Length: 1323 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
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Alcohol can be traced back to ancient times when Egyptians used beer and wine for ritual and celebratory purposes (Hanson 1995). Osiris, the god of wine, was praised throughout the entire land of Egypt. The Egyptians believed that this important god also invented beer, a beverage that was considered a necessity of life and was brewed in the home. Both beer and wine were created for and sacrificed to the gods. Fast-forward 12,000 years and the variety of alcohol has become so numerous, people no longer need a reason to drink. However, most of the population is unaware of the chemical reaction that is occurring within their body every time they take a sip. It has always been evident that alcohol has an effect on brain function, which in-turn impairs the behavior of a person. Not only has alcohol been linked to multiple physical issues but also mental and emotional. When alcohol is consumed it can create acetaldehyde in the brain to allow a chemical reaction to take place with other elements already in the brain waiting to be activated. When acetaldehyde reacts with chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine then there is a strong chance that psychoactive alkaloids such as salsolinol will be produced (Sullivan et. al 2010). Acetaldehyde is present everywhere in the atmosphere and may be produced in the body due to the breakdown of ethanol.
Acute (short-term) exposure to acetaldehyde results in disturbances such as irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Symptoms of chronic (long-term) intoxication of acetaldehyde seem to be parallel with those of alcoholism. Besides these physical effects, alcohol has been seen as playing a role in multiple sexual outcomes and processes. It not only changes a person’s sexual latency but also impairs their view on a potential mate’s physical appeal (George and Stoner 2000). Even knowing that another person has drunk can influence the way he or she is viewed. And although alcohol is commonly known to be a social lubricant, it can also severely impair judgment and cause a person to carry out an action or become interested in something they otherwise would never explore or even encounter.
Methods and Results
When studying brain pathology, it is common to conduct postmortem research. This is because when a brain is functioning, it can be very difficult to view more than just images of the brain’s activity level. After a person dies, their brain goes through a process in order to preserve the brain structure, which in turn enables studies to be done (Sullivan et. al 2010). Studies conducted this way have contributed to our knowledge of the permanent nervous system damage from long-term and reoccurring alcohol intoxication. In terms of temporary effects, the list includes impaired judgment, poor insight, distractibility, cognitive rigidity, and reduced motor skills. Acute alcohol intoxication compared with sobriety effects hand-eye coordination, stability in gait and balance, and speed performance. This translates into alcoholics still being able to do tasks that require hand-eye coordination, it just seems to take them a longer amount of time to do so (Sullivan et. al 2010). When viewing a brain in vivo, a MRI is conducted and the images presented give insight as to which parts of the brain are being used while in the scanner. This machine has allowed comparison between a frequent drinker and a sober person. The average person uses the part of the brain called the dorsal neural stream when they are recalling memories whereas alcoholics use a different part of the brain called the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (Sullivan et. al 2010). Many problems contracted while alcoholism is taking place can start to recover over extended sobriety, however they are also in danger to further decline with continued drinking.
In terms of physical and emotional effects of alcohol, it does seem to play a role in many sexual adventures. This is probably because, as George and Stoner (2000) claim, when a person is consuming alcohol, they are seen as more sensual and are believed to more likely engage in sex. Because of this, it is no surprise that alcohol has been known to serve as an aphrodisiac in situations such as weddings, dates, and fraternity keggers. Dependant upon the social context in which a person is involved, it can alter a their drinking habits making them either more or less inclined to drink more and act differently (Masten et. al 2009). Nonetheless, alcohol can be separated into two separate groups, what is expected to happen, and what actually happens. Alcohol is expected to play social lubricant and aphrodisiac which makes people identify somebody in a more sexually manor due to the simple fact that the person had been drinking (George and Stoner 2000). This is because drinking men and women are seen as more sexually obtainable and willing to take part in foreplay as well as intercourse than their non-drinking equivalent. However when it comes to what is truly occurring, things are quite different. Alcohol actually decreases both women’s and men’s genital reactions. Male’s penile prominence is actually restrained and their orgasm potential is decreased. Likewise, female’s potential for orgasm is lowered and the blood flow to the vagina is constrained (George and Stoner 2000). This means that even though people feel as though the alcohol is enabling them to become more sexual and be aroused easier and more often, it is actually doing the opposite. In spite of this, it is not noticed because of the expectancy. At some point throughout the course of a person’s drinking escapade, they would have to convince themselves that the good outweighs the bad and that drinking will create a more positive outcome than a negative one (Becker 2008). These suggestions were researched through a study of implementing alcohol as well as placebos to men and women and then having them view different images and talk with different people in order to see what would arouse them and what was seen as attractive and sexual.
The misrepresentation of a drunk person is often perceived attempting to walk in a straight line and failing while displaying no coordination whatsoever. But, it is much more than that, and a lot is occurring inside the brain at that point and from the work done by Sullivan et. al, it should stand to say that if you were to give a drunken person enough time, there is a possibility they will be able to accomplish any task on a normal level. In the present paper, it has been illustrated that the link between health, wellness, sexual endeavors, social interactions, and behavior can all lead back to alcohol in some way. However, even knowing all these facts and the effects alcohol can cause not only mentally, but also physically, people continue to drink, even if only a sip.