Alcoholism: the effects from a biopsychology perspective

Subject: Health Care
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According to the article under the title “Alcohol’s Effects on Brain and Behavior”, research of brain functions within the problem of alcoholism have achieved great results in the last 40 years. For example, studies have shown the possible damage that occurs in the brain as a consequence of alcoholism. The authors of this article examine neuropsychological effects of dependence on alcohol, which allowed to determine the understanding of the development problems and possible courses of action, to which matured could be useful in the process of recovery of the brain and the body. The study aims to analyze the memory components, problems of visual-spatial orientation, motor system, and cognitive dependent control. In addition, the article discusses the pathology of the brain due to alcohol with the help of modern technologies, such as pneumoencephalography to computed tomography, diffusion tensor imaging and functional MRI, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which made possible a detailed study of the structure and functions of the brain during different stages alcohol dependence (Sullivan E.V., Harris R.A., and Pfefferbaum A., 2010, p.133). These techniques allow the study to bring the effects of alcohol on the brain to a new level.

Since 1960, the research has been aimed to study the results and the ethical issues associated with the use of ethanol in patients with alcohol dependence, conducted (Dolinsky Z.S. and Babor T.F., 1997, p.1987). The study “Ethical, Scientific and Clinical Issues in Ethanol Administration Research Involving Alcoholics as Human Subjects” has shown that the introduction of ethanol as part of medical research has helped considerably in the last decade to study the effects of alcohol on the brain and the body, depending on the mechanism and understanding of scientific methods of treatment of alcohol dependence. Thus, the use of ethanol for research is ethically justified, depending, as it brings results, which can help greatly improve the approach in the treatment of addiction. However, such research should include respect for patients and fair treatment during the study.

Also, due to the fact that in recent years, studies on the issue of alcoholism and its effects on the brain and the mind are held in a large amount, the question of ethics is very relevant. The study of ethical issues that arise while working with addicted patients emphasizes that while such studies problems such as the confidentiality of patients, the issue of professionalism in making decisions about treatment, the patient’s consent to the ongoing procedures, the link between research and clinical practice, professional qualifications and others (Scott C.G., 2000, p.209-2011). These questions are relevant for the consultants since studies of this issue continue to evolve. Engaging in such research involves understanding the ethical issues and knowledge of federal laws and regulations related to this issue.

Neurobiology is aimed at the study of the brain, but it does not affect in the desired degree of psychological and social factors that are included in the issue of alcoholism (Buchman F.Z., 2007, p.1). These factors play an important role in understanding the structure and functioning of the brain, especially under the influence of alcohol and drug addiction. The article “Neglecting the Social System: Clinical Neuroimaging and the Biological Reductionism of Addiction” argues that in order to study the dependence is not enough to scan the brain; the study of these external factors is also significant. This raises the question of how to interpret the dependence associated with clinical endophenotypes. For example, it may be difficult to interpret endophenotype responsible for genetic predisposition alcoholic. Thus, it is important for the investigation to find an approach to the patient and to take into account different environmental conditions (Buchman F.Z., 2007, p.2-3). Depression and a family history of alcohol use can lead to alcoholism, but this is not guaranteed and should be studied also at a biological level.

Research of the influence of alcohol on the brain has begun in the 1970s, but the available technology at the time did not allow to draw conclusions that are available modern medicine. Neurobiology was not developed as a science, and not enough external factors into account during the investigation (Sullivan E.V., Harris R.A., and Pfefferbaum A., 2010, p.128). Behavioral, genetic and biological studies of the structure and functioning of the brain sex influence alcoholism have increased considerably over the users distinguish these decades and allowed to see the overall picture of the problem. Thus there are ethical issues related to the conduct of such research, which play a significant role in the continuation of the study of the issue. Despite the fact that the initial data from the first study were quite primitive, they gave a push and a basic knowledge in the development of investigations, alcohol and its effects on the human brain, as well as the ethical issues associated with this study. Thus, as the technologies of the research of the brain continue to improve, there are more studies on the effect of alcohol dependence in the brain, but also makes it possible to find more detailed results and causes of addiction, as well as a more detailed consideration of the impact on the structure and functioning of the brain. This development will enable the research to explore in more detail and to create ways to treat, adaptation and ethical approach to the patient (Buchman F.Z., 2007, p.3). Undoubtedly, over the past 40 years, the study of alcoholism and understanding its impact on the structure and functioning of the brain in terms of neurobiology stepped far forward. This is due to the numerous research and new technologies. A better understanding of dependence has created the practice of the treatment of these patients. The research will also provide a holistic understanding of the totality of effects and external factors that affect the brain in alcoholism. Genetic factors, environment, and behavioral factors are studied in terms of imaging, but has not yet determined to the end (Sullivan E.V., Harris R.A., and Pfefferbaum A., 2010, p.140). Systematic research of alcohol addicted people allows exploring the brain mechanisms and the possibility of recovery of brain systems, taking into account possible changes in the brain structure and the corresponding recovery mechanisms. It plays an important role in the understanding of how to save the patient from dependence and take it out of the state of alternating stages of drunkenness and sobriety. However, despite the fact that in recent decades the study of alcoholism and its effects on the brain have evolved considerably, and gave a lot of new information, the ethical side of research in relation to a patient remains incompletely understood, as studies continue to develop. Many researchers underline the importance of the understanding of the related ethical norms and rules in relation to the patients. Thus, the study of this issue is still relevant and needs further study because the study of alcoholism and its impact on the structure and functioning of the brain are necessary and will continue.

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  1. Buchman, F.Z. (2007). Neglecting the Social System: Clinical Neuroimaging and the Biological Reductionism of Addiction. Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 2(2).
  2. Dolinsky, Z.S. and Babor, T.F. (1997). Ethical, Scientific and Clinical Issues in Ethanol Administration Research Involving Alcoholics as Human Subjects. Society for the Study of Addiction, Vol. 92, Is. 9, pp.1087–1098.
  3. Scott, C.G. (2000). Ethical Issues in Addiction Counseling. Rehabil Couns Bull, vol. 43 no. 4 209-214.
  4.  Sullivan, E.V., Harris, R.A., and Pfefferbaum, A. (2010). Alcohol’s Effects on Brain and Behavior. Alcohol Research & Health, Vol.  33(1-2): 127–143.
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