Hello, i am new to this site so i am attempting to ask anyone if they can peer review my undergraduate essay. I am not so sure about my thesis statement, and i have taken a few attempts at it, and i hope that it will suffice for this writing. also, i tried to transition from each paragraph to another in the best way i could find. Any feedback on that would be great. Thank you for your suggestions.
Early Onset of AUD and the cure: Hereditary, Genetic or Environmental?
For many years, consuming alcohol was an accepted practice in many households. There was a time when it was so mainstream that many people consumed alcohol during work as a way to create social bonds or to push a sales deal to the final signature. It was part of the culture. Even advertisers portrayed it as a way of life. With all of this, there also comes a dark side. There were some that drank more than others, while some could do it socially. For the hardcore drinkers it would become a habit that ruined their lives and the lives of those around them. AUD, or Alcohol Use Disorder, led many of these people down a path to destruction. This prompted researchers to look closer at the causes of addiction and what may be done to curb, or even cure it.
The debate about what determines if a person will suffer from AUD has been going on for generations. In my own experiences I had developed an ideology that a responsible person is not overtaken by addiction. If you were strong, then anyone could overcome addiction. This has been replaced with a cautious wavering on my part as I have discovered there are factors involved that have a real effect on what drives someone to drink in excess, even from an early age. I have family members that I never realized were raging alcoholics even though they showed up to work on time and led what seemed to be normal lives. By diving into the details of AUD I am finding that, for many people like this, their lives have been consumed with getting the next drink. This becomes, in my opinion, a life less ambitious than it should be. But it also caused me to rethink my attitude about alcoholism. Instead of fighting in the present to stop someone from drinking, I focused my attention on the signs that someone would exhibit at a young age that may point to the onset of early age drinking.
There are many people that suffer from the effects of AUD than we may realize. Families have spent years dealing with the family drunk during holidays or watched a child slowly deteriorate over their habit of alcohol use from teenage to adulthood. This does raise questions for me, like, how does someone become addicted to alcohol and what factors contribute to this? Is it something that you are born with or is it culminated from how someone is raised? Could something be done to combat the onset of alcohol abuse before it even starts? These valid questions should be asked when confronted with the effects of AUD on one's family members. Once socially accepted, drinking alcohol in excess can lead to extremes that debilitate and create havoc which adversely affects anyone involved with the abuser.The effects of alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be lessened or eliminated by addressing the influence that heredity and genetics, environmental influences and physiological factors have on the early onset of alcoholism.
Young people tend to be able to deal with the physical effects of alcohol much better than older people do. This could lend itself to a more relaxed relationship with alcohol and lead the abuser to believe that its ok to drink in excess. As they age, these people find that their body does not react the same as it did while they were partying away, seemingly enjoying themselves (although they may have!). Older People, over 60 anyway, that choose to drink in excess daily will feel the negative effects of alcoholism and could put themselves in danger of contracting a debilitating disease or complicating an existing condition.
According to a journal published by the Research Society on Alcoholism, the body's immune system is adversely affected by alcohol at advanced ages, and the effects of alcohol on the elderly are more potent because of the pro-inflammatory state of the aged. They also have decreased lung function and cough strength, which further escalates the risk for developing pneumonia (ScienceDaily, 2016). As a young person you would not think of this as a deterrent to drinking in excess but it becomes more prevalent of a problem as you age. Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis can be exacerbated by excessive drinking so older people should consider twice whether to engage in excessive drinking. The evidence also shows that once a person is environmentally accustomed to drinking on a daily basis, the ability to walk away from it is much more difficult. That being said, the ability to get away from alcohol may also be determined by genetics.
