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Understanding the science of addiction

Mount Vernon Plantation
The Alcohol Exposed Foundation is located in Monroe County Mississippi.



For their entire lives, our young people have been indoctrinated with the advertising and mystique. We present the science behind these dynamic chemicals of abuse. Recent research and procedures in the medical sciences have provided the opportunity for very effective training regarding alcohol and substance abuse. Our young people are better educated today, and are receptive, even curious about scientific material relating to the body and mind. The youth of today have been raised in the computer age with their minds constantly stimulated and challenged. The Alcohol Exposed training takes advantage of these factors in educating young adults about the effects of alcohol and substance abuse. The following piece will provide further insight into our methods and objectives. Please contact us with your thoughts and input, and thank you for your involvement.

A New Approach to an Old Problem
( Published: "American Police Beat" May, 2001)

To know police work is to know the effects of ethyl alcohol on otherwise civil, responsible and even personable individuals. To walk into a home liberally littered with beer cans to discover, in the task of crisis management, that this is the world of a small child - or several - is common for police officers. They know, and even evaluate, the long-term effects of alcohol as daily they help those on our streets with alcohol dementia, depression, homelessness and even hypothermia. Sadly, a police officer in any modern American city will not be on the job for long before he walks into the scene of a suicide, and with the most cursory of preliminary investigation, discovers that alcohol was indeed a contributing factor. Police officers have a front row seat at alcohols tragic play as it is performed with regularity in every social group. When armed with the current scientific knowledge available, they and the society they serve could mount a substantial defense to alcohol abuse, by exposing the true chemical and biological nature of alcohol.

Does firsthand on-the-scene awareness of the consequences of alcohol consumption save police officers from its destructive power? Of course not. We, like many others, are not persuaded by the misadventures of those unfortunate souls addicted to alcohol with whom we come into contact each day. Police departments everywhere have close experience with the calamity, depression and tragedy brought to their own respected ranks by a chemical known as C2H5OH, ethyl alcohol.

It was late summer, 1999. A mid-sized city in Northern Virginia had received a call for police service regarding people living in the cellar of a vacant home on a main thoroughfare at the south end of Olde Towne. A senior officer arrived and began walking around the Victorian home which had been converted for use as an upscale boutique and jewelry shop. He noticed at least four empty bottles of a green mouthwash, lying on the ground near the colonial style exterior cellar entrance. They appeared to have been very recently discarded, so he picked one up, engaged the now necessary services of the reading glasses hanging on his shirt, and read with some surprise that the label boasted an ethyl alcohol content of 21.6%. When his backup unit arrived, they opened up the cellar entrance, and out walked two of the most sweet smelling, springtime fresh, but filthy and emphatically inebriated souls that had ever graced the streets. As the senior officer drove them to the detox center, he reflected that the aroma in the cruiser was a definite improvement over the usual in such situations, and felt blessed, but left the windows open anyway. As is the case with most acute and chronic alcoholics, the two gentlemen whom he met and assisted on that day were easy to handle and apologetic for the circumstances in which they were found.

Constant on-duty exposure to this group of unfortunate people provides ample motivation to promote a tool of prevention. Many of these people are good, personable and otherwise trustworthy individuals, and it is common to find prior professionals among them. The use of mouthwash to quell the insatiable need for alcohol is not well known, but research reveals that it is quite common and in practice especially among people who must drink in a work environment where aroma can compromise the secret. The thought of a social drink becoming a personal habit and subsequently growing into such an overpowering burden and addictive lifestyle is enough to make any parent angry. Our children deserve more effective alcohol awareness training.

Most people can recall someone in their youth attempting to warn them about strong drink. He or she could have been an officer visiting a school, scout troop or church youth group. A typical indoctrination may have begun in this manner. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce to you a substance which, if taken internally, is known to produce clouded judgment, torn families, abused spouses and children, numerous diseases, acute depression and more fatalities by accident than all of the wars of mankind combined. Pretty powerful dialogue on the surface, but for the most part, impersonal and, therefore ineffective. He was talking about somebody else, not his audience. The audience typically felt that none of that could happen to them, for a multitude of reasons, They all knew people who drank, and most were not like that [they believed]. Besides, everybody drinks, and it's not illegal!

Many of them had experienced, in their adventurous youth, the graphic gastro-intestinal power of alcohol as they typically ingested too much too soon. Their natural physiological survival mechanism automatically engaged, and the result is still with them to this day. It all came roaring back up with far more power than when it went down. The esophageal lining in the throat was effectively stripped away and the pain will forever be clear in their memory. These life experiences are said to be valuable as people reach maturity and learn from them. But it must be noted that the bio-chemical lesson that was learned was a personal message indeed!

What, then, does the police profession have to offer our teens and young adults to effectively impress upon them the ease with which they can fall prey to Ethyl Alcohol, the chemical predator? There is a recent approach to training in the field of alcohol safety that is based upon scientific fact, has intellectual appeal and is a very personal message, not about other people. and not about the chances of alcoholism. Anyone owning a human body and who is responsible for the maintenance and longevity of it will have their inquisitive nature aroused by facts relating to their body and its scientific interaction with ethyl alcohol.

