Mls Sudbury – Alcoholism

12 May, 2011


Alcohol and Health

Short-term effects of alcohol

Long-term effects of alcohol

Alcohol and cardiovascular disease

Alcoholic liver disease

Alcoholic hepatitis

Alcohol and cancer

Alcohol and weight

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder


Blackout (alcohol-related amnesia)

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Recommended maximum intake

Wine and health

The definitions of alcoholism and related terminology vary significantly between the medical community, treatment programs, and the general public.

Medical definitions

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and The American Society of Addiction Medicine define alcoholism as “a primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.” The DSM-IV (the dominant diagnostic manual in psychiatry and psychology) defines alcohol abuse as repeated use despite recurrent adverse consequences. It further defines alcohol dependence as alcohol abuse combined with tolerance, withdrawal, and an uncontrollable drive to drink. (See DSM diagnosis below.) Within psychology and psychiatry, alcoholism is the popular term for alcohol dependence.


Many terms are applied to a drinker’s relationship with alcohol. Use, misuse, heavy use, abuse, addiction, and dependence are all common labels used to describe drinking habits, but the actual meaning of these words can vary greatly depending upon the context in which they are used. Even within the medical field, the definition can vary between areas of specialization. Because alcoholism is often used in a derogatory sense in politics and religion, the meanings of the words surrounding it are often used imprecisely.

Use refers to simple use of a substance. An individual who drinks any alcoholic beverage is using alcohol. Misuse, problem use, abuse, and heavy use refers to improper use of alcohol which may cause physical, social, or moral harm to the drinker.

Moderate Use is defined by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans as no more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men and no more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women.

Risk factors

About 40 percent of those who begin drinking alcohol before age 14 develop alcohol dependence, whereas only 10 percent of those who did not begin drinking until 20 years or older developed an alcohol problem in later life, although it should be born in mind that Correlation does not imply causation. Alcohol abuse during adolescence may lead to long-term changes in the brain which leaves them at increased risk of alcoholism in later years; genetic factors also influence age of onset of alcohol abuse and risk of alcoholism.

The age of onset of drinking as well as genetic factors are associated with an increased risk of the development of alcoholism. Individuals who have a pre-existing vulnerability to alcoholism are also more likely to begin drinking earlier than average. The risk taking behavior associated with adolescence promotes binge drinking. Age and genetic factors influence the risk of developing alcohol related neurotoxicity. Genetic traits which influence the risk of the development of alcoholism are associated with a family history of alcoholism. One published article has found that alcohol use at an early age may itself directly influence the risk of developing alcoholism via influencing the expression of genes which increase the risk of alcohol dependence. It has been hypothesized that this increased risk may be due to the highly sensitive developing adolescent brain which leads to modulating of the genetic state of the brain which in turn primes the adolescent for increased risk of alcohol dependence. About 40 percent of alcoholics were drinking excessively by late adolescence. Most alcoholics develop alcoholism during adolescence or young adulthood. Severe childhood trauma is also associated with an increased risk of alcohol or other drug problems. There is evidence that a complex mixture of genetic factors as well as environmental factors, e.g. stressful childhood events, influence the risk of the development of alcoholism. Genes which influence the metabolism of alcohol also influence the risk of alcoholism. Good peer and family support is associated with a reduced risk of alcoholism developing.

Signs and symptoms

Effects of long term alcohol misuse

Main article: Long-term effects of alcohol

Most significant of the possible long-term effects of ethanol. Additionally, in pregnant women, it causes fetal alcohol syndrome.

The primary effect of alcoholism is to encourage the sufferer to drink at times and in amounts that are damaging to physical health. The secondary damage caused by an inability to control one’s drinking manifests in many ways. Alcoholism also has significant social costs to both the alcoholic and their family and friends. Alcoholism can have adverse effects on mental health causing psychiatric disorders to develop. Approximately 18 percent of alcoholics commit suicide. Research has found that over fifty percent of all suicides are associated with alcohol or drug dependence. In adolescents the figure is higher with alcohol or drug misuse playing a role in up to 70 percent of suicides.

Physical health effects

The physical health effects associated with alcohol consumption may include cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, epilepsy, polyneuropathy, alcoholic dementia, heart disease, increased chance of cancer, nutritional deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and death from many sources. Severe cognitive problems are not uncommon in alcoholics. Approximately 10% of all dementia cases are alcohol related making alcohol the 2nd leading cause of dementia. Other adverse effects on physical health include an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, alcoholic liver disease, and cancer. Damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from sustained alcohol consumption.

Mental health effects

Long term misuse of alcohol can cause a wide range of mental health effects. Alcohol misuse is not only toxic to the body but also to brain function and thus psychological well being can be adversely affected by the long-term effects of misuse. Psychiatric disorders are common in alcoholics, especially anxiety and depression disorders, with as many as 25% of alcoholics presenting with severe psychiatric disturbances. Typically these psychiatric symptoms caused by alcohol misuse initially worsen during alcohol withdrawal but with abstinence these psychiatric symptoms typically gradually improve or disappear altogether. Psychosis, confusion and organic brain syndrome may be induced by chronic alcohol abuse which can lead to a misdiagnosis of major mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. Panic disorder can develop as a direct result of long term alcohol misuse. Panic disorder can also worsen or occur as part of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Chronic alcohol misuse can cause panic disorder to develop or worsen an underlying panic disorder via distortion of the neurochemical system in the brain.

