Alcohol dependence syndrome is the compulsion to consume alcohol on a continuous basis. Alcohol is consumed to experience it's calming effects and sometimes to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that accompany it. The individual is unable to stop drinking even if they are aware of its negative physical and psychological effects.
A large number of research has added to our understanding of the alcoholic effects on the brain. Firstly, a majority of the heavy alcohol abusers experience blackouts. This occurs when a person consumes excess alcohol, they may be able to engage in various activities or have rational conversations but will have no memory of these events the next day.
Alcohol also affects one's brain by activating the "pleasure areas" in the brain, which are known to release endogenous opioid. Higher levels of alcohol in the blood, slows downs the brain's neurotransmitter, glutamate. Glutamate slows down a person's ability to learn and also affects other brain activities such as judgement and lowers self-control. Drinkers are also unable to feel cold, pain or discomfort. After consuming alcohol, the drinker experiences a sense of adequacy and well-being by temporarily blocking all unpleasant situations and experiences.
If the alcohol content in the blood reaches 0.8%, the person is considered intoxicated. Noticeable signs include speech and vision impairment, nausea, confusion in thought process and motor incoordination. However, the effects of alcohol differ among people, depending on their physic, drinking duration and food in their stomach. For example, women get intoxicated on lesser amounts compared to men, because they metabolise alcohol less effectively than men.
Alcohol metabolism is done by the liver and consumption of large amounts of alcohol may over work and damage the liver. Around 40-90% of liver cirrhosis deaths every year are alcohol related. Since alcohol is a high calorie drug, it reduces the drinkers appetite for other foods. Therefore, those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol may suffer from malnutrition.
Besides other physical issues, alcohol drinkers also suffer from chronic fatigue and depression. Alcohol does not only affect one's cognitive abilities, but also has a negative impact on their behavior. They display inappropriate behavior, they become less responsible and neglect their spouse and family. Since alcohol impairs one's judgement, an excessive drinker is unable to hold a job and is unable to cope with the new demands. Their personality deterioration may lead to loss of employment and separation from their family.