Drinking and Alcoholism

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Alcoholism refers to the abuse of alcohol by individuals who are unable to control their binge drinking behavior over a prolonged period of time. Alcoholics are not simply people who consume alcohol; instead, their entire lives revolve around alcohol. While many people usually dismiss the effects of heavy drinking to a hangover that will not last beyond the day, the effects of alcoholism are infinitely more enduring and devastating not only for the alcoholics, but also for their families and friends.

Excessive consumption of alcohol can exert a severe impact on the brain, both on the short-term and long-term basis. The reason why alcoholics exhibit aggressive behavior can be attributed to the effects of alcohol on various parts of the brain. First, alcohol can affect the gamma-aminobutyoric acid receptor (GABA-A) complex in the brain that inhibits aggressive behavior by creating anxiety over socially inappropriate behavior. Second, the effect of alcohol on the dopaminergic system that controls the psychomotor stimulation can lead to an increase in the intensity and level of aggression. The lower blood sugar in the brain can also contribute to a heightened level of aggression (Graham, Wells, & West, 1997, p. 626).

Consequently, alcoholics tend to overreact to unpleasant situations by using aggression. Furthermore, with excessive alcohol consumption, alcoholics lose their capacity to exercise self-control over their emotions and feelings. Very often, alcohol consumption becomes a means for them to unleash pent-up negative feelings. For other alcoholics, alcohol is a way for them to bury their negative feelings of anger, guilt and depression. Therefore, their general state of mind is moody and hostile, leading to increased chances of aggressive behavior at the slightest provocation (Graham, Wells, & West, 1997, p. 627).

Alcohol also has debilitating effects on the individuals’ ability to function effectively in a cognitive way. Alcoholics who are drunk are not cognizant of subtle social cues. They may behave in a socially improper way without even being aware of their actions. On the other hand, because they are only conscious of obvious externalized social cues, they are likely to be ultra- sensitive in their reactions to the situation. Deprived of their ability to think clearly and deeply, alcoholics, under the influence of alcohol, do not realize that they can behave in an alternative way. What is even more dangerous is that drunken people can develop a sense of grandiosity and believe that they are more powerful than they actually are.
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