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Shima Sanavi

HLTH 1050

The Impact of Alcohol on Society

Alcohol is a legal, sedative drug which changes the way we feel and react in our daily

lives by altering with our normal brain function. The discovery/invention of alcohol isn’t clear,

but we know “Fermented beverages existed in early Egyptian civilization, and there is evidence

of an early alcoholic drink in China around 7000 B.C. In India, an alcoholic beverage called sura,

distilled from rice, was in use between 3000 and 2000 B.C.” (drugfreeworld.org). Alcohol does

not contain any nutrients for the body, in fact it has a lot of negative influence on the human

brain and body. Knowing this, unlike many other drugs that are as harmful as alcohol and are

illegal to use, alcohol is legal in approximately 182 countries. Leaving 13 countries that have

illegalized it, however this doesn’t mean that alcohol isn’t consumed at all in these 13 countries.

Alcoholic beverages have been used in society for many purposes, but unfortunately people have

been using alcohol in the worst way they possibly could.

According to VeryWellMind.com, “approximately 14 million people in the United States

meet the criteria for severe alcohol use disorders and alcohol is involved in more than 88,000

deaths per year.” Alcohol is the most common drug used in the United States among adults. Here

are some statistics from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; “In 2012, 3.3

million deaths, or 5.9 percent of all global deaths (7.6 percent for men and 4.1 percent for

women), were attributable to alcohol consumption. In 2014, the World Health Organization

reported that alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions,

most notably DSM–IV alcohol dependence liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. In 2012, 5.1

percent of the burden of disease and injury worldwide (139 million disability-adjusted life-years)
was attributable to alcohol consumption. Globally, alcohol misuse was the fifth leading risk

factor for premature death and disability in 2010. Among people between the ages of 15 and 49,

it is the first. In the age group 20–39 years, approximately 25 percent of the total deaths are

alcohol attributable.” This research gathered by NIH.gov, gives great insight of how much

alcohol is used globally and in the United States. The excessive use of alcohol has a massive

impact on the number of deaths around the world, making alcohol one of the biggest drug issues.

As stated above alcohol has many negative side effects, some of these short-term effects are;

slurred speech, drowsiness, vomiting , diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, breathing difficulties,

distorted vision and hearing, impaired judgment, decreased perception and coordination,

unconsciousness, anemia (loss of red blood cells), blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker

cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence). However the long-term effects

are alcohol are more serious and more life threatening. Some of the long-term effects are;

unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning, intentional injuries such as

firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence, increased on-the-job injuries and loss of

productivity, increased family problems, broken relationships, alcohol poisoning, high blood

pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems,

permanent damage to the brain, vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder

characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation, ulcers, gastritis (inflammation of stomach

walls), malnutrition, cancer of the mouth and throat (drugfreeworld.org). “In 2009, alcohol-

related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United

States”. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of cancers in the mouth, esophagus, pharynx,

larynx, liver, and breast (NIH.gov).


When a person consumes alcohol, their brain releases endorphins (the “pleasure

hormones”) which bind to opiate receptors in the brain. This causes a person to feel happy, more

sociable, and stress free. However this reacts the same way other drugs such as opiates and

cocaine do in the brain. The more a person consumes, the more endorphins are released and more

alcohol is desired. Scientists have agreed that moderate drinking is drinking no more than 3-4

standard drinks per drinking episode, no more than 9 drinks per week for women and 12-14 for

men (PDB101). Drinking more than this amount, can cause problems such as AUD, Alcohol Use

Disorder. According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older have AUD. This

includes 9.8 million men (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2

percent of women in this age group). Binge drinking is a very serious problem that could lead to

mental, social, and physical problems. Almost every binge drinker has ruined their life by being

too attached to alcohol. Binge drinkers usually lose their jobs and family in the process. Heavy

binge drinkers isolate themselves, because sometimes they are embarrassed to be seen by their

friends and family, other times they are too drunk and attached to their drink to care about their

surroundings. They destroy their normal brain function, liver, heart, etc. But they are not only

ruining their own life, but also affecting their kids. “More than 10 percent of U.S. children live

with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study” (NIH.gov). These children

usually grow up to be like their parents, because they weren’t taught better or they had been

growing up in places where alcohol and drugs were very common. Before making the choice of

drinking alcohol, first we must think about the future and the massive amount of bad possibilities

that these occurrences can occur.

Alcohol has been promoted by many social media sources, including; movies, tv shows,

songs, commercials, etc. “Last quarter, the alcoholic-beverage industry spent $421 million on
advertising, up 26% compared to the same time last year. Beer brands were far and away the

biggest spenders ($357 million), followed by winemakers ($11 million).” These advertisements

are seen by millions of people on tv, billboards, youtube, etc. Especially during sport events; like

the super bowl or the world cup. When people see these beautifully advertised drinks, they get

tempted to try it and the alcohol industry keeps on growing because of the high amount of

consumers. Another source that alcohol is promoted through is; music. Artists have a huge

influence on their fans behavior. Many songs nowadays are mentioning all sorts of negative

behavior from drinking alcohol to drugs and sex. Many teenagers are affected by these songs as

they enter their teens and as we all know, the teenage years are critical in one's personality and

lifestyle development. Artists need to be more mindful about the words that they put into these

songs, but unfortunately most are only concerned about how much money they can make by

these songs.

The use of alcohol doesn’t just stop with drinking a few drinks or having alcohol use

disorder. Many people engage in other negative drugs from the use of alcohol. A lot of drug

deals that happen start with alcohol and as they progress they get to more and more dangerous

drugs such as; heroin and cocaine. As mentioned previously 13 out of the 195 countries around

the world have banned alcohol for some reasons, and one could be the illegal trades that can

happen if alcohol is legalized. Another reason why some countries have banned alcohol is

because of religious reasons. Most of the countries that have banned alcohol are Islamic

countries and in the Islamic religion it is a sin to consume alcohol. If seen with alcohol or drunk

an individual may face arrest, fines and possible imprisonment. The alcohol prohibition is not

something that is taken lightly in Islamic countries.


Alcohol usage is something that should not be taken lightly, because it is an serious issue.

Having alcohol being legal does not make it less dangerous than other drugs, such as marijuana,

opiates, cocaine, or heroin. It is as risky as all other drugs and has the power of destroying one’s

life. Before you make the decision to drink, take a moment and think about all of the negative

side effects alcohol has on one’s body and mental health.

References

Moss, H B. “The Impact of Alcohol on Society: a Brief Overview.” Current Neurology and
Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine,
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23731412.
“A Brief History of Alcohol & Alcoholic Beverages - Drug-Free World.” Foundation for a
Drug-Free World, www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol/a-short-history.html.

T, Buddy. “How Alcoholism Affects Society.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash,


www.verywellmind.com/impact-on-society-63268.

“Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-
alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics.

“PDB101: Molecule of the Month: Alcohol Dehydrogenase.” PDB-101: Acetylcholine


Receptor,
pdb101.rcsb.org/motm/13.

Coffey, Helen. “MAPPED: THESE 13 Countries Ban Booze - and You Could Be WHIPPED for
Drinking.” Express.co.uk, Express.co.uk, 16 Feb. 2017,
www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/768312/countries-ban-alcohol.