In delivering this message to young people in both academic and industrial environments, it has been noted that rarely has a participant never experienced alcohol consumption. Each participants personal experience and knowledge of their bodys reaction to alcohol is an important asset to this presentation of related biological and chemical facts. Participants minimally possess tenth grade fundamentals of chemistry and biology. They are adults and young adults, therefore there is no attempt to convince anyone to abstain from drinking. This personal decision is considered private.

When presented with the fact that alcohol has a strong and infinite attraction to water, and when consumed the mouth is left dry, and there is a burning sensation in the throat during swallowing, most participants know from firsthand experience how true this is. From this point, holding their attention is not difficult. As alcohols attraction to water is put into play and alcohols attack on various body organs is explored, the participant has a basic foundation of knowledge which facilitates further understanding. When asking why just 2 or 3 ounces of liquor can cause the need to urinate within a short period of time, many participants can surmise that alcohols water attracting properties are significant when inside their body. Participants follow the travels of alcohol throughout the body, as it attracts and blends with water wherever finding it, distributing itself throughout the body organs and tissues in direct proportion to their water content, bringing water to the bloodstream and finally to the kidneys and liver for elimination. They learn that this affinity for water works in concert with alcohols neutralizing effect upon the brains pituitary gland, which is responsible for regulating the retention of water in the body. Alcohols diuretic power has thus been unveiled. From the rate of metabolic elimination through the properties of alcohol and the seven stages of alcohol intoxication, alcohols true identity is exposed, undeniably, and is individually contemplated. Participants are presented with the death of germs on skin when a nurse uses an alcohol swab to cleanse an area prior to inserting a syringe. At this point many have already correctly concluded that the germs die as alcohol robs them of their moisture. Interaction and participation in the room is usually at a high level at this point, and the understanding of the true power of alcohol is imminent. Some participants personally know friends or family members who have been diagnosed with dehydration following a drinking binge. Now they can understand why the root word of intoxication is toxic!? At this point in the program, exploring the effect of alcohol upon brain cells becomes a natural transition and a stimulating topic of discussion.

The euphoric affect of alcohol upon the brain is one of the reasons for consuming it, but beyond this, the average person knows very little about alcohols impact upon the brain. We know that alcohol is a depressant to the central nervous system from the very first drink, and we know that the abilities to perform reasoning and judgments, including those in the areas of caution, inhibitions, common sense and analytical capabilities, are also depressed in proportion to alcohol intake, but the impact here is specific for each individual. Any officer involved in the fine art of hostage negotiations knows that time consuming strategy is often required in an effort to decrease the blood alcohol content of the perpetrator to a range in which his ability to reason surfaces from an alcohol-induced fog. Alcohol affects many cellular sites and processes in the brain, unlike drugs which work through a single receptor, but these sites and processes, including neurotransmitter receptors, intracellular mechanisms and gene expression, although fascinating, are considered too detailed and time consuming to address in the basic alcohol safety presentation.

Evaluations of these presentations by the participants have been encouraging. Many have expressed a positive personal reaction to the material at the close of the program. It was, after all, their body which was explored. The principal goal is to plant a seed of learning, and water it to some degree, and requests for E.A.P. assistance from employees with alcohol problems have been experienced as an immediate result of this training. Clearly, this program can assist in illuminating an impending alcohol problem to those who are inspired toward personal evaluation.

The consumption of alcohol is indeed an ancient custom which has been a traditional tool for stress relief, recreation and a catalyst for social interaction. But for those who see and experience the resulting human sacrifices and calamities day to day, education of young people becomes critical. For ages, mankind has practiced the use of dangerous naturally occurring drugs in ceremonial ritual, now outlawed and exposed as exceedingly dangerous. The United States identified its social drinking problem years ago, and Prohibition was born. Ethyl Alcohol won that battle, as it exhibited its ominous powers of attraction and addiction countrywide, with force sufficient to bring the resolve of the federal government to its knees.

But there are some for whom the battle still rages. Police officers face and deal with the consequences of alcoholism regularly, and it has a lasting impact upon them. They see far too many children living a distorted or even devastated childhood due to an alcoholic environment. When they choose to fight back, the most formidable weapon in the arsenal is education. The widespread methodical learning of the true scientific identity and characteristics of alcohol can begin a slow yet inevitable control of this most menacing weapon against mankind, which has so effectively transformed personalities, tormented adults and terrorized their children for thousands of years. Individual reactions to this teaching method are often exciting for a police officer to observe.

International research involving consumption of ethyl alcohol is ongoing at the time of this writing. Through recent genetic research, knowledge of personal and family alcoholic tendencies appears promising. There is much about alcohols addictive power that is not yet known. A wealth of scientific information regarding alcohol consumption will undoubtedly be revealed by doctors and scientists in years to come. It will always be their work which is used to assist youth in making personal decisions regarding alcohol, but the training function, in keeping with tradition, will often fall to police departments. As they unfailingly reveal the personal bio-chemical facts regarding alcohol consumption to each generation, our descendants will naturally make responsible decisions, armed with the knowledge necessary to control their alcohol before it controls them!

Tom Tazelaar, Jr. is a retired police officer of 31 years. His credentials and experience eminate from the State of Virginia, Department of Forensic Science, Breath Alcohol Program. He provides expert testimony on alcohol-related matters in court systems, and has provided alcohol / substance abuse prevention presentations in the Washington Metropolitan area since 1993.