Drugs are substances that can act as medicine, intoxicants or something that can be used to enhance performance of a person or an animal when taken and it cannot be taken as food. They have for a long time played big roles in human being’s life (DUFFER &FULLER 2010). When drugs are well taken or consumed, they can have medicinal value. Drugs range from alcoholic drinks to soft drinks taken by people either for refreshment or for making funs. Among the elderly, alcohol has been considered as the most abused of all drugs in the world. Alcohol has great effects among human being when it is taken in plenty. It mostly affects elderly people because of their metabolic changes that increase with increase in age of a person. Many old people have engaged themselves in alcohol endangering their lives. This has brought some health problems that are very expensive to cure.
Alcoholism is remaining to be a big issue with elderly in the society and there is a need for a quick response and concern about it because of its rampant effects. In this case, Media has been used to show people the effects of alcoholism in the lives of elderly. Media also uses movies and pictures to show the major effects and sell them to locals so that they can watch and take precautions. Media tries to show both health effects and social effects of alcoholism to people through these pictures. According to recent research, it shows that the number of elderly people who are taking alcohol has reduced by 12%. This is because of use of television shows with photos of negative effects of alcohol. Therefore, media is playing a big role in the fighting against elderly alcoholism. Example of such pictures is shown below.
In the recent past, it has been noticed that elderly people have involved themselves in taking alcohol more than doing development activities. This problem has not been reported even although it is rampant among the elders. It has affected many families and government as whole. These people are expected to be our role model but they have turned into alcohol and to get information from them is hard because they are not available. Treatment for alcohol disorders is very expensive and if alcoholism is reduced, that money can be used for development.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research is on investigating the role played by media in our economy concerning alcoholism among the elders. In addition, establish alcoholic’s triggers, cure, health effects, family effects, and recommendations and pass it to elder people.
Objectives of the study
The following are objectives of the study.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism has turned to be a burning issue in our society. More than 65% of the world population is drinking alcohol. This significant figure is threatening health stability of people. Previous research shows that 40% of this population is elderly people. There are two stages of alcohol taking. The first one is early onset alcoholism that occurs to individuals who started drinking at a very tender age. They have been engaging in the activity for many years. Such people have serious health problems and psychological damage due to their long years of alcohol abuse. They develop problems in their organs that are vital for human survival. Such organs are liver, heart brain, and neurons. It is not easy to treat disorders associated with these organs.
The second stage is late onset alcoholism occur in late years where individuals starts depending on alcohol in response to personal changes and undesirable lifestyle. This is very serious because it is not recognized easily. Late onset alcoholism is mainly caused by factors such as retirement, loneliness, and boredom, declining health, depression, loss of self determination and lifestyle changes. Among the elderly, alcoholism affects body organs such as liver, brain, and pancreas. This is due to pharmacologic effects. The body weakens and reaches at time it will not be able to function well due to aging.
Alcoholism is a noteworthy health issue among the elderly population. Most elderly alcoholic are not recognized or detected by health experts and that why it is not easy to tell if that individual has alcohol problem. This is caused by people ignoring elderly population and focus on young population who are productive at that moment. Secondly, health expert concentrate on handling effects of alcoholism such as depression, insomnia and dementia and fail to identify that these conditions are due to alcohol.
The targeted places were research institutions, health institution, individuals, and clubs.
These are some of the results obtained during interview.
The data was collected and analyzed according to the age of people. Note that this is the statistics from health institutions and personal interview combined.
Chart representing the no of people in % who are affected per annum against their age.
Between 40-50 years, the figure increases. This is the age when most people feel comfortable with life and start focusing less on family issues because children have grown up and can cater for themselves. They start drinking a lot hence increasing the number of risks reported per year.
Between 50-60 years, the above trend continuous but now the body organs starts developing some problems.
Between 60-70 years, the number of death increases because the body becomes weak and it cannot be able to fights against chemical content in the body. This is now the age where many of them die and those who survive at this age go to age of 70 years and above where the number of people dying per year is large. According to research, not many people pass the age of 75 year taking alcohol.
