Alcoholis a controversial beverage as it can cause dangerous side effectssuch as liver cirrhosis. In addition, it changes the behavior of somepeople for the worst. For example, some drunken people are unable toengage in creative duties such as responsible driving. Similarly, thedrug could make someone behave in an undesirable manner such as usingoffensive language or reckless behaviors like having carnal knowledgeof strangers without using protection. On the contrary, someindividuals believe alcohol is an essential drug because it resultsin pleasure and stronger friendships. Moreover, the drink is used asa medication for mental conditions like stress and sorrow. It isnoteworthy that stressed up people consume significant amounts ofliquor to forget their problems. The bottom line, alcohol abuse is adivisive subject as some people begin drinking the beverage forrecreational and medical purposes, but they gradually become addictedto the extent of seeking rehabilitation treatment services. Theresearch aims at determining the importance of the drug by observingits historical use, adverse effects and medical benefits.
Accordingto Ian Gately, there is evidence that ancient humans, dating backover 160,000 B.C already used alcohol. There is a natural form of thebeverage that is made through fermentation. The hunter-gatherers`communities accidentally discovered that frothed fruits created adrink that led to happy feeling (Gately 10). The natural brew isgenerated from the fermentation process, which originates from theprocess of yeasts feeding on sugars. The hunters and gathererstraveled great distances in search of ripened fruits so that theycould ferment them, and make the drink. For the people who could notmold pots, they hollowed wood and used it as fermentation basins(Gately 11). There is also evidence of other tribes that could weavewatertight baskets for the brewing process. Gately observes thathumans embraced the culture of alcohol preparation after they took upfarming. The earliest evidence of beer consumption dates back to 8000B.C (p. 11). Further, the author asserted that there was substantialevidence indicating that the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent alsocultivated plants that were intended for manufacturing liquor (Gately12).The primary uses of the brew in ancient communities were bothhedonistic and ceremonial. For instance, the Mayans considered itnecessary when communicating with the spiritual world. Besides, itwas a compulsory drink in some of the cultural events. By 1000 B.C,alcohol was a favorite beverage where humans had settled permanentlyafter taking on agriculture. Gately adds, “The parallel evolutionof drinking in such disparate cultures as Pharaonic Egypt andNeolithic Scotland implies that our predecessors in all these placesmade a special place for alcohol in their cultures, whether as food,as an intoxicant, as a medicine, or as a status symbol” (p. 19). Itis noteworthy that liquor has been a legal drug throughout the humanhistory. However, various cultures and nations have appliedrestrictions at different times to control it due to health reasonsand religious beliefs. For example, The Volstead Act criminalized theconsumption of alcohol between 1920 and 1933 in the United States.The main supporters of the campaign included the residents of thesmall towns, the church folk, nativists, and the majority of themiddle class citizens (Funderburg 3).
Accordingto the Brewers of Europe, moderate consumption of alcohol offers amyriad of benefits to the users. One of the medical advantages isdecreasing vulnerability of patients to dangerous conditions such ascardiovascular illness, which is the leading cause of lifestyledeaths in Europe. Moreover, it reduces the susceptibility of theusers from both osteoporosis and diabetes. The consumers also claimthat it is the only source of food that provides users with the hopeof life as it suppresses psychological conditions such as depression(The Brewers of Europe 7). Secondly, scientists have found that beerconsumption results in blood thinning. The effect is essential as itaverts the formation of clots. Thirdly, it foils insulin resistance,thereby, decreasing the chance of one suffering from diabetesmellitus. It is also noteworthy that alcohol increases the amount ofHDL cholesterol, which is beneficial to the body hence, reduces thechances of one suffering from coronary heart disease (The Brewers ofEurope 16).
Nevertheless,liquor is equally dangerous to human health, especially when taken inexcessive amount. Extended consumption of the drink on a regularbasis leads to addiction over time. In 2007, The National Survey onDrug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 28.2% of youths aged above12 years consumed alcohol. However, only 18.8% of the individuals arebinge drinkers (Essau 63). Fermentation of alcohol does not requirethe addition of other dangerous chemicals. Besides, the procedure issafe because it does not result in the production of toxic products.As such, the people who are involved in the manufacture of thebeverage are not exposed to any dangerous side effects such asradiation (Essau 65). For many years, alcohol has been attributedwith making people violent. Funderburg cites a publication in aTennessee newspaper, which claimed that the African Americans in theregion adopted weird behaviors when drunk such as cannibalism,violence, and rampant raping. The editorial further noted that theBlack people were industrious and peaceful when sober, but alcoholmade them engage in vandalism, as well as disruption of the serenityof their immediate neighborhoods (Funderburg 4).
Presently,alcohol has limited restrictions that I find essential. For example,it is illegal to drive under the influence, report to work when drunkor to sell the commodity to minors. Nonetheless, adults who wants totake the beverage for recreational purposes when they not driving oroff duty can consume it freely. Moreover, drivers are allowed to takesmall quantities of the beverage that would not prevent their mindfrom reasoning well. In that case, blood alcohol concentration (BAC)of about 0.02 ensures that an individual can drive excellently, butat the same time can enjoy the health benefits of the beverage.Similarly, the restraint of advertising and selling the drinks to theyouths ensures that the young people refrain from the substance abusein early stages. Since alcohol is expensive, children may engage incriminal activities to acquire funds for purchasing the commodity.Similarly, heavy drinking may result in either brain damage orrestricted development of intellect. Considering that alcoholaddiction is a gradual process, occasional drinking of limitedamounts of alcohol goes a long way to prevent people from developingsubstance dependency.
Accordingto the Brewers of Europe, alcohol is a depressant. As a result, itslows down some functions of the central nervous system throughinhibition of some chemicals that take messages to the brain.However, it does enhance the secretion of dopamine in the brain.Dopamine is the hormone that induces happiness. This explains thereason depressed people take the brew to overcome stress (Brewers ofEurope 16). On the other hand, it stimulates the production of theGABA neurotransmitter, which makes the body movements, speech, andthoughts to slow down tremendously. When one takes large quantitiesof alcohol, the inhibition increases, thereby, leading to clumsybehaviors such as falling over chairs and staggering. Drivers canalso cause accidents because their vision and reasoning capacity arecompromised when intoxicated (Essau 70).
Extendeduse of liquor leads to dependency. The addiction effect is so high tothe extent that it needs detoxification. The treatment approachdepends on the dependency level of a patient. For the extremeaddicts, therapists may need to use a substitute drug such asmethadone to assist an individual to quit drinking withoutexperiencing adverse effects. On the other hand, some people may needdetoxification of blood, which reduces the alcohol concentration inthe blood (Essau 76).
Essau,Cecilia. AdolescentAddiction: Epidemiology, Assessment and Treatment.Amsterdam: Academic, 2008. Internet resource.
Funderburg,J A. Bootleggersand Beer Barons of the Prohibition Era.Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.2014. Print.
Gately,Iain. Drink:A Cultural History of Alcohol.New York: Gotham, 2009. Print.
TheBrewers of Europe. TheEffects of Moderate Beer Consumption: A digest of the CurrentScientific Literature.4thedition. DBBreweriesLimited, 2008. Web. Retrieved from <https://www.db.co.nz/DBBreweries/files/79/7977e1e8-b9f3-4701-84a7-715c2de96567.pdf>
GlobalConsumption of Alcohol