Effects of Alcoholic Drinks to College Students Essay
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Although alcohol may give you a feeling of elation and aroused senses due to a lessening of inhibitions during the early stages of alcohol intoxication, alcohol is a depressant. It depresses the central nervous system—leading to slowed reactions, slurred speech, and ultimately, to unconsciousness. Alcohol progressively affects different brain areas. Alcohol first affects the part of the brain that controls inhibitions. When people lose their inhibitions, they may talk more, get rowdy, and do foolish things. After several drinks, they may feel “high,” but really, their nervous system is slowing down.
Alcohol acts fast because it is not digested like food. Instead, it moves directly into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestine. It takes a long time for alcohol’s effects to wear off—as it takes approximately one hour for the liver to process the alcohol in one drink. ALCOHOL’S DAMAGING EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory: Clearly, alcohol affects the brain.
Some of these impairments are detectable after only one or two drinks and quickly resolve when drinking stops.
On the other hand, a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety. Exactly how alcohol affects the brain and the likelihood of reversing the impact of heavy drinking on the brain remain hot topics in alcohol research today. We do know that heavy drinking may have extensive and far–reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care.
And even moderate drinking leads to short–term impairment, as shown by extensive research on the impact of drinking on driving. A number of factors influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain (1), including * how much and how often a person drinks; * the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she has been drinking; * the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism; * whether he or she is at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure; and * his or her general health status. BLACKOUTS AND MEMORY LAPSES
Alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory after only a few drinks and, as the amount of alcohol increases, so does the degree of impairment. Large quantities of alcohol, especially when consumed quickly and on an empty stomach, can produce a blackout, or an interval of time for which the intoxicated person cannot recall key details of events, or even entire events. Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers than previously assumed and should be viewed as a potential consequence of acute intoxication regardless of age or whether the drinker is clinically dependent on alcohol (2).
White and colleagues (3) surveyed 772 college undergraduates about their experiences with blackouts and asked, “Have you ever awoken after a night of drinking not able to remember things that you did or places that you went? ” Of the students who had ever consumed alcohol, 51 percent reported blacking out at some point in their lives, and 40 percent reported experiencing a blackout in the year before the survey. Of those who reported drinking in the 2 weeks before the survey, 9. 4 percent said they blacked out during that time.
The students reported learning later that they had participated in a wide range of potentially dangerous events they could not remember, including vandalism, unprotected sex, and driving. Binge Drinking and Blackouts| • Drinkers who experience blackouts typically drink too much and too quickly, which causes their blood alcohol levels to rise very rapidly. College students may be at particular risk for experiencing a blackout, as an alarming number of college students engage in binge drinking.
Binge drinking, for a typical adult, is defined as consuming five or more drinks in about 2 hours for men, or four or more drinks for women. | ARE WOMEN MORE VULNERABLE TO ALCOHOL’S EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN? Women are more vulnerable than men to many of the medical consequences of alcohol use. For example, alcoholic women develop cirrhosis (5), alcohol–induced damage of the heart muscle (i. e. , cardiomyopathy) (6), and nerve damage (i. e. , peripheral neuropathy) (7) after fewer years of heavy drinking than do alcoholic men.
Studies comparing men and women’s sensitivity to alcohol–induced brain damage, however, have not been as conclusive. Using imaging with computerized tomography, two studies (8,9) compared brain shrinkage, a common indicator of brain damage, in alcoholic men and women and reported that male and female alcoholics both showed significantly greater brain shrinkage than control subjects. Studies also showed that both men and women have similar learning and memory problems as a result of heavy drinking (10).
The difference is that alcoholic women reported that they had been drinking excessively for only about half as long as the alcoholic men in these studies. This indicates that women’s brains, like their other organs, are more vulnerable to alcohol–induced damage than men’s (11). SUMMARY Alcoholics are not all alike. They experience different degrees of impairment, and the disease has different origins for different people. Consequently, researchers have not found conclusive evidence that any one variable is solely responsible for the brain deficits found in alcoholics.
Characterizing what makes some alcoholics vulnerable to brain damage whereas others are not remains the subject of active research (34). The good news is that most alcoholics with cognitive impairment show at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning within a year of abstinence, though some people take much longer (35–37). Clinicians must consider a variety of treatment methods to help people stop drinking and to recover from alcohol–related brain impairments, and tailor these treatments to the individual patient. Advanced technology will have an important role in developing these therapies.
Clinicians can use brain–imaging techniques to monitor the course and success of treatment, because imaging can reveal structural, functional, and biochemical changes in living patients over time. Promising new medications also are in the early stages of development, as researchers strive to design therapies that can help prevent alcohol’s harmful effects and promote the growth of new brain cells to take the place of those that have been damaged by alcohol. ¦ As well as damaging their health, university students who drink too much alcohol may also be damaging their academic performance.
Alcohol: The Benefits of Moderate Drinking Drinking alcohol in moderate amounts can have positive influences on physical and mental health. While alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances on the market, it is also one that features certain benefits for drinkers who consume it in safe amounts. For individuals who consume low levels of alcohol, benefits like reduced stress, increased cardiovascular health and decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes offer a wealth of reasons for consumers to drink in moderation. Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Tension.