The co-occurrence of major depressive disorder and alcoholism is well documented. Among those with comorbid occurrences, a distinction is commonly made between depressive episodes that are secondary to the pharmacological or toxic effects of heavy alcohol use and remit with abstinence, and depressive episodes that are primary and do not remit with abstinence. Additional use of other drugs may increase the risk of depression in alcoholics. Depressive episodes with an onset prior to heavy drinking or those that continue in the absence of heavy drinking are typically referred to as “independent” episodes, whereas those that appear to be etiologically related to heavy drinking are termed “substance-induced”. There is a high rate of suicide in chronic alcoholics with the risk of suicide increasing the longer a person drinks. The reasons believed to cause the increased risk of suicide in alcoholics include the long-term abuse of alcohol causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry as well as the social isolation which is common in alcoholics. Suicide is also very common in adolescent alcohol abusers, with 1 in 4 suicides in adolescents being related to alcohol abuse.

Social effects

The social problems arising from alcoholism can be massive and are caused in part due to the serious pathological changes induced in the brain from prolonged alcohol misuse and partly because of the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Alcohol abuse is also associated with increased risks of committing criminal offences including child abuse, domestic violence, rapes, burglaries and assaults. Alcoholism is associated with loss of employment, which can lead to financial problems including the loss of living quarters. Drinking at inappropriate times, and behavior caused by reduced judgment, can lead to legal consequences, such as criminal charges for drunk driving or public disorder, or civil penalties for tortious behavior. An alcoholic’s behavior and mental impairment while drunk can profoundly impact those surrounding them and lead to isolation fromfamily and friends, possibly leading to marital conflict and divorce, or contributing to domestic violence. This can contribute to a loss of self-esteem and even lead to jail. Alcoholism can also lead to child neglect, with subsequent lasting damage to the emotional development of the alcoholic’s children, even after they reach adulthood.

Alcohol withdrawal

Main article: Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal differs significantly from most other drugs in that it can be directly

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Getting the proper coverage

Here are some tips to help you make the right choices about homeowners insurance.

Just as there are different home styles, insurers offer a menu of different policies. For the majority of single-family homeowners, the most appropriate policy is the HO-3, sometimes called the special policy (in Texas, for some reason, it’s known as the HO-B). It insures all major perils, except flood, earthquake, war, and nuclear accident.

You’ll need deep coverage, up to and including 100% of your home’s replacement cost. By insuring at, say, 90%, you’re making the reasonable bet that your home won’t ever be a complete loss. That may be a reasonable bet. The basement usually remains intact almost regardless of what happens to the rest of the house. Still, victims of the devastating Oakland Hills, Calif. fire in 1991 witnessed the destruction of even their basements. If you want to play it safe, insure at 100%.

Insurers generally cover a home’s contents up to between 50% and 75% of the home’s value. Make a list of your home’s contents for a more exact estimate of your needs. That also provides a written record that’s useful when you file a claim. The industry-sponsored Insurance Information Institute provides useful instructions on how to put together an inventory.


You’ll also have to pick a deductible, which is the amount you pay yourself before the insurance kicks in. The higher you go, the more you’ll save.

Buy the guarantees

Traditional guaranteed replacement cost coverage promises to pay whatever it takes to rebuild your home, even if it costs more than the original limits you purchased. That’s crucial in the event that labor and building costs balloon after a major disaster. In many states, large insurers now cap the guarantee at 120% to 125% of purchased limits.

Your safest bet is to seek a company with no cap. However, if you’ve properly valued your home’s replacement cost, the caps shouldn’t scare you. It’s unlikely that building and labor costs will go up to more than 120% of your home’s insured value.

If it’s not built into your policy, ask for replacement cost coverage for your home’s contents. Without it, you’ll end up with just the depreciated value of any object that’s damaged or stolen.

Get these types of important coverage, too:

Inflation guard

This option annually increases your premium at the rate of local building-cost inflation.

Ordinance-and-law coverage

This rider, which covers the costs of bringing your home into compliance with current building codes, is a must if your home is more than a few years old.

Limit your liability

Your homeowners policy protects against lawsuits for accidents that happen on your property. It also covers you if your dog bites someone.

You might also consider umbrella liability coverage, which is additional coverage over and above your regular homeowners liability limits.

Consider these options:


Your homeowners policy also provides for living expenses if you’re displaced; replacement of structures such as garages and sheds; and limited medical coverage for someone injured on your property. Don’t buy more than the minimum offered. Depending on your situation, however, several other types of coverage may be worthwhile:


Floods aren’t covered by ordinary homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In California, you may need earthquake coverage; check with the California Earthquake Authority.

–Home business coverage

Business property worth more than ,500 isn’t covered by a homeowners policy, so buy a separate policy — also known as a rider — to fill the gap. Business liability coverage must be purchased separately, too.

–Riders for valuables

A standard policy provides only minimal coverage for antiques, collectibles, furs, silver, jewels, cameras, computers, musical instruments, and firearms. For these, you need separate coverage.

More information can be found at

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