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For all those of us who indulge in gulping down a peg or two in the name of social drinking, it is pertinent to point out that alcohol is a social evil, and has devastating personal and social effects. Alcohol can ruin the person mentally and physically, the family financially, and the society morally.Nutritional deficiencies due to alcoholismAlcohol is known to cause many nutritional problems. It causes deficiency of the B group of vitamins, particularly Vitamin B1. Deficiency of this causes a disease known as Beriberi. Alcohol causes malabsorption, by not allowing secretion of enzymes from the stomach. This causes malabsorption of essential substances like, folic acid (resulting in anemia), zinc ( skin changes, poor healing of wounds), calcium (poor fracture healing, weak bones), iron ( anemia), Vitamin D ( poor bone quality), A ( blindness), K ( bleeding tendency).Effect on body physiologyAcute alcohol intake causes acute liver failure, while chronic intake causes liver cirrhosis, and in some liver failure, and cancer. It also causes depletion of liver sources of glucose, leading to hypoglycemia, particularly in diabetics, and Vitamin A, which has such a major role in vision. Persons can go blind. Alcohol intake also causes bleeding from the stomach, causing anemia, blood in vomitus (hematemesis).Korsakoff psychoses – Larson (2006), has written a detailed paper on the spectrum of alcohol related psychosis. He mentions the role of the hormone dopamine in the development of this psychosis. Deficiency of Vitamin B1 leads to a situation of delirium and severe withdrawal known as Wernicke-Korsakoff psychosis, which can be fatal. However it is reversible with stoppage of alcohol.Alcoholism and obesityAlcohol is chemically ethanol, which is burnt by the body rapidly to satisfy the metabolic requirements. Large doses of ethanol result in conversion to fat, which is stored up leading to obesity. Another indirect reason is the consumption of fried snacks and meats along with alcohol, which further aggravates the problem. Obesity is a major cause of heart diseases, strokes, joint problems, lethargy to name a few.Alcoholism and povertyAlcoholism is a direct cause of poverty in some of the societies. The addiction is so strong, that men often blow out their entire earning on drinking and neglect their households. This of course is just another key in a deeply rooted malady of the society. If drinking can be curbed, a number of households can be saved from abject poverty at least in some of the less developed nations.Alcoholism and mental changesRising blood levels of alcohol cause a spectrum of mental changes, ranging from euphoria to aggression, violent tendencies, psychoses, and even death. Chronic alcohol intake can cause severe personality changes, make a person abusive in nature, and cause him to develop persecutory hallucination.Alcoholism and road traffic accidentsA large number of accidents on the road are caused directly as a result of alcohol intake. In the annual statistics of the road accidents over fifteen years, reveals interesting data. This reveals more than 27% of accidents due to alcohol, in 1986, to about 20% in 1999. This data reveals the massive burden of alcohol on the society. Development of risk taking tendency, aggression, loss of inhibition and control, reduced mental alertness, and slower reflexes may be thought of as some of the more important reasons. As a direct result of alcohol intake, innocent lives are lost, huge morbidity is caused, creating a large financial and social burden. It should be a constant endeavor, not to indulge in the ‘one for the road’ theory.Alcoholism as an aphrodisiacIt is always difficult to prove the efficacy of any aphrodisiac, least of all of alcohol. It is always included in this elite list. It probably increases the sex drive, by making the individual more aggressive.Beneficial effects of alcoholTaken in low doses, it acts as a digestive, promoting gastric motility. It creates a feeling of warmth, and well being in low doses. Another recent benefit is its role as a substitute for petrol for vehicles. It is being mixed in small quantities with petrol producing similar effects, and effectively reducing the requirement of petrol, which is not replenishable, being a natural product, and also being more environment friendly. It’s probably nicer to let the vehicles do the drinking. 

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