Dr. Jekyll's Potion

The powerful control of alcohol can cause even the calmest people the Dr. Jekylls to morph into violent, out-of-control Mr. Hydes. Though in a few cases, a person can be more fun-loving, easy-going and enjoyable when under the influence, most are transformed into a violent, uncontrolled mutation of themselves. This shift in personality can be attributed to both physical and emotional stimuli that often accompany alcohol.

Both the abuser and the abused are often prepared with reasons to defend an alcoholic's behavior "He didn't know what he was doing;" "She has a loose tongue when she's drunk;" "I'm sorry, my husband's not usually like this." But these excuses fall short when the alcoholic's actions are socially unacceptable or damaging to those around him. Though the drunk person's conduct is likely a physical reaction to alcohol consumption, his actions often still lead to serious consequences.

Nearly half of all violent crimes happen under the influence.1 Eighty-six percent of people who committed murder were drinking at the time of the offense, according to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Of those who committed sexual offenses, 60 percent are reported to have been drinking. This is followed closely by the 57 percent of men who abused their wives and 37 percent of assault offenders.2

One study suggests that increasing the beer tax by only 10 percent would potentially reduce the rate of murder, rape and robbery.3Disagreements about drinking habits, especially during the first years of marriage, frequently set the scene for arguments that lead to abuse.4In 1999, 30 percent of deaths in auto accidents totaling around 15,000 deaths were caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.5

The stereotypical western movie bar scene with drunk men knocking over tables and drawing guns, though dramatized, could be considered a somewhat accurate picture of the physical effects of alcohol. Even when sober, testosterone levels rise when a man feels threatened; when drunk, men struggle with the interpretation of stimuli all the more, often overreacting and leading to violence. Publicly, this can lead to "making a scene" with verbal or physical violence. Within marriage, this action and reaction scenario can lead to physical abuse if the male feels threatened by his spouse.

Women seem less predisposed to violence when drinking, yet alcohol still taxes a woman's emotions. Since alcohol is a depressant, it breeds a deeper sense of hopelessness, loneliness and futility. The sadistic result of alcohol on women, then, is much more covert, attacking a woman's identity and sense of worth. She begins seeking to find happiness and worth in things like random sexual encounters and dysfunctional relationships; alcohol is a catalyst to this unhappiness, entrapping her in the endless cycle of seeking fulfillment in the wrong places. All too often, a woman who is addicted to alcohol is one person in public energetic, seductive and capable but she truly lives a closet life full of disappointment and despair.

Many people try to drown their sorrows in alcohol, expecting it to lessen their inhibitions and alleviate stress. Instead, it often leaves a trail of problems that begin with the first drink, follow you home and invade and overwhelm your life.

1 http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa38-text.htm
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 http://alcoholism.about.com/library/weekly/aa000728a.htm
5 http://alcoholism.about.com/library/blnaa31.htm

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