Section One: What I Know
Alcohol: drinkable poison; so simple yet so lethal, one of the only legal substances that could potentially ruin someone’s life. “In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder, classified as either alcohol dependence—perhaps better known as alcoholism—or alcohol abuse” (“Alcohol Use Disorders”). This drug can have toxic effects on the mind and body, both of which I have seen firsthand. My dad was one of the 18 million people affected by this disease. It took him 20 years of drinking a bottle a day, going through horrible withdrawals, breaking bones, having seizures, getting kicked out of the house, getting a divorce and going to jail multiple times for him to finally get a reality check, stop drinking and start attending Alcoholics Anonymous classes. Witnessing his strange dependence on this clear drink in a trivial little bottle intrigued me; how could something so insignificant, a form of liquid matter, control a grown man and so many other people around the world? What is in alcohol that makes it so addictive?
I grew up watching my dad drink my entire life; like clockwork everyday he would come home at three o clock with his bottle of tequila and start taking shots until the bottle was empty and he was passed out. Seeing him delirious and stumbling around all the time was strange; he was supposed to be there for me but he continued to choose his bottle over me and the rest of his priorities. I learned that alcoholism is not an easy thing to overcome; I felt like he could and should just stop anytime but he never did and the cycle continued until it got worse and worse. I realized then that it was completely out of his control. Similar to other addictions in the form of eating disorders or addiction to hard drugs, my dad knew what was happening but couldn’t stop. There was always something pulling at him to drink more, even though it was slowly breaking down his body, mind and life.
Since someone so close to me has been battling this disorder for many years and is just now being forced to seek help, I thought about how I want to know more about why such an insignificant thing can take someone’s life in its hands and shatter it. The first thing I thought of when I asked myself the question “why is alcohol addictive?” is the initial effects. Someone drinking for the first few times will come out of their shell, be more adventurous, talk to new people and do new exciting things, but eventually the joy of it wears off. When my dad was drunk, he was not having fun, he was miserable and yelling then passed out and woke up hung-over and didn’t remember anything from the night before. Surprisingly though, he did the same exact thing the next day and all the days after that.
Section Two: The Search
I began my research on the University of California San Francisco website; I know they have a top-notch medical program, since my brother volunteers there, so I thought it would be a good place to...