AUD is a disease that can be passed down to the offspring of a drinker. The Alcohol Rehab Guide which works with nationally recognized rehab centers to provide treatment seekers with counseling, placement and insurance/financial consultations claim that scientists believe there are up to 51 genes that can be passed down through generations, creating a risk for family members to become much more prone to developing drinking problems. (Alcohol Rehab Guide, 2018). Meaning, a person is apt to drink if their parents were heavy drinkers. Genetics do play a part for AUD sufferers. If we are to help adolescents avoid alcohol abuse it would be a good idea to not be an excessive drinker from the start, reducing the risk of passing on genes that may predispose a child to drink. This does come with some caveats though.
There is research that shows genes are responsible for half of the risk for AUD, but genes alone do not determine whether someone will develop the condition. Environmental factors also play a part in the abuse (NIAAA, 2018). If a child was raised around beer drinking, hell raising parents, the risk of AUD may be greater than it would be for those that did not experience this kind of upbringing. Parents that party like kids tend to leave an impression that its ok to act that way. Small children growing up in this atmosphere would only react to it in like. So, does the past create the present?
Other research has shown that genetics alone do not determine if a person will develop AUD. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that the characteristics of alcoholism are not unique to children of alcoholics, since the same factors that determine if a person will develop alcohol problems is not associated with family history (NIAAA, 2018). Some people become addicted to alcohol due to circumstances that are environmentally, or behaviorally driven. While some people seem to be able to limit the amount of alcohol they consume, there are others that feel a strong desire to continue drinking. Alcohol gives some people feelings of pleasure while encouraging the brain to repeat the behavior. Repetitive behavior like this can make you more vulnerable to developing alcoholism. (Alcohol Rehab Guide, 2018).
Whether AUD is genetic or environmental is up for debate. There are those that side with one or the other, but being a member of a family that drinks consistently can certainly influence the thinking of an individual. Creating an environment for children that does not include excessive drinking should be considered when a parent chooses to positively affect a child's life. Denying that genetics plays a part in the scheme of things is naïve. The "drive-to-drink" may be regulated by both factors equally.
Genetics are different among individuals but are not exclusive to family related alcoholism. The environment, in which an adolescent is exposed to, can create opportunities that may influence their behavior when it comes to drinking alcohol. The beginning of substance abuse may be apparent as environmental factors show themselves in adolescents (Vink, 2016). Families should consider their actions and the reactions of the children in their circle, possibly adjusting behaviors to suit a more positive environment.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published findings that support and environmental effect on adolescents. Emotional and social situations play a part in young people abusing alcohol, as children of families that abuse alcohol may not learn how to deal with emotional situations and may lack social skills. This increases the likelihood of rejection by mainstream peer groups and will lead to associating with others that abuse alcohol (NIAAA, 2018). When people are not accepted in typical social situations, they may be prone to AUD.
Community acceptance of alcohol use will also promote easier tolerance of the activity. People who live closer to businesses that sell alcohol are said to have a more positive outlook on drinking and are more likely to participate in the activity. This is not exclusive to lower income families, though it may initially appear to be that way. Poorer families can be affected to a greater degree, but it is interesting to see that recent polls show that people with an annual household income of $75,000 or more consume alcohol at significantly higher rates than those at lower levels (Alcohol Rehab Guide, 2018). Again, the family will become responsible for providing a positive environment for the children and may help to overcome any genetic persuasion of early onset of AUD. Positive community influences also affect the mental health of children.
Physiological responses to alcoholic parents affect the state of mental health in an individual and can lead to the abuse of alcohol. Mental health will be one determining factor whether they can overcome the addiction. The link between alcohol use and mental health has been studied over the years with some interesting results. A study in Finland, published by the European Journal of Public Health found that moderate drinkers tend to be associated with better mental health. The study concluded that mental disorders, life satisfaction and health-related quality of life is drastically different for heavy drinkers (Mäkelä, Raitasalo, Wahlbeck, 2014). This means that people who are better adjusted to their environments tend to drink less than those that are not. This being said, the environment that children live in could be a driving force in the child's decision to drink. Parental abuse of alcohol could possibly prevent the development of positive environmental factors that would propagate a healthy mental state. With a parent that drinks, their attention may not always be on the child and what is good for them. They spend their time being inebriated and cannot function as a parent should, further creating distress and disconnection from society by the child. The NIAAA also showed that this is true.
