Alcohol: Best or Worst Times of Life? Alcohol has many dangerous effects and should be banned. That being said, what exactly IS alcohol? Alcohol is a clear liquid at room temperature, it is flammable and it can be dissolved in water. Alcohol is usually produced in two main ways: fermentation or distillation. The alcohol found in alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine is known as ethyl alcohol. Alcohol is rarely found in a pure form. In beer, the ethanol concentration is only 4 to 6 percent.

In wine the ethanol concentration is 7 to 11 percent and in champagne 8 to 14 percent. In distilled spirits such as rum or vodka, ethanol concentration can be anywhere from 45 to 90 percent! Alcohol has made its way into western culture; from the good tasting beverage to have after work to the "cool" thing to do in front of all your friends. The United States has tried to ban alcohol consumption. The Prohibition in 1919 occurred when the 18 th amendment was approved; this outlawed the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. However, the ban on liquor was highly unsuccessful. Crime rates shot sky high and the demand for liquor was as high as ever.

However, the 18 th amendment was repealed by the 21 st in 1933 (Mason 2). Where the 18 th amendment failed, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 succeeded. The National minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 required that all states change their legal drinking age. If the states refused to comply with this new law, the state would lose its money under the Federal Aid Highway Act (Mason 1). This only proves the point further that alcohol is dangerous and should be banned for a variety of reasons: it has many negative effects on youth, it causes a lot of damage inside the home and out, and there are many physically ill effects. Alcohol has many negative effects on youth.

Some of the most influential factors in a youth's decision to drink are parents and peers. However, past and present research has shown that alcohol advertising also has a significant impact by 'influencing the attitudes of parents and peers and helping to create an environment that promotes underage drinking. (CAMY 1). Youth are easily influenced through television advertisements. "A 1996 study of children age's nine to eleven found that children were more familiar with Budweiser's television frogs than Kellogg's Tony the Tiger, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, or Smokey the Bear (CAMY 1). This is related with another fact, that the children that were more aware of these advertisements are more likely to drink as adults, than the children that did not know as much about the advertisements.

Early addiction to alcohol would cause the obvious financial problems, as well as the physical ones. However, youth / underage drinking not only damages the person themselves, but also damages the rest of society. A recent study shows that the cost of alcohol use by youth was $53 billion in 1996 including $19 billion from traffic crashes and $29 from violent crime (CAMY 1). Alcohol may also affect the adolescent brain more than the rest of the body. New research shows that early heavy alcohol use may have negative effects on the actual physical development of the brain structure (CAMY 1).

We all know that youth's may not have the best sense of judgment, and this is clearly evident by the numbers of drinking and driving. In 1996, drivers ages 21-24 had the highest intoxication rates (27%) for fatal crashes (TSF 1). Drinking is also not good for the youth's grades. A clear relationship exists between alcohol use and grade-point average.

Students with Gas of D's or F's drink three times as much as those who earn A's (Presley and Mailman 32). All of these negative consequences would take place if a youth were to participate in drinking-that is if the youth managed to stay out of reach of the law. There are many legal consequences of underage drinking, as well as the effects on the body and mind. A first offense of possession by a minor is a fine up to $500, 8-12 hours of community service and a 30-day suspension of license.

A last offense is punishable by a fine anywhere from $250-$2, 000, jail time for up to 180 days and an automatic suspension of driver's license. I don't think Mom and Pops are going to be too happy to see that one. Alcohol is responsible for many crimes inside the home and out. In fact, a recent study shows that alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes. Among the 3 million violent crimes that happen each year, their victims think that the offender has been drinking at the time of their offense. Among the victims who could provide information about the offender, 35% happenings involved an offender who had been drinking.

Two-thirds of the alcohol involved crimes were characterized as just simple assaults. (Buddy T 2) Inside of the home, recent studies also show that men are more likely to abuse partners on the days that they drink. Studies show that the odds of any occurrence of male-female aggression are eight times higher on days when the male drinks alcohol. Compared to days with no alcohol consumption, the odds of male-female aggression after heavy drinking (six drinks or more) is 18 times higher.

