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Stress And Alcohol Essay, Research Paper

In the world today, many people have some sort of stressor pertaining to their home life or even their job. Seventy-five percent of the general population experiences at least “some stress” every two weeks (National Health Interview Survey), and half of those, experience moderate or high levels of stress during the same two-week period. Most of these individuals seek refuge in the worlds most common and legal drug, Alcohol. They also may not see it, that is, their stress may contribute to the development of alcoholism. This is because alcoholism is usually a slow process affecting the person.

Everyone has their own definition of alcoholism, yet all have one thing in common; it is a disorder. But what is the real definition of alcoholism, and why do many people become affected with this ever-growing disease? Alcoholism is a disease in which the affected individual is addicted to alcohol. One sign of an alcoholic is that they may not drink for months or even years, but when they do, they have difficulty stopping. This is the only sure sign of an alcoholic, a consistent lack of control. Many use alcohol to boost self-confidence and to relax around others. They may drink to forget problems or to relieve stress. There have been poems and scenes in plays that show that consuming alcohol is a great way to forget about the stress. The Greek poet Alcaeus suggested drinking as a way to cope with distress and even Shakespeare in a scene in his play Julius Caesar [Alcohol research and Health v23 no. 4: 1999; pg250-5]. As the alcoholism progresses, they may begin having financial, work, or family problems. An alcoholic may get drunk without planning to and make promises to limit or stop drinking, but fail. They may also lie about their drinking, sneak drinks at work or school, have blackouts, go through personality changes, or drink in the morning to cure a hangover.

Many people are especially ignorant when it comes to alcoholism and stress. They just believe that if a person drinks too much, they are alcoholics, and never even thinks to question the reason why a person drinks so heavily. We stereotype the homeless as being drunk constantly, having a bottle of alcohol wrapped in a brown paper bag. We call them bums. We also see on TV shows/talk shows, portly men looking disheveled, with old clothing sitting on a rundown couch with a beer in his trailer. And we call him a slob. But we never would think of the executive of a large corporation as an alcoholic. We never consider the fact that different types jobs may have a strong effect on the individual with its stressors, whether he s a blue-collar laborer, or a white-collar executive.

The first journal reviewed in this study of stress and Alcoholism, is by Akihito Hagihara, Kimio Tarumi, and Alan S. Miller, entitled Work stressors and alcohol consumption among white-collar workers: a signal detection approach; 2000. Here, the researchers wanted to find the relationships between the stress a person experiences at his job and the quantity of alcohol he consumes. The researchers has to find what types of stressful jobs that impact the individual subjecting him to alcohol.

The methodology of the research started with the finding of 465 Japanese male white-collar workers at the head office of a Steel company. Only 397 of them were used because there was evidence of missing data that may interfere with the study. To the remaining subjects, a questionnaire was given to them, asking about their job position (which had four categories to describe what their position was: staff member, lower class manager, middle class manager, and higher class manager [Journal of Studies on Alcohol v 61 no3 May 2000:462-5]) at the factory, and the stressors that relate to them. Some of these stressors included by the participants were: [Journal of Studies on Alcohol v 61 no3 May 2000:462-5] feeling time pressure, work requires advance skills and sophisticated knowledge, purpose or goal of a job is not clear, and work needs to be done quickly. The research also included how much alcohol each subject consumed on weekly basis (scores of 23.29 or more are defined as heavy drinker and less than 23.29 were moderate drinkers).

After all the questionnaires were handed back, the participants were grouped then regrouped into subgroups. The primary groups were consisted on their job position (staff member, lower class manager, middle class manager, and higher class manager), of which became the best variable because once the researcher started narrowing down the groups the research became distorted since the number of subjects in the newly divide groups became too small. Also there was limitation to the study such as they could not entirely authenticate the stress measure, and they did not compare their finding of stress and alcohol consumption with other research on the same or similar topic.

Researcher found that the groups of the heaviest drinkers were made up of middle class manager, and higher-class manager of which work requires no advance skills and sophisticated knowledge. This may be the fact that they are the one s have to control what all the employees are doing and keep all financial reports on the company up to date. Mostly what they have to do are the tedious task that have to be done right away. The next group of heaviest drinkers was consisted of middle class manager, and higher-class manager of which work DOES requires advance skills and sophisticated knowledge. They might be the ones that have to keep the computer systems up to date and machinery in order. Down the line are the staff member, lower class manager who has the feeling of time pressure yet their purpose or goal of a job is clear. The last two groups that were the least heaviest drinkers of alcohol were: staff member, lower class manager who has the feeling of time pressure and their purpose or goal of a job is not clear; finally staff member, lower class manager who has no feeling of time pressure. A flaw to this research is the findings about what the subjects job position was meant to do.

The research was successful in categorizing the different stressors (that were announced in the study), which influenced drinking alcohol, with the individual s job position. It showed us that the higher-class workers have more stress related alcohol influence than the others. Though even the subcategories didn t make it clear why the higher class were more susceptible to heavy drinking than the lower classes.

