Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

The two craters at the top of this scanned image show areas of the brain where the blood vessels have shut down or closed up, resulting in dead spots where cells have died off, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, due to alcohol abuse.
The two craters at the top of this scanned image show areas of the brain where the blood vessels have shut down or closed up, resulting in dead spots where cells have died off, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, due to alcohol abuse. | Source
Image from a SPECT scan of a healthy normal brain, approached as if through the upper mouth. SPECT scanning shows brain activity by detecting blood flow. The large smooth surface show a good blood supply to the brain.
Image from a SPECT scan of a healthy normal brain, approached as if through the upper mouth. SPECT scanning shows brain activity by detecting blood flow. The large smooth surface show a good blood supply to the brain. | Source

Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Facts on alcohol abuse

Alcohol

Alcohol has been both our friend and our worst enemy since humankind first discovered fermentation in rotting fruits, and the ancient Sumerians brew their first batch of Hooch around 4000 BC.

Alcohol is a drug classed as a depressant, but it can also have a stimulant effect. Alcohol can influence the ability to think rationally, perceptions, the ability to react quickly in any given circumstances. It slows down vital function resulting in slurred speech and unsteady movement.

When we drink in excess, on a single occasion or over a period; alcohol interferes with the ways in which the body works. Alcohol abuse can have a damaging effect on many of the organs of the body.

In 2011 in the UK, 167,764 prescription items were dispensed for drugs for the treatment of alcohol dependency, the prescriptions were from primary care and NHS hospital or dispensed in the community, recent research shows an increase in people seeking help to give up alcohol.

However; government statistics shows, in 2011/2012 an estimated 1,220,300 admissions to hospital, related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for admission or a secondary diagnosis due to alcohol abuse.

The NHS estimates that around 9% of men and 4% of women show signs of alcohol abuse. 1 in 4 children is growing up in homes where alcohol is abused. Alcohol dependency can increase the risk of developing hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and liver disease. An estimated 7 out of 10 people with alcoholic liver disease, have a problem with alcohol abuse, official figures show an extra 1000 patient are treated each year for alcohol-related liver damage in the UK, the majority of whom would not normally be regarded as alcoholics.

Individuals who abuse alcohol can develop anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings. This is because regular heavy drinking can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain that are required for good mental health.

Alcohol can ruin lives, and it can take lives; we were sadly reminded of that fact a few days ago, as we read about the 31-year-old actor Cory Monteith from the popular TV show Glee who died of an overdose of drug and alcohol. The young actor relapsed after completing his second visit to rehab. Friends and loved ones watched helplessly, unable to prevent what they feared the most.

In the U K, 46 years old ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne (Gazza), recently hit the news yet again when he spectacularly relapsed into an alcoholic binge. A Twitter user who witnessed Gascoigne's fall from the wagon wrote; “Just seen one of the saddest sights, a drunk Gazza, @piersmorgan if you can reach out to him or his friends, please do, he still needs help.”

Gascoigne's family and friends are desperately trying to find a way to help the troubled former footballer to give up the alcohol for good. But is it possible to help someone who apparently doesn't seem to want to stop his abuse of alcohol?

A few months ago, Gascoigne flew to America to receive treatment for his addiction to alcohol; the trip was paid for by a group of his Celeb friends. Gazza's friends knew the odds were against the footballer but felt it was worth trying. Gazza was reported to have had a bad reaction to the detox treatment and was admitted to hospital for observations. However, he was soon seen having a drink in a bar in the U S.

In a BBC TV interview, Gazza was asked about parallels between himself and George Best, another talented footballer who also struggled unsuccessfully to control his addiction to alcohol, but sadly died from years of alcohol abuse at the age of 59, in 2005. Gazza responded by saying that he did not believe George Best wanted to stop drinking, about himself, Gazza said, he had tried so hard to stop, he went on to say, “ I didn't ask to be an alcoholic, but I must admit I worked on it. I went to any lengths to get my drink; I'll go even further to stay sober.”

Unfortunately, Gazza's struggle with the demon drink continues. So, are some people who abuse alcohol beyond help?

One of the main issues facing researchers looking into alcohol dependency is how to reduce the high rate of relapse among drinkers who are undergoing treatment.