"Evidence suggests that children of alcoholics grow up in homes in which parenting and the family environment are poor, with parents showing less monitoring of adolescent behavior, more family conflict and poorer parent-child relationships" (NIAAA, 2018).
Can you imagine being a child who is looking for their parent's participation in your life but getting no response to it because they are too drunk to get off the couch? Family participation and involvement will be the key to ensuring a positive outcome for children and will possibly curb the effects that genetics has on their disposition.
There is further proof of this that comes from a study done by the NIAAA. They found most children of alcoholics do not develop alcohol dependence, partially due to the fact that they may not experience environments such as difficult temperaments or poor parenting (NIAAA, 2018). Conversely, it is also understood that children in a high-risk familial setting showed an onset of early age use of alcohol and the risk increased with the density of alcoholism within the family (Hill, Sheen, Lowers, Locke, 2000).
The consensus among all of the sources I looked through seem to concur that AUD is prevalent in genetic and environmental influences as well as physiological, but moderate use of alcohol does not necessarily give an inclination to become an abuser. It is determined to be hereditary and can be fueled by environment. AUD can become prevalent from a combination of both, then complicated by mental health. To help someone suffering from AUD can be a sensitive subject once the disease has taken root. It becomes the responsibility of the abuser to address the issues with an understanding of what they are dealing with.
Young people can be taught that excessive drinking is not good simply by parents, and family, providing them a strong foundation to build upon through positive influences and creating a "normalcy" that they can aspire to. Children need to know that their home life is stable and will react accordingly when they see the people they love and trust doing what is good for them. Excessive drinking should not be a part of their growing experience. Also, the mental health of the child should have close attention and issues addressed at the earliest sign of trouble.
No one wants to be told how to live and there is no one that wants to take the responsibility of directing someone's life either. Children are influenced by many things, and the best that a parent can do is to ensure they get the love and support they need to gain an understanding of themselves and the results of their actions. Teaching personal responsibility can go a long way for a child's upbringing. It may not solve all of their problems but at least they will know who they are. And that will carry them through many challenges in life.
In conclusion, the environment in which children are raised speaks volumes for the adults they will become. For some the desire to drink may be genetically present but not necessarily dominant enough to make the difference between drinking or not. They may also have a parent who was an alcoholic and who passed to them just the right amount of DNA to create a toxic habit. Overall, a positive environment and upbringing with loving support can have an effect on the child that would push them towards a healthier way of life. Parents will also need to educate themselves about AUD so that they can make better decisions when it comes to the use of alcohol and the affects it would have in their life. This would also help them to teach their children how to avoid the traps that may be placed before them during their adolescent years.
Genetics and heredity aside, environmental factors play the largest part in early onset of AUD. Staying open and positive, while enforcing good moral values, will carry a child through a life that could be better than what they would have if they were alcoholics. Strong family ties will be beneficial, if not crucial, when it comes to supporting young people when they are faced with a situation that could lead to the start of a bad habit. Couple that with knowledge of AUD and the risk early onset of AUD can be reduced significantly.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Psychosocial Factors in Alcohol Use and Alcoholism"
Pia Mäkelä, Kirsimarja Raitasalo, Kristian Wahlbeck. Mental health and alcohol use: a cross-sectional study of the Finnish general population". European Journal of Public Health
Shirley Y Hill, Sa Shen, Lisa Lowers, Jeannette Locke. "Factors predicting the onset of adolescent drinking in families at high risk for developing alcoholism". Science Direct: Biological Psychiatry
Alcohol Rehab Guide. "Alcoholism Causes and Risk Factors." Alcohol Rehab Guide
Jacquline M Vink, PhD. "Genetics of Addiction: Future Focus on Gene x Environment Interaction?". Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder"
Research Society on Alcoholism. "'Inflamm-aging: Alcohol makes it even worse." ScienceDaily