(RIA 2) The violent episodes would occur during or after the drinking had happened. Any individuals that were found to be having a severe alcohol misuse problem would engage in partner violence regardless of how much they have drunk or the time. Participants in this study were males with a known violent history towards partners. It is unclear whether or not these same results would apply to the general population (RIA 2). In the general population, alcoholic consumption or even heavy drinking does not lead to domestic violence (RIA 2). However, the results from this study show that alcohol has some kind of role in relation to anger and marital relationships.

This study is important because the signs of increased male to female physical aggression could lead to domestic violence, another negative consequence of alcohol. Alcohol and drug use is often affiliated with gangs. There are many more negative consequences of alcohol, such as driving while under the influence. In 1996, a study estimated that 1, 467, 300 arrests were from DUI. Arrests for DUI peaked in 1983 when there were 1. 9 million arrests.

Compared to 1983, the rate of arrest for DUI in 1996 was 34% lower. (Buddy T 1) It is good that the rates of DUI arrests are being lowered, this probably also means that car accidents as well as death rates are lowering too. When one gets into a car while drunk, they no longer throw away their lives, but the lives of other people on the road are also in danger. Alcohol has many negative effects on the body, and may even cause death.

There are two "kinds of effects" when drinking. Short term and long term. Long term drinking affects mainly the brain and the central nervous system. Short term drinking has numerous characteristics but is often times less severe than the long term ones. Short term alcohol consumption effects include loss of inhibition (doing something that you would not normally do), nausea, vomiting, and inability to drive a car, or slowed breathing and heart rates. Some of the most serious effects of long term alcohol consumption occur in the liver.

If there is a constant occurrence of alcohol in blood, the alcohol causes the liver cells to die which prevents the liver from working efficiently. The disease in which the liver works inefficiently is known as Cirrhosis. Normal people have time to repair damaged liver cells, but heavy drinkers and addicts will be constantly consuming alcohol and there is no time for the liver to repair itself. Cirrhosis is a common condition in heavy drinkers and addicts. In fact, two-thirds of the cases of Cirrhosis of the liver diagnosed in the UK are caused by alcohol. (CAAS 1) Long term drinking can also cause permanent brain damage or mental disorders.

One of the permanent effects on the brain involves the size. The amount of brain tissue is reduced and the size of the ventricles are increased. (CAAS 1) Heavy drinkers or addicts also deprive their bodies of food, which often contain valuable vitamins. These heavy drinkers often neglect their diet which leads to vitamin deficiencies. (CAAS 1) One of the most common missing vitamins is Thiamine, a B vitamin, a lack of Thiamine / vitamin B may lead to a serious mental disorders. A syndrome known as Wernicke's Encephalopathy may develop and effects such as impaired memory, confusion, and a lack of coordination might occur.

Further neglect of thiamine may lead to Korsakoff's Syndrome. This second disorder's characteristics include amnesia, apathy, and disorientation. (USED 1) Many mental disorders may come from not just vitamin deficiency, but also the addiction to alcohol. A new study has shown that about 4 million people live with serious mental illness. Data shows that 33.

2 million adults aged 18 or older had a serious mental illness or a substance use disorder in 2002. (SAHM SA 1) That survey was taken in 2002, imagine how high the numbers would be almost 3 years later! All in all, alcohol has many dangerous short term as well as long term effects on the body. Alcohol has many negative consequences while having very little positive ones. Alcohol is responsible for many crimes inside the home and out, it influences the youth, and it produces many physically ill effects. Alcohol's powerful hold over youth as well as adults has cost society billions of dollars. So, is alcohol the best times or the worst times of life? I'd say the worst.

Works Cited Cambridgeshire Alcohol Advisory Service. "Alcohol-Effects on the Body." Factsheets 1 March 2005.