Short Term Effects:• distorted vision, hearing, and coordination• altered perceptions and emotions• impaired judgment• bad breath; hangovers
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem drinking that resultsin health consequences, social, problems, or both. However,alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, refers to a disease thatis characterized by abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior thatleads to impaired control over drinking. Long Term Effects:• Some problems, like those mentioned above, can occur after drinking over a relatively short period of time.
• But other problems--such as liver disease, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and pancreatitis--often develop more gradually and may become evident only after long- term heavy drinking.• Women may develop alcohol-related health problems after consuming less alcohol than men do over a shorter period of time.
•Alcohol-related liver disease More than 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol-related liver disease. Some drinkers develop alcoholichepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, as a result of long-term heavy drinking.
Its symptoms include fever, jaundice (abnormalyellowing of the skin, eyeballs, and urine), and abdominalpain.
•Alcoholic cirrhosisCan cause death if drinking continues. Although cirrhosis isnot reversible, if drinking stops, ones chances of survival improve considerably.
Those with cirrhosis often feel better, and the functioning oftheir liver may improve, if they stop drinking. Althoughliver transplantation may be needed as a last resort, manypeople with cirrhosis who abstain from alcohol may neverneed liver transplantation. In addition, treatment for thecomplications of cirrhosis is available. •Heart disease
Moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart,especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, suchas men over the age of 45 and women after menopause.But long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for highblood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of stroke.
•CancerLong-term heavy drinking increases the risk of developingcertain forms of cancer, especially cancer of the esophagus,mouth, throat, and voice box.Women are at slightly increased risk of developing breastcancer if they drink two or more drinks per day.
Drinking may also increase the risk for developing cancerof the colon and rectum.
•Alcohol and blackoutsAlcohol interferes with the ability to form new memories.Large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly,can produce partial or complete blackouts, which are periodsof memory loss for events that transpired while a person wasdrinking.
Recent studies indicate that blackouts are much morecommon among college drinkers. While often confused withpassing out, or losing consciousness after excessive drinking,blackouts do not involve a loss of consciousness.
Indeed, individuals can engage in a wide range of goal-directed, voluntary, often complicated behaviors duringblackouts -- from driving cars to having sexual intercourse.Alcohol has only a minimal impact on the ability toremember information learned before becoming intoxicatedor on keeping information active in memory for short periodsof time.
For these reasons, outside observers are often unaware of theindividuals true level of intoxication.
•AlcoholismAlcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is adisease that includes four symptoms:• Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.• Loss of control: The inability to limit one’s drinking onany given occasion.
• Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such asnausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, occur whenalcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.• Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts of alcoholin order to “get high.”People who are not alcoholic sometimes do notunderstand why an alcoholic can’t just “use a littlewillpower” to stop drinking. However, alcoholism has
little to do with willpower. Alcoholics are in the grip ofan uncontrollable need, for alcohol that overrides theirability to stop drinking.Although some people are able to recover fromalcoholism without help, the majority of alcoholics needassistance. With treatment and support, many individualsare able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.
•Alcohol AbuseAlcohol abuse differs from alcoholism in that it does notinclude an extremely strong craving for alcohol, loss ofcontrol over drinking, or physical dependence.
Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking thatresults in one or more of the following situations within a12-month period:
• Failure to fulfill major work, school, or homeresponsibilities;• Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, suchas while driving a car or operating machinery;• Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such asbeing arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol orfor physically hurting someone while drunk; and
• Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking. •Signs of a Problem• Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
• Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?• Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?• Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (as an“eye opener”) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover? One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem.
If you answered “yes” to more than one question, it ishighly likely that a problem exists. In either case, it is important that you see your doctor orother health care provider right away to discuss your answersto these questions.
He or she can help you determine whether you have adrinking problem and, if so, recommend the best course ofaction.
Even if you answered “no” to all of the above questions, ifyou encounter drinking-related problems with your job,relationships, health, or the law, you should seekprofessional help.
The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely serious— even fatal— both to you and to others.
•ResourcesAl-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.1600 Corporate Landing ParkwayVirginia Beach, VA 23454–5617Phone: (757) 563–1600; Fax: (757) 563–1655Email: WSO@al-anon.orgInternet address: http://www.al-anon.alateen.orgMakes referrals to local Al-Anon groups, which are support groups for spouses and other significant adultsin an alcoholic person’s life. Also makes referrals to Alateen groups, which offer support to children ofalcoholics. Free informational materials and locations of Al-Anon or Alateen meetings worldwide can be
obtained by calling the toll-free number (888) 425–2666 from the United States or Canada, Monday throughFriday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. (e.s.t.).Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) World Services, Inc.475 Riverside Drive, 11th FloorNew York, NY 10115Phone: (212) 870–3400; Fax: (212) 870–3003Email: via AA’s Web siteInternet address: http://www.aa.orgMakes referrals to local AA groups and provides informational materials on the AA program. Many citiesand towns also have a local AA office listed in the telephone book. All communication should be directedto AA’s mailing address: AA World Services, Inc., Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 459, New York, NY 10163.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)20 Exchange Place, Suite 2902New York, NY 10005Phone: (212) 269–7797; Fax: (212) 269–7510Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHOPE LINE: (800) NCA–CALL (24-hour Affiliate referral)Internet address: http://www.ncadd.orgOffers educational materials and information on alcoholism. Provides phone numbers of local NCADDAffiliates (who can provide information on local treatment resources) via the above toll-free, 24-hourHOPE LINE.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9304
Bethesda, MD 20892-9304Phone: (301) 443–3860; Fax: (301) 480–1726Email: email@example.comInternet address: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov Special thanks to Patricia Yanez, for providing this bulletin board for posting on www.reslife.netPatricia Yánez is currently a senior at Binghamton University. She has been a ResidentAssistant for three years. Her projects as a Resident Assistant (RA) include programsthat enhance the classroom experience, promoting diversity within the university andworking with the “College Students in Transition Class”. She has sat on manycommittees and has been a part of the process of selecting new RAs.
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