This next journal is by Michael A. Sayette entitled; Does drinking reduce stress? wants to find out just what the title says. All of us at one point or another have consumed alcohol just after some sort of stressor. Like most teens, they may drink right after a enormous exam, and adults may drink after that day of hell at the office.

The author starts his research on his hypothesis of two parts; whether the consumption of alcohol really does reduce stress, or does the stress provoke consumption of alcohol, since many people think that the consumption of alcohol reduces stress. He first explains the different ways stress may affect an individual. This part may not be entirely correct since each individual will retort to the same stressor in dissimilar ways, biological and mental. He will have to identify the people whom alcohol is most like to reduce stress and the circumstances under which alcohol consumption is most effective in reducing stress.

The researcher uses individual characteristic, such as if the person is vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. He broke down the subject into four parts: family history of alcoholism, personality traits, self consciousness, level of cognitive functioning (which means how a person processes new information entering the brain), and gender.

In this study he found that children of alcoholics were more susceptible to become alcoholics because of their generational histories of alcoholism in their family. Though other studies have found the family history is irreverent because some families with history of alcoholism were not influenced by the effect of alcohol. Only families with an extensive history of alcoholism were proven that the offspring became prone to the effect of Alcohol. Another flaw besides conflicting studies, was that the research was done with people of drinking age. Many individuals that are at greatest risk for developing alcoholism may be ineligible for study participation because they have already developed a pathological drinking pattern before the age of 21 (pg. 2).

Other findings were from personality traits. The people that had a hard time controlling their behavioral pattern had an prominent risk of becoming an alcoholic. People that were highly self-conscious (constantly evaluating themselves) had a high amount of stress, and were subjected to the effect of alcohol. The next research was on cognitive functioning. A Person with low cognitive functioning had a high effect of alcohol. In most of the studies in gender, both male and female had similar responses to effects on alcohol.

For the last part, the author, he broke down his research to two situational factors. One of the factors was if distraction had any effects to the response of alcohol. He found that if a person had a positive distraction (like drinking at a party) the subject had a lower SDR effect, than drinking alone at a bar or home. Another factor was the timing of drinking and stress. If the subject consumes alcohol before a stressor, the SDR effect will be more likely than if the subject consumer it after the stress related experience.

In conclusion to this journal, the author found that alcohol may be effective in reducing stress (pg. 5) with the factors he listed, like their heredity, and personal traits. Though, in other studies he researched, the effects of Alcohol had either increased, decreased or even had no effect at all on the level of a subject s stress. And by this statement, brought the conclusion that the author was neither successful nor unsuccessful.

The last journal studied is by Kathleen T. Brady and Susan C. Sonne, entitled The Role of Stress in Alcohol use, alcoholism treatment, and relapse. Here they study the biological effects of alcohol on stress and vice versa. They also want to know why and how, from other research done, alcohol reduces stress, and is it true that it does.

To start off their research, they use lab animals, and put them under different kinds of stressful situations, such as restricting their movement, and/or putting them in a cage with another animal not of it s species (protected of course by a metal screen between them. Some biological systems begin to activate due to the stressful situation put upon them. Most importantly in the research with these animals are the chemical abnormality in the brain. One problem with this investigation is, studying lab animals was done easier because, a definitive exploration of this connection (alcohol influences on stress) in humans has been more difficult, since that the subject can only recall certain situations, due to the affects of alcohol.

Some findings by the researcher s proved that there is a direct connection between the time alcohol has been consumed and a stressor initiated on the subject. Also, the consumption of alcohol by the rats had interfered with their ability to adapt to frequent stress. Stress in humans often leads to craving, and craving, in turn, frequently results in relapse (pg. 4). Chronic stressors, such as job stress, may lead into the development of alcoholism.

Stress management is the key to reduce a persons level of chance to becoming an alcoholic. As the studies with the lab rats showed, the ones put under the most stress and given alcohol are prone to adapt, to consume more alcohol later on

In conclusion to this study, all the journals had one thing in common, that is, they all stated that stress had a large effect on a person to consume alcohol. There are many factors that derive from stress that pose a threat of alcoholism on each of the subjects. Mainly job stress poses one of the greatest threats. The first journal shows that that higher the position, the higher the stress. Since, the stress increases the person may be more at risk to the affects of alcohol. This was shown by the last journal, with the lab rats. Though for humans, we know the consequences of alcohol, which we may contaminate genetically, and therefore are at risk of alcoholism. Why do most humans still drink to reduce stress? As stated in the second journal reviewed, there is a folk tale saying that alcohol does reduce stress. Then what is too much? Too much stress. Too much alcohol. They go by hand in hand. We wonder which is the primary cause of the other. If a wealthy man starts to drink heavily, does he start to have problem, such as, occupational, social, legal, or financial. Or does any of those problems listed cause the person to drink heavily. There is still more research out there needed to determine what stressor effect a person to become an alcoholic.

Bibliography: The Wilsondisk for Windows 4.0

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