Introduction to Alcoholism

Alcohol can be traced back to ancient times when Egyptians used beer and wine for ritual and celebratory purposes (Hanson 1995). Osiris, the god of wine, was praised throughout the entire land of Egypt. The Egyptians believed that this important god also invented beer, a beverage that was considered a necessity of life and was brewed in the home. Both beer and wine were created for and sacrificed to the gods. Fast-forward 12,000 years and the variety of alcohol has become so numerous, people no longer need a reason to drink. However, most of the population is unaware of the chemical reaction that is occurring within their body every time they take a sip. It has always been evident that alcohol has an effect on brain function, which in-turn impairs the behavior of a person. Not only has alcohol been linked to multiple physical issues but also mental and emotional. When alcohol is consumed it can create acetaldehyde in the brain to allow a chemical reaction to take place with other elements already in the brain waiting to be activated. When acetaldehyde reacts with chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine then there is a strong chance that psychoactive alkaloids such as salsolinol will be produced (Sullivan et. al 2010). Acetaldehyde is present everywhere in the atmosphere and may be produced in the body due to the breakdown of ethanol. Acute (short-term) exposure to acetaldehyde results in disturbances such as irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Symptoms of chronic (long-term) intoxication of acetaldehyde seem to be parallel with those of alcoholism. Besides these physical effects, alcohol has been seen as playing a role in multiple sexual outcomes and processes. It not only changes a person’s sexual latency but also impairs their view on a potential mate’s physical appeal (George and Stoner 2000). Even knowing that another person has drunk can influence the way he or she is viewed. And although alcohol is commonly known to be a social lubricant, it can also severely impair judgment and cause a person to carry out an action or become interested in something they otherwise would never explore or even encounter.


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