Sunday, June 30, 2013

High Spirits...

Just the other day, during a cordial discussion with some colleagues, out of just plain curiosity I asked what it is that makes people want to drink (consume alcohol).

I didn’t know that my pretty harmless question would evolve into a considerably animated (and occasionally heated) argument. I had barely completed my question when someone made a statement – “A person who drinks has no character”.

Obviously, the debate intensified several notches after that comment as there were bound to be counter arguments for and against alcoholism, but my original question got lost in the process.

As far as logic goes, terms like addiction, dependence, etc. can be used to explain why a person tends to indulge in alcoholism on a regular basis. But I wonder what exactly is it that causes him or her to get addicted in the first place. What exactly does a person experience after consuming alcohol ?

As far as I’ve heard and known from common knowledge, alcohol gives a sense of being in an enhanced pleasurable state. Scientifically, alcohol intake acutely increases dopamine levels in the brain. So it is logical why some people turn towards alcohol when they are depressed. And it may also explain why some normal people consume alcohol when they want to experience even more pleasure, or maybe a state of euphoria.

Also, I don’t think a person’s character has much to do with what he or she consumes. Getting addicted to alcohol (or for that matter, even some other food or drink) may be related to a person’s will power or the lack of it. So, it is likely that a person gives in to the temptation to get on a high after consuming alcohol.

But the difference between getting addicted to alcohol and getting addicted to a McDonald’s burger is that one doesn’t lose his or her senses after consuming a delicious burger even though he may experience a sense of increased pleasure too.

A person may get a ‘kick’ after consuming whatever he or she likes. It may be a pizza, a chocolate, a coke, a dosa, a jalebi, a mango shake or whatever. And many times, certain food stuffs have their own adverse effects on the body. But what they don’t do is that they do not affect the person’s mental state (which alcohol notoriously does).

So isn’t it actually that deranged cognitive state (with decreased inhibitions and increased sense of pleasure) which people seek by consuming alcohol ?

I have even heard people talk of wanting to ‘try it once’ just for the sake of experiencing that strange cognitive state. Well, such a wish may be quite harmless if a person wants to try it out just once. I don’t think a single episode of alcohol intake will result in any serious medical effect on one’s body.

But people tend to forget that even a single episode of being ‘under the influence’ can have ever-lasting physical and social effects if the person is drunk beyond being capable of controlling his or her actions.   

If people wish to indulge in alcohol just to be in a false and pleasurable cognitive state, even if it destroys their body slowly, they should be free to do so as long as they don’t bother others by their actions or words.

But as far as I’m concerned, I have enough reasons to keep myself in a state of euphoria than to resort to methods that create a false sense of pleasure.

"We drink to each other's healths...
And spoil our own !!!"

Image courtesy : Google Images

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