.. havior. Experiments have shown those males exhibit higher levels of aggression than do females. The aggressive behavior starts in the adolescent stages of life and may continue into adulthood. Where does the aggressiveness originate? Part of the explanation is that children who are sociable and spontaneous exhibit more aggressive behavior than those who do not. Surprisingly, common traits amongst these children are being first born, having a stable family life and a shy temperament.
More current, up to date explanation state that aggression is learned response to frustration and by observing others who exhibit the same aggressive behavior. Males also are at greater risk for developing criminal behavior. Criminal behavior has been linked to alcohol abuse. Studies have concluded that alcohol abuse precedes criminal behavior. Criminal behavior for most youths appears to peak between the ages of 15 to 17, about the same time that their usage of alcohol is on the rise.
However only a small percentage (2 to 6) of these people engage in criminal activity into adulthood. Clinicians have addressed the possibility that physical and sexual abuse may be associated with incidents of later alcohol abuse. Sixty to eighty percent of individuals in substance abuse treatment programs reported having been sexually abused. Abused women were about 10 times more likely than non-abused women were to report a history of drug abuse and more than twice as likely to report a history of alcoholism. Uncovering the memories of early childhood experiences is thought to be a contributing factor in alcohol use. The question should not be whether physical and sexual abuse causes the later use of alcohol. Many factors contribute, especially in the home, school, and peer settings of children as they grow up.
However, the consistent finding of higher levels of physical and sexual abuse among alcohol abusers should warrant further research. PHYSIOLOGICAL: Underlying all alcohol abuse and addiction are the actions that alcohol abuse exerts. A question that is important in understanding alcohol abuse is how alcohol affects the brain, and why alcohol has a potential for being abused. The two biological factors that contribute to alcohol abuse are the effects that alcohol abuse has on a person and the biological status of the individual using alcohol. The first relates to the action of alcohol has on the brain and the latter relates to the inherited characteristics that affect a person’s response to alcohol. In order for alcohol to affect a person it first must reach the brain.
This is accomplished by alcohol entering the circulatory system, then on to the brain. The amount of alcohol that enters the bloodstream affects how quickly the alcohol will penetrate to the brain. Alcohol is taken in orally; therefore the stomach, which results in a delay before the affects become apparent, absorbs it. This is exhibited if you have ever seen someone ingest alcohol while sitting down he or she seems to be okay. Yet when they stand up, they all of a sudden become dizzy and experience high levels of intoxication. Alcohol produces feelings of pleasure to the brain. There is increasing evidence that the ‘pleasure feelings’ are linked to the brain’s reward system.
In the absence of any goal-seeking behavior, stimulation to the brain’s reward system produces extreme pleasure, which is reinforced more as alcohol consumption increases. Such strong reinforcement may explain why people will forego food, instead of alcoholic drinks if presented the choice. Increasing activity in the brain reward system is related to increased reinforcement, which supports the continued use and abuse of alcohol. Tolerance of alcohol develops differently in people but one thing remains consistent. That being increased activity in the nervous system or shaking occurs on cessation after prolonged use. Tolerance is developed when following a prolonged period of use, more alcohol is required to produce a wanted or given effect.
The development of tolerance can contribute to the progression from use to abuse and addiction. As alcohol dependency develops, a person must continue to drink more alcohol to avoid the unpleasant experience of withdrawal. Sensitization, the opposite of tolerance, plays a significant role in supporting alcoholism. With prolonged use of alcohol, cells in the brain adapt to its presence such that the alcohol is required to maintain normal cell function. On withdrawal of alcohol, the cell behaves abnormally and a withdrawal syndrome ensues.
Generally, the withdrawal syndrome is characterized by a series of signs and symptoms, such as tremors. No matter the severity of the physical withdrawal syndrome, its existence can create a craving or desire for alcohol and dependence can play a very strong role in recurrent patterns of relapse and maintaining alcohol-seeking behavior. With repeated cycles of abstinence and re-use of alcohol, the time required to elicit alcohol dependence grows shorter. The quantity of alcohol rather than the frequency of use have been studied to be a powerful predictor of problematic use. The two are not the same.
