FAQ – Alcohol

Q. Why do some people just act stupid when they drink?
A. “Alcohol is poisonous to your nervous tissue and messes up your brain’s normal function. It can cause dizziness, nausea, unsteady gait, confusion, sleepiness or agitation. It lowers inhibitions and usually effects behavior. Since we’re not all alike, it will effect different people differently. It’s particularly dangerous and damaging to a young brain. It is a leading cause of dementia!” — Dr. Harold Morse

A. “Alcohol is a drug that works primarily on the chemicals in your brain that allow one nerve to communicate to another. Interfering in how those nerves communicate with each other produces the behavior you can observe in those under the influence of alcohol. It causes several different effects that can add up to the “stupid” behavior. Primarily that behavior is exhibited when the drug causes sedation or sleepiness in combination with a decrease in your ability to control your inhibitions. In other words you lose your ‘self-control’.” — Dr. Keith Hart

Q. Can I become addicted to alcohol?
A. “The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person’s genes and by his or her lifestyle. Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily available alcohol is also are factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism. But remember: Risk is not destiny. Just because alcoholism tends to run in families doesn’t mean that a child of an alcoholic parent will automatically become an alcoholic too. Some people develop alcoholism even though no one in their family has a drinking problem. By the same token, not all children of alcoholic families get into trouble with alcohol. Knowing you are at risk is important, though, because then you can take steps to protect yourself from developing problems with alcohol.” — Joe Feleppa, Director of AnMed Health Behavioral Health Services (source from NIAA and NIDA)

Q. How do you know if someone is an alcoholic?
A. “Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disease that includes the following four symptoms:

  • Craving – A strong need, or urge, to drink.
  • Loss of control – Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
  • Physical dependence – Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
  • Tolerance – The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get ‘high’.” — Joe Feleppa, Director of AnMed Health Behavioral Health Services (source from NIAA and NIDA)