A study supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has found distinct patterns of brain activity linked to greater rates of relapse among alcohol dependent patients in early recovery. This research may help to identify which individuals undergoing recovery treatment from alcoholism, are most likely to relapse and return to drinking and which ones are less likely to do so.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, did studies on rats and found that disrupting memories linked to past drinking may reduce alcohol relapse, this is done by blocking a pathway in the brain linked to memories and learning.

The researchers exposed rats to a choice of water or a mixture of water and 20% alcohol for a seven week period. The rats were trained to press a lever to receive alcohol and developed a strong preference for the alcohol over a period of time. The alcohol was removed from the rats, and after ten days they were given a small drop of alcohol to awaken their memories of the alcohol.

Some of the rats received the drug rapamycin, which inhibit Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). The rats receiving the drugs were found to be less likely to press the alcohol lever over a two week period.

One of the main reason alcoholics who are undergoing treatment relapse is believed to be due to cravings triggered by the memory by certain cues such as, the smell or taste of alcohol, or entering a drinking establishment.

Effects of Alcohol on The Brain

Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, affecting the way the brain look and works.

Brain damages caused by alcohol varies from one person to another, consuming large amounts of alcohol can shut down blood vessels to reduce perfusion or blood supply to the brain, causing the death of brain cells.

The death of cells occurs particularly in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that carries out what is referred to in psychological term as “executive functions,” and include:

  • Focusing attention

  • Problem solving

  • foreseeing and weighing up the possible consequences of behaviour

  • Forming strategies and planning

  • Considering the future and making predictions

  • Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals

  • Adjusting behaviour when situation change

  • Impulse control

  • Modulation of intense emotions

  • Inhibiting inappropriate behaviour and initiating appropriate behaviour

  • Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex, challenging information

Dr Daniel G. Amen, MD, Clinical Neuroscientist and Brain Imaging Specialist, has been using SPECT scanning technology to assess brain activity in people with psychological problems and found that the most common similarity among drug and alcohol abusers is that the brain has an overall toxic look to it. The scans in this study look less active, more shrivelled and overall, less healthy.

Studies show that heavy alcohol abuse can impair the critical mechanism for recovering from trauma, and may cause an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Personally; I believe at this time, when many young soldiers who are not known for their teetotal lifestyle, are taking their own lives after leaving the forces, this type of research can be very far reaching in so many ways.


Alcohol Abuse in the US

Source

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Long-term effects of alcohol

  • Disrupts normal brain development

  • Liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver

  • brain cells die, reducing brain mass

  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers

  • Hypertension, heart disease, and stroke

  • Reduced sperm count in men

  • Anemia from lower levels of iron and vitamin B

  • Alcoholism

  • Death

  • Fetal alcohol syndrome in the unborn child

Symptoms of alcohol abuse

It is not always obvious when an individual's drinking habit has crossed over from social to problem drinking. Alcoholism is a progressive disease in which the effects of alcohol drinking becomes more severe over time.

Someone who needs alcohol to cope or to avoid feeling bad is potentially in danger. Early signs of a problem can progress to show symptoms of alcohol abuse; if drinking alcohol continues, symptoms of dependency or alcoholism will be seen. The process happens gradually, so it's important to recognize the warning signs that include:

Early Signs of Alcohol Abuse

  • Frequent intoxication

  • An established pattern of heavy drinking

  • Drinking in dangerous situation such as driving

  • Black-out drinking

  • Drastic change in demeanor while drinking (becoming angry and violent)

Short Term Effects of Alcohol

in Low Doses

  • Relaxing effect

  • Reduce tension

  • Lower inhibitions

  • Poor concentration

  • Slow reflexes

  • Reduce coordination

  • Slow brain activity

  • Sensations and perceptions are less clear

In Medium Doses

  • Slurred speech

  • Sleepiness

  • Disruption of sleeping pattern

  • Altered emotions

  • Poor vision

  • Increased production of urine

  • Increased blood flows to skin surface

  • Lower core body temperature

In high doses

  • Vomiting

  • Uncontrolled bladder

  • Uncontrolled bowel

  • Problem breathing

  • Black-out

  • Alcohol poisoning

  • Coma

  • Possible death


Why Do You Drink Alcohol

Are you concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume ? Do you:

See results without voting

Conclusion

Alcohol is a drug that can affect your mood, it can damage the body's organs and have an adverse impact on health especially in the long term.

There are many reasons why we drink alcohol, it makes us feel good, less inhibited, we use it to celebrate and to commiserate, it helps us unwind after a tough day at the office. Psychologist tells us that we drink to escape the self.

