Introduction To Alcohol Abuse

By Brian Lemay No comments

Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol,
is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor.   Alcohol is produced by
yeasts in the fermentation of sugars and starches.   European colonists brought large
quantities of alcohol with them in the 1700s, and alcohol
became an item in the fur trade. As colonization advanced,
alcohol became a disruptive force in the traditional social
structures of Native peoples.   Alcohol is a central
nervous system depressant drug. It is rapidly absorbed from the
stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Because alcohol is a poison, it
is broken down in the liver and eliminated through
the kidneys and lungs.   Alcohol intoxication, or
drunkenness, results from ingesting more alcohol
that the body can break down. Physically, alcohol affects
every organ in the drinker’s body, and heavy use will
significantly increase risk of liver disease, heart
disease, stroke, and many types of cancer.   Alcohol can easily cross the
placenta and damage a developing fetus, causing impaired
growth, poor health, and mental development
problems for life.   Drunkenness alters our
perception of the world, changes our behavior and
interaction with others, and it impairs our judgment
and motor skills.   Alcohol abuse is a pattern of
drinking that results in harm to one’s health,
interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. This includes poor
performance at work or school, involvement in
dangerous situations like drinking and driving, legal problems like domestic
violence or disorderly conduct, continued drinking that
affects relationships, drinking for emotional comfort,
and even psychiatric problems.   Alcohol abuse can lead to
alcoholism, which is a physical dependence with
increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.   An alcoholic needs
increasingly more alcohol to feel the same effects.   An alcoholic will experience
withdrawal symptoms that include many physical symptoms,
and even hallucinations.   An alcoholic spends a lot of
time, energy and focus drinking, thinking about it,
and recovering from it.   An “alcoholic” will continue
to drink despite harm or personal injury to one’s
self, family and community.   “Historical trauma” is the
collective emotional and psychological injury both
over the life span and across generations, resulting
from a history of genocide.   This generates a sense
of powerlessness and hopelessness that contributes
to high rates of alcoholism, substance abuse, suicide,
and other health issues.   Current research indicates
that nearly one in every eight deaths among native
people is related to alcohol.   This is about three times the
rate of the general population. Alcoholism is
multi-generational, and the risk of becoming an
alcoholic increases in members of alcoholic families.   Presently it affects 3 or 4
generations at the same time.   Those who came before us
prayed for those born and those yet unborn,
they prayed for us.   They did not pray that we
would forget who we are, that we would stumble
around barely conscious, that we would neglect our
children, that we would shame ourselves and beat each
other and die early deaths. They prayed that we would
carry on our ways, that we would live in respect for ourselves
and others, that we would nurture our children, live
spiritual lives, look after mother Earth and keep our
communities strong and healthy. If we remember the prayers
of our ancestors, we can put an end to the
destruction of our people

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