Media uses many examples to outline what make elder people drink in most of the time. Some of causes are;
Drug abuse can be caused by unusual influences according to my research. It is not always that brain can be affected by alcohol to a point that it becomes trigger but more so, unusual influences can make you addicted. Alcoholism changes the structure of someone’s brain when taken for a long time and makes it not to work without taking it. This is because the center of the brain that is able to control feelings of pleasure is made to be more active than usual. This forces alcoholics to continue taking alcohol in large amount that likely leads to alcohol addiction.
Noise can also be a trigger in the amount of alcohol someone is going to take for a particular period. Sources of such noise are loud music found in clubs and bars where alcohol is sold. I carried a research of this in one of our great clubs in London. I visited Soho and Fitzrovia clubs and found that an elder person could use 15 minutes to take a bottle of beer when there was low level of music. When the level was louder, he was drinking at high speed. He could use 6-8 minutes to drink one bottle of beer. This increased the amount of alcohol taken by such an individual within a short time. This could be the reason why we found loud music in clubs and bars. Elderly people go to such clubs and spend a lot of money drinking because they are entertained there.
When media uses such pictures to show the main triggers of elderly alcoholism, people take it as their responsibility to restrain their elder fathers from attending such places and at the end, they can stop taking alcohol.
The other trigger is unemployment or idleness. Most elder people who have no jobs are found in drinking bars as you compare with working elder people. Most of them are idle and decide to drink rather than doing something else. Some have retirement benefits and because at their age they have little to do with that money, they find themselves drinking alcohol and become addicted. This man has received a rejection letter for jobs because he is over 60 years. Such people lose hope in life and go back to bars and clubs because they have nothing to do. When media uses such images, it brings an attention to people to invest so that when they retire, they will have something to do rather than drinking alcohol.
One can be triggered to drink alcohol by his/her friends. When you associate with people who takes alcohol you are also triggered to do so. You feel lonely and it is possible to decide to join them either for fun or for refreshment. This altitude continues for a long time and you find yourself becoming addicted such that you cannot work without it. Media uses such pictures so that people can choose good friends once they see the effects of some of their friends.
Most elder people can be triggered to drink alcohol either by stress or pressure caused by family members. I have interviewed many of them and almost 45% said that they drink alcohol to relieve stress caused by their spouses, community, and children.
Health effects of alcohol.
Sometimes media uses pictures of sick people who have been affected by alcohol to pass information to people concerned. Some of the elderly people take it positive and others negative. Media use some of the pictures shown below to show these effects.
1. Cirrhosis of liver- this is a liver disease. Fibrosis and scar tissues replace liver tissues that lead to failure of liver functions. It is fatal disease which have killed many elder people especially those who started when they were at young age.
Alcohol is dangerous to health and people should stop taking it. When you see this, you feel scared to continue drinking and stop if immediately.
2. pancreatitis- this is the inflation of pancreas, which occurs when enzymes are activated in the pancreas instead of small intestine. It is chronic disease, which needs medical attention once noticed. When noticed at late stage, individuals goal for transplant or surgery.
3. Epilepsy- this is a neurological disease caused by many other factors but the key factor is alcohol that causes excessive working of neurons in brain.
4. Heart disease which may cause failing of the heart leading to death of the person affected. When people see such pictures they are scared and stop drinking.
5. People who drink a lot of beer have nutritional deficiencies because most of them do not eat health food. It is better you fail to take food and consider taking alcohol. Their health is not recommendable when you look at them physically.
6. Other physical disorders associated with drinking alcohol are; brain and liver cancer- this is among top ten most dangerous diseases, which have affected more than 20% of the population in U.K, and the other one is damage of central nervous system. When elder people look at this they will be very keen with their lives and stop drinking. Media uses this to show them real life problems associated by alcohol.
People who take alcohol are prone to committing criminal offences like;
1. Children abuse- we have witnessed many cases that have been reported relating elder people with abusing children of low age. According to statistics, most affected children come from families with drinkers.
2. Media can give direct effects of elderly alcoholism by showing some of domestic violence which occurs in our families. This has affected these families negatively and some lead to divorce and death. (BECK 2010).
3. Raping cases are increasing each and every day due to alcohol taking. When somebody is drunk, he/she is not in normal senses and that is why such cases are commonly associated with these kinds of people.
