppy drunk” at a party but trust me you won’t be cool the next day. Best advice is to start drinking alcohol is to watch and see what people around you who are drunk and see how it can affect people if not consumed right. I also found a survey that was done in 2008 which asked questions to British 15 to 25 year olds of what the main reason they drank alcohol was.
A lot of research has been done to find and explore the reason why people drink alcohol. From research conducted in Britain among 15 to 25 year-olds, the following answers came up:
– Sociability (71%)
– Like the taste (51%)
– Feel at ease (12%)
– Get intoxicated (6%)
– Get drunk (2%)
– Because everybody does it (6%)
– To forget problems (0%)
Alcohol gets risky when you need more to feel good. If you can’t do that anymore on your own, and you use the alcohol for it, at a certain point you run the risk of starting to drink more and more each time to still feel the effects. This can be the beginning of an addiction. If you drink to feel good, you should ask yourself if you can also feel at ease without alcohol.
The medical issues;
Alcoholism is a word which many people use to mean alcohol dependence (alcohol addiction). Some people are problem drinkers without being dependent on alcohol. If you are alcohol-dependent then detoxification (‘detox’) can help you to stop drinking. There are roughly four levels of alcohol drinking – social, heavy, problem and dependent. As a rule, each level increases the risk to your health and safety. Most people drink some alcohol. However, even a small amount of alcohol can be dangerous if you drive, operate machinery, or take some types of medication.
One unit of alcohol is in about half a pint of beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits. Drinking above the recommended safe limit is hazardous. That is, it increases your risk of developing diseases such as cirrhosis (liver damage), damage to the pancreas, certain cancers, heart problems, sexual problems, and other conditions. About 1 in 3 men, and about 1 in 7 women, drink more than the safe limit. In general, the more you drink, the greater the risk.
Alcohol and pregnancy;
If you’re pregnant a major factor to consider is how alcohol will affect you and your developing baby.
If you continue to drink heavily when you are pregnant you put your baby at risk of developing foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Whereas previously the occasional drink (one or two units once or twice a week) was considered OK for a pregnant woman, Government advice now states that pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether. However other health guidelines say it’s fine to drink small amounts after the third month of pregnancy. Confused? It’s not surprising.
Risks of drinking while pregnant;
Various studies have found that women are drinking more generally, and as a result this will lead to rising levels of drinking during pregnancy. When you drink, the alcohol crosses from your bloodstream through the placenta into your baby’s blood. If you drink heavily when you are pregnant you could be putting the development of your baby at risk. In the first three months of pregnancy, heavy drinking can damage the developing organs and nervous system of the foetus. If you continue to drink heavily when you are pregnant you put your baby at risk of developing foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The condition is a life long one, and children can have a range of symptoms, including low birth weight, facial abnormalities and learning and behavioural difficulties. The severity of the condition depends how much alcohol was consumed during pregnancy.
Pro’s and con’s of drinking alcohol;
* Reduce your risk of developing heart disease * Cancer of the pancreas
* Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack * Heart muscle damage
* Possibly reduce your risk of strokes * Strokes
* Lower your risk of gallstones * Miscarriage
The expenses of alcohol;
The price of alcohol in relation to disposable income is a major influence on consumption. Generally the cheaper alcohol is relative to disposable income, the more is consumed. UK prices of alcoholic drink as measured by the Alcohol Price Index, have increased considerably more than general price increases. Between 1980 and 2003 the price of alcohol increased by 24% more than prices generally. However, households’ disposable income increased by 91% in real terms over the same period, making alcohol 54% more affordable in 2003 than in 1980. Indices of alcohol price relative to retail price index, real households’ disposable income and affordability of alcohol, 1980 to 2006
What is this drink culture costing our society?
The combined costs of alcohol-related crime and disorder, health problems, lost productivity and domestic break-up have been estimated as approaching £20 billion a year. There are an estimated 1.2 million incidents of alcohol-related violence, and 85,000 incidents of drink-driving a year. Drink accounts for one in 26 NHS “bed-days”, and up to 17 million working days are lost annually through alcohol abuse.
Underage and binge drinking;
It is possible to drink legally and safely – when you’re over 21. But if you’re under 21, or if you drink too much at any age, alcohol can be especially risky.
Many kids begin drinking as early as middle school or even sooner. This is dangerous. Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime and sexual assault. They are more likely to have serious problems in school. They are more likely to be involved in drinking-related traffic crashes. They are also more likely to develop problems with alcohol later in life. Kids often begin drinking to look “cool” or fit in with their peers. Parents can do many things to help their kids avoid alcohol problems. Get help for your child if you suspect a drinking problem.
What is binge drinking?
The NHS definition of binge drinking is drinking heavily in a short space of time to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol. The amount of alcohol someone needs to drink in a session for it to be classed as ‘bingeing’ is less clearly defined but the marker used by the NHS and National Office of Statistics is drinking more than double the daily recommended units of alcohol in one session. The government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
Binge drinking for men, therefore, is drinking more than 8 units of alcohol – or about three pints of strong beer. For women, it’s drinking more than 6 units of alcohol, equivalent to two large glasses of wine.
8,620 road accidents in 2008 happened when a driver was over the legal limit for alcohol. 2,020 people were killed or seriously injured as a result. While these figures are high, accidents involving drink driving have decreased hugely over the last 30 years. Deaths and serious injuries related to drink driving have fallen over three-quarters since 1980.
What’s the law on drink driving?
In the UK, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50mg per 100ml of blood.
How much can I drink and stay under the limit?
There is no foolproof way of drinking and staying under the limit. The amount of alcohol you would need to drink to be considered drink driving varies from person to person. It depends on:
1. Your weight
2. Your gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women)
3. Your metabolism
4. Your current stress levels
5. Whether you’ve eaten recently
6. Age (younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly
How alcohol affects driving
Many of the functions that we depend on to drive safely are affected when we drink alcohol: the brain takes longer to receive messages from the eye; processing information becomes more difficult; and instructions to the body’s muscles are delayed resulting in slower reaction times. Blurred and double vision can also occur, which means the ability to see things correctly whilst driving is reduced. People are also more likely to take potentially dangerous risks behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking alcohol.