Alcoholism as a Disease
Unfortunately, alcohol brings on the risk of many diseases. "Recent evidence indicates that a wide variety of diseased conditions are brought about by a substance that coats the body's red cells, causing them to adhere to one another in clumps. These clumps, sometimes called 'sludge,' can be created by the ingestion of alcohol"(Burgess,p.130). Alcohol has a disastrous affect on all of the body's organs, the main one being the brain. "At death, the brain of the dependent drinker or alcoholic invariably will reveal enormous numbers of small areas of atrophy in which brain cells have been destroyed"(Burgess,p.131). The brain begins to shrink when under the influence of alcohol. This means that the space that a brain cell took up is now gone because the cell has been destroyed. "In extreme cases most of what is left [of the brain] may be nothing but connective and structural tissue. The neurons themselves, the cells that do the work of the brain, have been destroyed"(Burgess,p.132). If drinkers, casual or heavy, knew more about alcohol and the effects this drug has on the brain, the number of drinkers would probably drop to a very low amount of people. Unfortunately, this type of material is not made available to many people unless people got suddenly interested to look up the effects alcohol has on the body.
There is another type of disease people do not know about called the D.T.'s. This disease is that of body convulsions. This disease is commonly mistaken as being epilepsy, but it is caused by alcohol. It is caused by people trying to quit drinking. The body is suddenly taken off a sedative and is having withdrawals. The withdrawals are convulsions which also kills brain cells.
"Dependent drinkers and alcoholics run eight times the normal chance of being afflicted with cirrhosis of the liver. Many medical authorities. . .declare [that] alcoholics are highly vulnerable to ulcers, chronic pancreatitis, gastritis, and complications affecting their blood and bone marrow. Heart disease. . .may also be more common among alcoholics"(Burgess,p.138). Alcoholics have a lower resistance to a number of different infections. An alcoholics life span, therefore, will be much shorter than that of a nondrinker.
A person can spot an alcoholic by the way he or she acts. The alcoholic may use polydrugs and may have had several experiences with hospitals and emergency rooms for alcohol related illnesses. These illnesses can be anything from a comas to hallucinosis. Some other diseases are hepatic disease, peripheral neuropathy, nutritional deficiencies, internal bleeding, and alcohol psychoses. These alcoholic may suffer "acute withdrawal reactions, rationalization, resentments, sexual impotency, loss of efficiency at work, geographic moves, changes in friends and family, changes in drinking places, emotional and physical violence, traffic accidents, and feelings of guilt about drinking"(Denzin,p.19). Vital...