Thank you for returning to find out the devastating effects that alcohol has on the brain and the body. In the case of alcohol, the neurotransmitters involved are gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamine. GABA is an inhibitor while the effects of glutamine are excitatory. Alcohol increases the effects of GABA while at the same time diminishes the effects of glutamine. The end result is a physiological inhibition of normal brain function. This results in a feeling of calmness or sluggishness. The behavioral inhibitory centers in the brain are also “calmed” or depressed making people appear more sociable, relaxed, talkative and less inhibited in their social interactions. This leads people to do and say things they later regret. These activities can have profound consequences for the individual along with those around them. Consequences such as sexual promiscuity, vulgar vocabulary and other bizarre behaviors are common. Alcohol also inhibits the thought process leading to impaired judgment. Exaggerated emotional states including rage, extreme sadness and loss of memory are a result of alcohol consumption. Individuals will begin to lose their motor skills making it difficult to walk or operate a vehicle.
The inhibition on the brain makes the person feel sleepy which can lead to them passing out. If the alcohol concentration in the brain tissue is high enough the respiratory rate can become very slow, and in fact, individuals can stop breathing. The heart can also slow dramatically, causing the blood pressure to become dangerously low which can be fatal. In my medical career I have seen many die from the direct effect of alcohol toxicity. We must also realize, although the main effect of alcohol is on the brain, it is not limited to the brain. Alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines. But, of course, the liver suffers the most structural damage since it is the primary organ in the body where alcohol is broken down. Cirrhosis is a liver disease that can be caused by alcohol consumption. Alcoholic cirrhosis can lead to liver failure which is fatal. It is also a well known fact that alcohol is a factor in more than 50% of all motor vehicle accidents. According to a 2001 study quoted on Reuter’s Health, alcohol is a factor in 25% of people who commit suicide.
This study also demonstrated that alcohol was a factor in almost 70% of all murders. Alcohol also exacerbates domestic violence. Children of alcohol addicted parents have less success at school, have more episodes of depression, have fewer friends, and have lower self esteem than their peers. Women who continue in their addiction while pregnant run the risk of giving birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Babies born with FAS have multiple anatomical and developmental abnormalities which stay with the child for a lifetime. As we have so far noted, addiction to alcohol is a major cause of disease, disability, and death in our country. One of the many reasons that alcohol is so destructive is that it is commonly associated with other drug use. Addiction to alcohol occurs commonly with addiction to narcotics. For example, up to 89% of cocaine addicts are also addicted to alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol is a difficult, dangerous, and potentially deadly process. Symptoms of withdrawal can occur just several hours from the individual’s last drink. Some withdrawal symptoms are as follows: fever, sweating, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increase or decrease in blood pressure, aggression, auditory and visual hallucinations, seizures and delirium tremens otherwise known as DTs.
I must reiterate that alcohol withdrawal can be potentially fatal. In light of this, medical attention is a necessity. Despite the above so many still believe the lie that alcohol is a necessity to their life, something they can not live without. It is estimated that in America today there are 17.6 million adults (not including children and teenagers) that share this same thought process. They feel that without alcohol their life would be filled with anxiety and bouts of depression. They believe there would be no enjoyment or pleasure apart from their “friend” named alcohol. As they embrace these lies they continue in their destructive behavior, drinking to get relief from the problems and stress of life. The alcohol becomes the consuming thought of every waking moment. This ungodly thought process is impossible to break apart from the grace of God. We must compassionately share with these individuals that the help to heal the hurt that lives deep within them is in fact found in a liquid but its not liquor, it is the Living Water. We must encourage them to freely drink of this Living Water.