Alcohol, or an alcoholic beverage, is a beverage that contains ethanol. These beverages are classified into three groups: beers, wines and spirits. While alcoholic beverages are usually part of social events in many cultures, the neurological effect of alcohol causes governments to regulate the production, sale and consumption of these beverages. For most countries, a minimum age for purchase and consumption is specified, due to the fact that alcohol, as a psychoactive substance, is known for its depressant effect.
The presence of this substance in the body, as quantified by the blood alcohol content, is measured to determine legal drunkenness, particularly in drivers. It is also known that ingestion of alcohol causes impaired judgment, reduced attention levels and slower reaction speeds. Too much of these beverages can cause intoxication, and in some cases, the habitual and excessive consumption of alcohol causes a state of addiction or substance abuse known as alcoholism. Alcoholics, like most people afflicted with other forms of substance abuse, sustain their habits despite its negative effects on their health, careers and relationships. The cause of alcoholism is unknown; rather, it is believed that it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Alcohol intoxication is indicated by symptoms such as general inebriation, the scent of alcohol on the breath, glazed or bloodshot eyes, or deterioration in the appearance or hygiene. Intoxicated people also become more irritable and argumentative. In relation, those who are guilty of alcoholic substance abuse often continue their drinking, even to the detriment of their major responsibilities. Alcoholics are unable to control their impulse to drink, and the alcohol causes them to make excuses for their lapses, such as missing work or school, or behavior that destroys their relationships with others.
Alcoholics often need alcohol to get through the day, but feel guilty about their drinking and lie to others to hide their drinking habits. When asked about their drinking, they often become hostile, defensive and unwilling to admit having a problem with alcoholic substance abuse. In some cases, the consumption of too much alcohol causes insomnia, and the negative effects on the body can become apparent in the manifestation of cirrhosis or the failure of the liver. This effect of the excessive consumption of alcohol causes the incapability to process hormones and toxins.
As with other forms of substance abuse, a key factor in the recovery from alcoholism is the willingness of the alcoholic to admit to having a problem. The presence of a strong support system is also crucial when recovering from any form of substance abuse. Because complications from withdrawal can be life-threatening, it is advised that the withdrawal from alcohol be performed in a controlled setting. Some alcoholics may opt to be treated at special, in-patient recovery centers, while others participate in outpatient programs while living in their own homes.
As a form of long-term support, alcoholics are also advised to seek counseling or therapy, to join group support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. This program offers emotional support and uses the 12-step approach to help recovering alcoholics. Counseling can help identify specific ways to control the urge to drink. In some cases, medication is prescribed. Acamprosate is proven to lower relapse rates for alcoholics, while Disulfiram produces unpleasant side effects when alcohol is ingested within 2 weeks after taking the drug and the injectible drug, Naltrexone, decreases cravings for alcoholic beverages. These medications are not prescribed for all alcoholics. They are often taken under the supervision of a doctor, in conjunction with participation in counseling and support groups.
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