However; regardless of the reasons why we drink, Alcohol always takes away much more than it gives, when taken in excess, it can cause devastation not only to the drinker but also to family and friends, alcohol ruin lives, it can kill.

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39 comments

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Eddy, we do need to be aware of the damage alcohol can do, especially at this time of the year. Many young people are binge drinking, they fail to realize the harm they are doing to themselves. A large per cent of the patients admitted to the critical care unit where I work have some degree of alcohol related condition, it is a massive problem. Thank you for taking a look at this, always a pleasure to see you. Happy New Year to you and yours, may your troubles be less, and your blessings be more. :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A brilliant hub here tobu and one everyone who drinks excessively should read and take heed of.

I shared a status on FB yesterday about the drinking culture that we are in her in Wales and of course worldwide. Thank you for sharing this sobering hub and am voting up, across and sharing .Have a great day and a Happy New Year to you my friend.

Eddy.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Jamie, lovely to see you! You are so right about the effects of alcohol, alcohol is an insidious poison, and nobody's friend. You are one of the lucky ones, and you have a beautiful family to remind you of what is important.

Take care and my best to you all.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

Jo this is a very important hub, not only is Alcohol dangerous to the body and the mind it is easy to get hooked and hard to quit. It took me almost twenty one years to realize the effects of my alchoholism on my body and my brain. I don't drink at all now and I still have memory issues and sometimes lapse into confusion. I have been clean and sober now for almost eight years. Thank you. Jamie


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Steve, thank you for stopping by and for reading this, much appreciated. my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hello Indian cooking, I appreciate the thumbs up, the vote and the share. Thank you for taking the time, my best to you.


indian cooking profile image

indian cooking 3 years ago from Mumbai

Thumbs up on this educational hub. Voted up and sharing.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Devika, lovely to see you!...binge drinking has become a very serious problem among the youngsters in the last few years, this could have so many health implications for the future. Thank you for the visit and comment, my best to you.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

It is scary to read of how alcohol can affect men and women, and so many binge drinking control is required, excessive drinking damages individuals after a while such important points made here. A great way for one to learn more about the downside of alcohol. The photos tell it all. Voted up and interesting, and useful.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Eddy, how very nice to see you back!..great news about the new venture, keep us posted.

Erin's Box of Secrets looks like a winner....go girl...I know where to come for something special, I wish you the best of luck.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A very well written hub and voted up.

Eddy.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Doc, so very nice to see you!....The same goes for where I work, the problem is huge right now, I really don't know what the answer is, maybe it's time to bring the schools into the critical care and liver units to see the end results of alcohol abuse, it may act as a deterrent for the future. Thank you for reading this it means a lot. Take care and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Marissacreange, the important thing is that you found the strength to change and break the habit, many are not that fortunate. Looking at your profile; I'd say you are a remarkable woman with so much life to live. Giving up the alcohol could only be good. I hope you will be able to remain in good health and avoid the side effects of long term alcohol abuse, and pray that you will be around for a very long time to see the little one grow up healthy and happy. Thank you so much for this personal and insightful comment it shows those who are currently struggling with this problem that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Take care of your self and my very best to you.

Jo.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK

Utterly compelling. and much needed too. I too see so many of these presentations in my line of duty- sometimes it is too late, sometimes there is just enough chance to change this and rediscover a new life. Alcohol abuse and its prevention/treatment is one of our key organisational objectives where I work.... Really comprehensive hub and very well written.


marissacreange profile image

marissacreange 3 years ago from Allentown, Pennsylvania

Good hub, very informative. I suffered for quite a few years with a massive drinking problem. On average, I consumed a bottle of hard liquor a day. I hid my problem well. I was a perfectly functioning alcoholic, the absolute scariest kind in my opinion. I paid my bills, did my job(well), supported myself. I was a fantastic bartender, which was part of my problem, being that I knew all the signs of drunkenness, I masked my own incredibly well. I finally cleaned up when I got pregnant, I no longer had the taste for it even before taking the test. I'm convinced my pregnancy, and my daughter saved my life. As for the damage I've already done? Only time will tell. I can only hope that no long term side affects appear. Thank you for your great hub, thoroughly enjoyed reading. Voted up!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Nell, thank you so much for checking this out. I'm so sorry to learn about you friend, it is a sad thing to see some one you love in so much pain and know there is nothing you can do to help.

