Head Games: Drugs of Abuse – Alcohol

A l c o h o l

Introduction

Alcohol is the oldest and most commonly used drug in the world and is taken orally, and is the only drug that contains calories. It is rapidly metabolized and absorbed and distributed to cells throughout the body and is metabolized into carbon dioxide and water within a few hours. Alcohol produces few health effects in low doses, however it causes severe health problems with high doses and regular use.

Slang/Street Names

Booze, brew, hooch, juice, spirits

Pharmacokinetics

Alcohol initially stimulates the dopamine in the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, however these levels of dopamine decrease to normalcy as drinking continues. When not drinking, these dopamine levels drop so the person must continue to drink to feel the safe level of “normalcy” that was experienced when they were drinking. As alcohol levels increase, cognitive and motor skills diminish and at higher drinking levels, important centers of the brain (breathing, gag reflex) are impaired and could possibly lead to death.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Abuse/Dependence

Acute effects of Alcohol abuse include disinhibition, relaxation, euphoria, agitation, drowsiness, impaired cognition, impaired judgment and impaired memory as well as perceptual and motor dysfunctioning. People who abuse Alcohol may demonstrate hand tremors, stomach problems, diarrhea, morning nausea and vomiting, frequent urinating, impotence and headaches. Chronic dependence on Alcohol leads to memory blackouts, nightmares, insomnia, hallucinations, paranoia, intellectual impairment, dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a mental disorder brought on by alcoholism and marked by neural irritation, disturbances of memory and orientation).

Alcohol abusers and those who may be dependent on Alcohol experience depression, a deteriorating job performance, change in social interactions, as well as they have an increased risk for stroke and death in automobile accidents.

Withdrawal and Overdose

People who are withdrawing from Alcohol may experience some or all of the following withdrawal effects for up to 5 days after stopping drinking: Insomnia, irritability, headaches, delirium tremens (a form of acute insanity marked by sweating, stomach problems, restlessness, anxiety, mental confusion and hallucinations – auditory or visual). Untreated Alcohol withdrawal may include seizures, severe hyperthermia, and possibly death.

If you are struggling and abusing alcohol, please consider asking others for help, by clicking here.

Other HEAD GAMES Drugs of Abuse:

Amphetamines

Cocaine

Hallucinogens (Marijuana and LSD)

Opiates

Sedative/Hypnotics


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