Alcohol Vignette

Tom has been arrested twice for Driving Under the Influence or DUI of alcohol, and in his most recent arrest, he has also been charged with assault of a law enforcement officer which is specifically a display of seemingly violent behavior since assault involves physical attack or onslaught.

Tom’s blood alcohol level or BAL taken when he was arrested was 0.18 which was identified as the blood level for illegal intoxication (Hamilton, 2007). Aside from Tom’s BAL as indicator of his intoxication, he also admitted to forgetting what had transpired, his pupils were dilated, his speech was mildly impaired, and he displayed lethargic behavior. Assessing Tom’s situation was taken under the context of his claim that the case only happens during social gatherings with family and friends, not motivated by problems and such.

Considering the circumstances presented, I would have to say that Tom is an alcohol abuser based on the guidelines set by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. An alcohol abuser is described as an individual who drinks alcohol in a manner that is harmful or hazardous to one’s health. (Buddy, 2008)
Since Tom’s memory, speech, and physical functioning was affected by his high levels of alcohol intake, he fits into the category of an alcohol abuser. Another characteristic established and attributed to alcohol abusers include the non-dependence on alcohol.
Alcohol abusers do not show strong cravings or dependence toward drinking. (“What is Alcohol Abuse?,” 2003) Basing it on Tom’s claim of having been drinking only after the holidays and during social gatherings, it clearly reveals that he does not exhibit strong cravings and dependence toward alcohol intoxication.
Other characteristics of alcohol abusers that might be exhibited during a year-round observation includes recurrent apprehension for being caught due to reasons pertaining to alcohol, and other offenses that are fueled by alcohol intoxication (ex. assault, etc.), and drinking without control or setting limitations despite having legal problems (ex. DUI arrests, etc.) in the past that were related to alcohol intoxication. (“What is Alcohol Abuse?,” 2003)
Aside from the standards or guidelines that determines between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, there are other standards established over the years that are used to categorize drinking patterns or problems – specifically, Type I and Type II alcoholism, and Type A and B alcoholism.
Type I alcoholism is attributed to alcoholism for both the male and female populations that occurs in the latter ages of life with noticeably less serious effects or implications, specifically with actions or behaviors that are related to anti-social behavior or misdemeanor. Type II alcoholism on the other hand, is isolated to the male population that starts at an early age with serious effects and implications, particularly when it comes to the display of anti-social behavior or misdemeanor. (Johnson, 1996)
Type A and Type B alcoholism are based on standards or guidelines that relate the magnitude or gravity of alcoholism to an individuals childhood background, time of use, dependence on alcohol, use of illegal drugs, and the efficiency of treatment.
Alcoholics under Type A are those who started drinking in the latter part of their lives, with no known or minor emotional or psychological problems in their childhood, lesser dependence on alcohol and problems or issues that are related to intoxication. On the other hand, alcoholics under Type B are those who have experienced emotional or psychological problems in their younger years, have family members who are also alcoholic, greatly dependent on alcohol, and more alcohol-related problems. (Babor, et. al., 1992)
Based on the above descriptions of Type I and Type II, and Type A and Type B alcoholism, Tom is more likely to be categorized as an alcohol abuser under Type II and Type B in progress.
This is supported by the fact that Tom is starting to follow a pattern of alcoholism that leads him to become publicly arrested for being illegally intoxicated. Moreover, Tom has already displayed violent behavior towards a law enforcement officer, which he claims he does not recall. Since he was already arrested in the past for a DUI, and he was arrested again for the same offense, he refuses to acknowledge his drinking problem and the harmful effects that it poses to his health and safety as well as the safety of other people.
2. Tom mentioned that he does not remember anything that happened while he was intoxicated, which obviously means that his being drunk is affecting his memory. Moreover, he displays mild speech impairment as well as lethargic behavior or demeanor.
The implications of such admissions and overt behavior lead to the conjecture that there is something wrong with Tom, particularly the functioning of his Central Nervous System or CNS. The CNS is composed of an individual’s brain, spinal column, and nerves or neurons. In general, drinking alcohol of any amount affects the CNS. However, it is the amount of alcohol which determines how strong or overpowering its effect would be to the physical and cognitive functioning of a human being.  (Dunlap, N.D.)