Take care and my best to you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi, this was a fascinating read and a sad one for me too, I lost my best friend to alcohol so it's a sobering thought on what it can do to the body, voted up and shared, nell


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Meg, I wrote a reply to your comment yesterday from my ipad, but could not find it here, sometime the ipad plays up. Anyway, thanks for the great comment and visit, about the poll; I to thought it was odd, very revealing!...like you, I guess I'm a bit of a cynic. Have a lovely Sunday and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Rose, thank you for taking a look...a bit of a wake-up call for many of us, we have to remember that alcohol is a drug that can poison the body, not something we should become to friendly with. My best to you as always, hope all is well.


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

WOW................what an excellent and "sobering" article, Jo! It is unbelievable what alcohol can do to the brain and the rest of your body. You have put out some amazing information. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Pamela, you said it just right, Alcoholism is a heart breaking disease. I hope the next generation will be more sensible but I have doubts. Thank you so much for taking a look, much appreciated, my best to you as always.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi FlourishAnyway, So nice to see you!..yes, the statistics are very sobering, (pun intended) the good news is that more people are giving up alcohol and are seeking help, but in many cases the damage is done. The health care services are stretched to the limit, but it's good that the message is getting through. Thank you for stopping by and for the great comment, always appreciated, my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Anna, you are right, alcohol can wreck so many lives, it must be soul destroying to watch helplessly while your loved ones slowly kill themselves. Most of us enjoy the odd drink, but we must also be aware of the warning signs. Many thanks for the visit and comment, much appreciated. Take care and my best to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Lurana, lovely to see you!...I really appreciate you taking a look at this. I hope all is well with you, my best as always.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

This is a very informative hub and the statistics are worse than I thought they would be. Alcoholism is a heart breaking disease. Very useful hub. Up and shared!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Some of the statistics are truly startling. Aside from drinking with friends in my senior year of college, I've never had much of an interest in alcohol, but I have witnessed the devastating impact that substance abuse can create. Informative hub!


Meg Moon profile image

Meg Moon 3 years ago from United Kingdom

Interesting that 71% of your poll say never touch the stuff- surely that is not representative of the general population- maybe the people reading this have experience of alcoholism in some way and that is why they don't drink


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

A very informative and useful article.

As you mentioned the problems created by alcohol in our society reach far beyond the actual drinker who needs help.

Excellent hub.

Anna


MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Important topic and you presented it from different angles. Your layout and organization made it easy to read and interesting...great job! ~Lurana


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Kashmir, thank you for stopping by, for the read, share and the wonderful comment, always appreciated. If this information is able to shock at least one youngster into saying no to alcohol it would have been well worth the effort.

Hope you're having a wonderful day my friend, my best to you as always.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Awesomely written and so well researched, great eye opener for any teen going down this path.

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Bill, you are one of the good examples that proves giving up alcohol can work. Many are not as fortunate, and the relapse rate is very high, for those drinkers, and their families the agony goes on. Thank you for stopping by, as always a pleasure to see you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Frank, I've hoped that the younger generation will learn from the experiences and mistakes of the older generation, but I guess people must make their own mistakes. Thank you for checking this out, and for the great comment. My very best as always.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Been there, done that and wrote the book. :) Jo, all I have to say about this disease is that I survived and today I am happy....I am not one of the casualties and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Important information my friend. Hopefully, those who need to read this will.

blessings my friend

bill


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

I think this hub will shock young teens straight.. nothing but researched facts here tobusiness a useful hub my friend very useful :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Faith, lovely to see you!...I hope you're doing well. Many thanks for stopping by and for this comment and share, always appreciated. Yes alcohol destroys life, I just hope the researchers can find a way to help prevent those people undergoing treatment from relapsing. Take care and my best as always.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Vicki, thanks for taking a look at this and for the insightful comment....even as I clicked the publish now button, there is more concerns on the news about the amount of women who are displaying signs of alcohol abuse in the UK. The message is getting through, but slowly.

Take care now and my very best to you.


Vickiw 3 years ago

I second what Faith has just written. Very interesting topic, and, for all sorts of reasons, alcohol can be very damaging to bodies and families.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Really great hub here to bring awareness as to alcohol's total effects on the mind and body. Excellent write and well-researched as to the disturbing damage it does to one's health and life and affects all aspects of one's life.

Voted up +++ and sharing!

Hugs and blessings, Faith Reaper

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