Research shows that the consumption of alcohol in moderate amounts can lead to certain psychological benefits. Low levels of alcohol can trigger stress reduction, easy feelings of anxiety and help consumers to reduce tension. In addition, low levels of alcohol consumption can also cause the consumer to feel more pleasant and relaxed. Studies on sleep show that people who drink in moderation get more sleep on average than do those who indulge in excess. These psychological effects of moderate drinking are positive ones that can be beneficial to the consumer.
A Longer Life The positive psychological effects of drinking in moderation can be associated with the studies that show moderate drinkers tend to love longer than people who don’t drink at all or those who drink in excess. Studies from a number of different countries including China, the United States and England indicate that longevity is highest among groups of people who drink alcohol in moderation. Increased Cardiovascular Health Several studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderation has a positive correlation with certain aspects of cardiovascular health.
In particular, the risk of developing coronary artery disease is significantly lowered in conjunction with moderate consumption of alcohol. Another link between alcohol and cardiovascular health shows that moderate consumption of alcohol has a positive correlation with survivability in the event of a heart attack. Those who drink low levels of alcohol are more likely to live and less likely to experience another heart attack. Alcohol produces several positive effects on the body when consumed in low levels. For example, it increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner once it enters the human body, much like common aspirin does. Thus, when consumed in moderation, it can reduce the likelihood of developing blood clots in arteries. Decreased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes While consuming alcohol in large quantities has been proven to put drinkers at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, some studies show that drinking in moderation might have the opposite effect. The relationship between alcohol and type 2 diabetes is the focus of a great number of ongoing studies.
Findings show, however, that moderate drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than heavy drinkers. All of these health benefits associated with moderate drinking serve as an incentive for consumers to limit their levels of alcohol intake. Too much alcohol eliminates the health benefits described above. The best way to maximize on the health benefits of alcohol is to consume it in low levels. Negative Effects of Drinking Alcohol on Physical Fitness While occasional alcohol use may not have a major impact on physical activity, there is a clear link between sports, exercise and drinking alcohol.
In fact, alcohol is the most widely used drug by athletes which is why alcohol related difficulties seem to be more common among those who exercise regularly. It is clear that drinking in excess can negatively influence exercise. Studies done to determine the influence that alcohol has on exercise Studies have shown that consuming alcohol has the following influence on exercise: *Diminishes the use of amino acids and glucose by the muscles of the skeleton *A detrimental influence on the supply of energy *An impairment in metabolism while exercising
In addition, persuasive evidence implies that continual use of alcohol is connected with unfavorable effects on systems of the body and organs, including the liver, brain, heart and blood vessels. Exercising while under the influence of alcohol Drinking alcohol has a negative influence on motor skills, stamina and aerobic ability. Alcohol has the following effects on motor skills: *Delayed reaction time *A decrease in hand-eye coordination *Less precision and balance Alcohol has the following effects on strength training and short term athletic functioning: *A decline in athletic performance as a whole.
*Decreased times in cycling and running *Weakened pumping power of the heart *Impaired temperature control while exercising *Weakening of grip strength *Decreased jump altitude *Lower 200 and 400-meter running performance *Becoming tired more quickly while participating in high-intensity workouts Alcohol has the following effects on aerobic performance: *Dehydration *Considerably diminished aerobic performance *Hindered 800 and 1500-meter running speeds *An increase in health risks after working out in hot atmospheres for an extended amount of time Working out with a hangover.
A hangover is caused by a number of factors including, dehydration and toxicity from the alcohol. The symptoms include a gloomy mood and headache. Unfortunately, these side effects can cause a decline in athletic performance. Working out with a hangover has been shown to considerably decrease aerobic adequacy by as great as 11 percent. Long term effects that alcohol has on exercise performance Long term, heavy (more than two drinks each day) alcohol use can impair exercise in the following ways: *Hindering the cardiovascular reaction to exercise
*Cause nutritional deficits from changes in nutrient consumption, digestion and metabolism. *Cause muscle injury, wasting and feebleness in several muscles, including the heart. *Changing the body’s hormonal atmosphere It is also important to note that women might be more susceptible to the toxic results of alcohol on the heart. It is clear that drinking in excess can negatively influence exercise. Alcoholism is a growing problem in the United States and is even a problem in teenagers, too.
Unfortunately, there are a variety of negative effects that are associated with the consumption of alcohol. While the negative effects can either be long term or short term, all of them start with the first drink of alcohol. Negative effects may not become apparent immediately, but as time goes on, the adverse effects of alcohol will become more and more noticeable and, in some cases, they can even lead to death. Diseases One of the negative effects that alcohol tends to have is the increased risk for multiple serious diseases.
Increased consumption of alcohol can lead to serious medical problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, which often results in death. Infections, sleeping disorders and sexual dysfunctions can also be caused by consumption of alcohol. Recent studies have also shown that consumption of alcohol can actually raise the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, throat cancer and intestinal cancer. Consuming alcohol can be very serious and there are many grave negative effects that are caused by alcohol. Avoiding alcohol can help you avoid these adverse effects and perhaps even save your life.