Naturally, when an individual drinks too much alcohol, its effects would also be greater on the functioning of his CNS. Since the CNS is capable of handling the senses and the impulses which governs an individual’s thoughts and actions. As an individual continues to drink alcohol, the CNS also continues to depreciate causing irreversible or irreparable damage to an individual’s CNS functioning.
Apparently, the content of alcohol which goes directly to an individual’s CNS, blocks out the circulation of oxygen to and from the brain which causes a temporary blackout blurring or blocking one’s memory. Once the alcohol dissipates from the body, the circulation of oxygen in the brain normalizes, as well as an individual’s memory. This means that once an individual becomes a habitual drinker, his memory as governed by the functioning of his brain, and his impulses or senses as managed by his nerves and neurons, become permanently damaged by alcohol. (Dunlap, N.D.)
The kind of behavior displayed by Tom is clear signs of CNS impairments or disabilities caused by his intake of alcohol. For instance, Cerebellar Atrophy is a condition associated to a part of the brain called the cerebellum, wherein an individual’s intake of alcohol causes an imbalance or disturbance in one’s muscle coordination. Cerebellar Atrophy will affect an individual’s balance as well as walking movements.
This particular CNS condition explains why Tom’s actions or movements are lethargic or sluggish since he had trouble balancing, walking, or moving at a normal pace. Another condition related to alcohol and the CNS is the Korsakoff’s Amnesic Syndrome. This particular syndrome has something to do with an individual’s memory. If an individual develops high dependency on alcohol and takes in alcohol that is more than the amount of normal intake, contracting Korsakoff’s Amnesic Syndrome will lead to losses in short-term memory. (“Alcohol Related Brain Impairment,” 2008)
One factor which affects the length of time by which alcohol lingers inside the body, therefore, shortening or prolonging the harmful and incapacitating effects of alcohol to an individuals CNS is his metabolism. Metabolism is a process that occurs within the body which converts substances and other chemical compounds that are readily excreted from the human body.
The process constitutes the contribution of the liver in the oxidization process which normalizes the amount of oxygen in the blood stream, including the brain. If the oxidization process is normal, then the rate of an individual’s return to consciousness is normal.
However, the rate of the oxidization process as well as the metabolizing enzymes found in the liver is greatly affected by alcohol. Large amounts of alcohol intake will lead to the damage of an individual’s liver which will consequently influence metabolism rate, making it difficult for the liver to dissipate alcohol from the human body prolonging the effects of alcohol to an individual’s brain functioning. (“Alcohol and The Human Body,” N.D.)
Since the effect of Tom’s alcohol intake was observable prior to his arrest which motivated a DUI charge until the time that he was apprehended, displaying bouts of memory loss, speech impairment, and lethargy, this means that the rate of his metabolism is not capable of flushing out alcohol from his system and normalizing his bodily functions through immediate oxidization.
From this, we learn that Tom is an alcoholic who have been drinking alcohol either for a long time or in large amounts which is enough to interfere with his metabolism.
Tom’s stated case or situation and gathered information pertaining to the simultaneous intake of certain drugs such as Marijuana, Valium and other types of downers, and alcohol will be used to identify whether he used downers along with alcohol or not. Again, observable behaviors that may be utilized to answer such inquiry include his sudden loss of short-term memory, the dilation of his pupils, mild speech impairment, and lethargic behavior or demeanor.
First, we need to understand the results or effects of drinking downers along with alcohol, differentiating it from the symptoms of alcoholism alone. Downers or depressants are intended for decreasing brain functioning or activity within the individual’s CNS in order to ease anxieties, worries, tensions, stresses, and such.
Downers or depressants are appropriately prescribed for individuals who need to calm down as a means of moderating psychological tension. Since the intake of alcohol seems to display similarities to the effects of downers, the intake of alcohol and downers or depressants at the same time magnifies the effects or results of each when taken separately.

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