Irish and Alcohol Abuse
Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior. Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder. (Alcohol Use Disorder, 2018) In this paper I will discuss the impact of alcohol abuse and how it affects the Irish population. The topics that will be discussed are the risks associated with excessive drinking, the complications and impact on our health, and alcohol prevention.
The people of Ireland have had a long standing history with alcohol. It dates back centuries and correlates with the suppression and the poverty in Ireland. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) often seems to run in families, and we may hear about scientific studies of an “alcoholism gene.” (Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder.) Knowing that there is a genetic trait of addiction to alcohol, we are able to follow the ancestral problems that came with Irish Americans. When the Irish migrated due to the mass genocide and famine there was a lot of fear and hope. What awaited these emigrants in the land of promise was poverty worse than anything they had known in Ireland and a seemingly impenetrable wall of racial prejudice and religious discrimination. In North America, alcoholism and chronic drunkenness took a frightful toll on the Irish immigrants in terms of economic failure, pathological family relationships, intimate and public violence, and crime. (O’Connor, 2018.)
Society plays a large part in alcohol abuse not only in Ireland but in America as well. In our American culture drinking is a societal norm. Alcohol is used in many ways in our society. It is used in celebrations, social events, and/or just being with our friends. Drinking alcohol has become a part of people’s lifestyles and it has become almost a taboo if one doesn’t consume alcohol. Students whose parents or older siblings drink more alcohol were more liberal when evaluating their own objective drinking behavior, too, pointing to possible genetic and epigenetic causes of greater use and abuse of alcohol. (Mientka, M., 2013) Peer pressure affects the amount of alcohol consumed by young adults. From work functions to social gatherings, binge drinking is a cultural norm. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it’s OK to drink too much. (Alcohol Use Disorder, 2018)
Because alcohol is legal, the risks aren’t discussed and taught as something that is illegal. Binge drinking culture is huge in Irish Americans. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism External defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. (CDC – Fact Sheets-Binge Drinking – Alcohol., 2018)
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems. There are a variety of diseases that stem from alcohol. Alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, cancers, depression, memory impairment, and alcoholism.
Drinking alcohol over time effects the liver and can cause hepatic steatosis, cirrhosis, fibrosis, hepatitis. When it comes to digestive issues alcohol can cause ulcers in the stomach and the esophagus, and as well as inflammation of the stomach and pancreas. Cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure, enlarged heart, and atrial fibrillation are serious issues that can occur with excessive drinking overtime. You are at higher risk for specific cancers as well. Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a particular type of esophageal cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Alcohol consumption is an independent risk factor for, and a primary cause of, liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). (Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. ) Breast cancer can risk can be raised from moderate drinking.
The CDC has a list of ways to prevent alcohol binge drinking. The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends evidence-based interventions to prevent binge drinking and related harms. Recommended strategies include: Using pricing strategies, including increasing alcohol taxes. Limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets that sell alcoholic beverages in a given area. Holding alcohol retailers responsible for the harms caused by illegal alcohol sales to minors or intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability). Restricting access to alcohol by maintaining limits on the days and hours of alcohol retail sales. Consistently enforcing laws against underage drinking and alcohol-impaired driving. Maintaining government controls on alcohol sales (avoiding privatization). Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse. (CDC – Fact Sheets-Binge Drinking – Alcohol., 2018)
The prevention of alcohol abuse can lead to a better lifestyle. Health promotion and disease prevention are what the Healthy People 2020 initiative is about. As nurses we need to be able to educate our clients about the damaging effects of alcohol and how to prevent it from happening. Our interpersonal skills are also to be used when treating a patient who is suffering from alcohol abuse. Treating the person as a whole and not just what they came to the hospital for is very key for treating them. A holistic nurse recognizes and integrates the principles and modalities of holistic healing into daily life and clinical practice. (Klebanoff, N., 2017)In order for a nurse to care for someone with a substance abuse problem we need to be able to incorporate their daily life and routine into our care plans for them.
- Alcohol use disorder. (2018, July 11). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243
- Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
- CDC – Fact Sheets-Binge Drinking – Alcohol. (2018, October 24). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
- Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders/genetics-alcohol-use-disorders
- Hhs. (n.d.). Preventing Drug Abuse and Excessive Alcohol Use. Retrieved from https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/prevention/strategy/preventing-drug-abuse-excessive-alcohol-use.html
- Klebanoff, N. (2017, November 06). Holistic nursing: Focusing on the whole person. Retrieved from https://www.americannursetoday.com/holistic-nursing-focusing-on-the-whole-person/
- O’Connor, G. (2018, April 11). Breaking the Code of Silence: The Irish and Drink. Retrieved from https://irishamerica.com/2012/01/breaking-the-code-of-silence-the-irish-and-drink/
- Mientka, M. (2013, June 19). Study Examines Why Heavy Drinking Is So Popular in Irish Culture.https://www.medicaldaily.com/study-examines-why-heavy-drinking-so-popular-irish-culture-246961″