Alcohol Abuse Term Paper

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¶ … drowned more men than the sea..." (Thomas Fuller)

The abuse of alcohol is not a new problem in America, but it is a substantial problem, among people of all ages and from all walks of life. This paper will review some of the problems associated with the abuse of alcohol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "Excessive alcohol consumption" is the third leading cause of "preventable death" in the United States. Over a typical thirty-day period in the U.S., the CDC reports that ("over half" of the American adult population drinks some alcohol; about 5% of the total population "drinks heavily"; and about 15% of the U.S. population engages in "binge drinking."

The CDC also reports that "excessive drinking" isn't necessarily always connected with many drinks per person; in fact, since some people are very sensitive to the effects of alcohol on the body, excessive drinking can be as little at "two drinks per day on average for men" or more than one drink per day for women. And "binge drinking" is technically the consumption of more than four drinks "during a single occasion" for men and more than three drinks "during a single occasion" for women. When the CDC refers to a "single occasion" it doesn't necessarily refer to "chugging" those drinks, but rather the person would typically drink them in fairly rapid succession, one after another, rather than a moderate intake over many hours.

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Meanwhile the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (associated with the CDC) reports that "Excessive alcohol consumption" can be linked to about 75,000 deaths every year in the U.S. - and alcohol is "a factor" in about 41% of all deaths from automobile accidents. Long-term abuse of alcohol may result in cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease as well as neurological damage, the CDC explains. And there are also psychological / psychiatric issues related to the abuse of alcohol, including depression, anxiety, and "antisocial personality disorder."

Term Paper on Alcohol Abuse Assignment

When the issue of young people and alcohol is put under the microscope, some statistics come up that are disturbing to adults - parents as well as professionals in education, healthcare, and government services. For example, in 2005, statistics show that about 26% of high school students reported "episodic or heavy binge drinking," the CDC reports. Also in 2005, surveys of high school students indicate that 29% of students had reported riding in an automobile within thirty days of the survey "driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol."

According to an article in the Journal of Marriage and Family, about 12% of children begin a drinking habit at twelve years of age that lasts a lifetime - and of those twelve-year-old youths who began their drinking habits at that age, 91% of them are drinking regularly by age 21. The early start to drinking habits can lead to a variety of "developmental outcomes" according to the article (Walls, et al., 2007), including lower academic achievement than their peers, "delinquent and antisocial behavior," later use of illegal drugs and, eventually, alcoholism. In addition, those who began consuming alcohol at the age of 12 or near that age may experience adulthood problems - such as getting a good job and keeping it, and also "criminal and violent behavior."

Early abuse of alcohol may also play a role in three of the five leading causes of death for youths aged 10 to 14: automobile accidents; suicide; and homicide. The authors of this article, having concluded what empirical evidence shows regarding the problems associated with young people who begin a drinking habit at around 12 years, offer facts concerning Native American young people, who show "higher rates of drinking and drug use than most other racial or ethnic groups" (Walls 2007). Indeed, the rate of deaths from alcoholism among young Native Americans is estimated at 3.4 deaths per 100,000 people; that is quite high when compared with the overall rate for all American youths - 0.3 per 100,000.

When young Native Americans get into the habit of consuming alcohol on the reservation, they are "more likely" than Native American youth living in non-reservation homes to experience the following social and legal problems, the authors assert: traffic tickets; getting arrested; issues with money; problems in school; fighting; and "property damage resulting from alcohol use." The well being of Native Americans who got involved with alcohol at a young age is also in jeopardy; they may suffer damage to their physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well being, according to the article.

Young people who are depressed are more likely to begin drinking and to abuse alcohol, according to research in the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). This is significant because a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 9.4% of people aged 18 to 25 (that is approximately 3 million young adults in the U.S.) experienced "one or more major depressive episodes in the past year."

What is a "major depressive episode"? The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) defines a major depressive episode as a "...period of two weeks or longer during which there is depressed mood or loss of interest in pleasure." There are four other symptoms that are related to or connected with major depressive episodes; they are sleep problems, eating disorders, lack of physical energy and a bad self-image.

In another article ("Study Ties Alcohol Abuse, Increased Work-Related Injuries Among Construction Laborers Who are 25 to 35 Years Old") the writer (Pollack, 1998) explains that men involved in physical labor jobs - who have been treated for "substance abuse" such as alcohol abuse - have nearly "double the risk" of sustaining a serious injury while at work, compared with non-abusers. The statistics tell the story: for laborers ages 25 to 34 years who have been treated for substance abuse, their injury rate in terms of time having been lost is "23.6 per 100 full-time-equivalent workers," compared with a rate of "12.2 for non-substance abusers of the same age."

The study was conducted among7,895 laborers; of those, 422 had been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem (alcohol abuse was identified in 85% of the cases of "substance abuse"). The study was done by the Center for Construction Research and Training for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, and it covered only time loss for "serious injuries," which are referred to at "time-loss injuries." In other words, when substance abuse (a majority of the time "alcohol abuse") was involved in the equation, more than 23 workers per 100,000 workers had lost substantial time on the job due to injuries; but when substance abuse / alcohol abuse was not part of the workers' history, only 12.2 laborers per 100,000 in Washington State lost time on the job due to injuries.

According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, there are many effective treatments available for the abusers of alcohol, but the number of citizens with these problems "who are actually undergoing treatment" has remained "stubbornly low." The Harvard information was gleaned from research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which came from a survey of more than 43,000 respondents.

From that data, it is clear that problems with abuse of alcohol "remain common"; indeed, 12.5% of those responding to the survey reported that they were dependent on alcohol, and nearly 18% said they abused alcohol regularly (probably meaning they get drunk daily). Yet only 24% of those who said they were dependent on alcohol said they had sought treatment for their disease / problem, and just 7% who admitted they abused alcohol regularly actually sought help, according to the data. The problem is not that there is a shortage of health insurance to cover the abusers, the researchers explain. The problem probably is based on "a combination of continuing stigmatization" of the disorder of alcohol abuse, and a "lack of public knowledge about effective treatments."

Some men who abuse alcohol also batter their spouses or girlfriends, according to an article in the journal Family Relations (Hutchison 1999). The great majority of research that has been done on abusers who are violent against their spouses has focused on "prevalence, severity, and injury," Hutchison writes; but not much attention has been paid to the impact that such abuse and related violence has on children. Some researchers who have studied the affect on children of watching their mother beaten by a drunken father or significant other report that very young children (infants) may exhibit "hyper vigilance, regression or clinging behavior"; and children three to five years of age may show "withdrawal and attachment problems."

Meantime, for children of school age, they may suffer from "developmental regression" and they also may experience "distorted moral development." For adolescents, they may be more likely to experience post-traumatic stress, which may play out as "antisocial behavior, sexual acting out, and substance abuse," according to the article.

There are researchers who have found that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Alcohol Abuse" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Alcohol Abuse.  (2007, November 24).  Retrieved February 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Alcohol Abuse."  24 November 2007.  Web.  24 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Alcohol Abuse."  November 24, 2007.  Accessed February 24, 2020.