A person who occasionally drinks but when they do does so in large quantities, can be greatly harming himself or herself. Conversely a person who drinks in moderation every day may not experience any problems in the short term, but may encounter health problems later on. The type of alcohol used also has an effect on later alcohol problems. By this I mean drinking beer or wine instead of ‘hard’ liquor such as rum and whiskey. BIOLOGICAL: Alcoholism is considered to derive from genetic causes. Family studies have repeatedly confirmed that the risk of alcoholism is higher among parents, siblings and children. While genetics may play an important role, there are other factors that can influence individual biological susceptibility to the effects of alcoholism.
Because alcohol abuse is linked to behavioral and environmental factors leads to the point that genetics act together along with other non-genetic factors. Some diseases are caused by the alteration of a single gene such as cystic fibrosis, but alcoholism is not on of these. Alcohol abuse is very likely to involve multiple genes that control various aspects of the biological response to alcohol. Research studies have not been able to explain what precisely is inherited that causes people to become problem drinkers although it may be possible to do so. First, one way would be to identify a ‘risk marker’ or biological trait associated with alcoholism, but to date no ‘risk markers’ have been clearly identified. Second, the genetic technique of linkage analysis can narrow the area on a chromosome where a gene may be located. It can lead to the identification of the gene, which in turn can improve the understanding of the molecular events that underlie the expression of the gene.
There have been few genetic linkage studies related to alcohol abuse. Third, an association between alcoholism and a gene that regulates the number of a type of dopamine receptors in the brain has been studied. One study revealed a relationship between the presence of the gene not only in alcoholics, but also in other disorders such as autism and Tourette’s syndrome. The presence of this particular gene, while not uniquely specific for alcoholism, may cause an alteration in the brain’s dopamine system that somehow contributes to alcohol abuse. Studies in this biological field began using selective breeding amongst animals. The results do show that alcohol tolerance, the actions of alcohol, alcohol preference and alcohol physical dependence can be affected by genetics.
One study found a high rate of alcohol abuse between identical twins over fraternal twins. Interestingly studies found that identical male twins are more frequent in cases of alcohol abuse and dependence than that of fraternal male twins. The same results were found in identical female twins as well. Adoption studies have also supported the role of inheritable factors concerning alcoholism. Researchers studied male and females that were adopted, comparing them with non-adopted siblings. Both males and females of alcoholic and non-alcoholic parents were also studied. The children of alcoholic parents is four times as likely to become alcoholic than one with non-alcoholic parents, even if the children were adopted and raised in non-alcoholic families. Furthermore being raised by a biological alcoholic parent did not increase the likelihood of developing alcoholism.
This is substantiated by several cases that I personally know of where the person experienced problems with alcohol despite being raised by parents who never drank and provided love and support towards the person. Another source of biological existence suggests that high risks candidates for alcoholism have instability in their nervous system that can be calmed by drinking alcohol. Studies proved that sons of alcoholic fathers are less able to hold their body still when asked to stand at attention, compared to sons of non-alcoholic fathers. People who come from non-alcoholic parents tend to sway more than those from alcoholic parents do. Medical studies suggest that patients who have an inherited disorder, ‘familial essential tremor’, in which their hands shake, are more likely to abuse alcohol. When they drink alcohol their tremors vanish.
SUMMARY: Alcohol abuses and alcoholism is as much as a problem today as it has ever been in the past. Alcoholism effects each individual differently. Therefore, everyone who abuses alcohol doesn’t become an alcoholic, but it is still important to understand the factors that are involved. Factors derive from biological, psychological, physiological, social and cultural fields of exploration. Alcoholism is a leach that sucks the life from an individual, families, and society.
It turns people’s lives into a world of depression and loneliness. Psychology.