4. Alcoholism leads to loss of employment. There is about 20% unemployed people who were sucked from jobs due to taking alcohol. They fail to attend their jobs because either previous day was totally drunk. This has lead to increase in poverty level in those families because they will not be able to cater for themselves when someone who was providing for them becomes jobless.
5. Some of them cause public disorder and the consequences for this can be criminal.
6. Accidents – those who drink and drive can cause serious accidents that can claim lives of many innocent people. Most of the accidents are caused by drunkard people who do not follow traffic rules. (BECK 2010). Before are some of the accidents that killed the occupants of these vehicles.
Media sometimes can take your photo and use it to demonstrate how you behave while drunkard and when you see it you stop taking alcohol or reduce. Some of these people are isolated by family members in case you are impaired due to alcohol and spend night outside as for the case of this man below. Most of such children prefer drinking rather than going to school. Little children develop emotional problems like fearing their parents because of this kind of behavior, sometimes feel ashamed to be associated with such misbehaving parents. This can leads to depression (AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION 2010).
Prevention, treatment, and nursing mechanisms in relation to alcoholism
Many medications can be done to cure or treat effects of alcoholism.
i. Drunkard people can be given Ant abuse (disulfiram) which enables the body to maintain acetaldehyde, which is used to break down ethanol. This body chemical causes a lot of hangover to the alcohol user. This hangover stays for long making him/her feel uncomfortable and some of them feel discouraged from drinking when they are taking this medicine.
ii. Giving them Naltrexone, this encourages abstinence from taking alcohol. It is also used in Sinclair method, which is combined with regular taking of alcohol to reduce pleasure effects.
iii. Use of odensetron, a 5HT3 antagonist to treat alcoholism when combined with naltrexone.
iv. By use of acamprosate which reduces the relapse amongst drinkers.
v. Counseling individuals with altitude of drinking daily can make them reduce the amount they might be taking per day. This can be done at family level or doctors can sometimes be responsible.
vi. Giving those people alcohol independence technique commonly known as cognitive-therapy. They tend to remember episode that have happened before and recognizes their effects. With due time, they can reduce or stop taking it completely.
vii. Stimulus control where alcohol dependent individual is taught how to stay away from any environment with alcohol and replace such places with activities that are totally different or not related with alcohol.
viii. Family members can limit access to alcohol to their elders, addressing risks that occur due to alcohol taking and supervision can be used to reduce alcoholism. Elder people can also visit guidance and counseling station to be advised. Media uses such pictures to encourage others to attend.
Preventing and Treatment of some of disorders caused by alcoholism are;
So far there is no approved cure for liver cirrhosis but there methods used to reduce its effects in the body of a human being. Some of the treatments are:
i. People who have this disease are asked to stop drinking by doctors.
ii. Medications are given to such individuals to treat hepatitis that is closely associated with liver cirrhosis.
iii. Diuretics are given to such individuals to reduce the amount of fluid in the body.
iv. Blood pressure is reduced in the veins to reduce bleeding in the liver surface. This is done through blood pressure medication.
v. The last stage is liver transplant surgery that cannot be afforded by many.
2. Liver cancer the only method used is surveillance so that it can be detected at early stage. At this stage, it can be removed through surgery, killing of tumors cell or liver transplant, which is very expensive to get (POLITY & BECK 2007).
Why alcoholism is usually misdiagnosed among the elderly
There are many challenges encountered while trying to diagnose elder people to know if they are having alcoholic diseases. In most cases, you cannot look at a person and know that he is affected. It is only through screening and test that you can identify a certain disorder in and individual. This has a great challenge because most of these people don’t go for test unless when they feel they are not feeling well. Therefore, it is difficult to get a list of people at risk.
Health care practitioners can only depend on gathering information from family members or mental information because at early stage these people did not attend health care for diagnoses. Practitioners will take lab test to evaluate health of that person and examine if he/she has any mental disorder. This can take much time because it is not easy to know if that person has abused drugs (ADAMS & COX 1995). Some of these disorders can be caused by other things like; dependence disorder, other drug abuse a part from alcohol, anxiety, substance abuse, or behavioral disorders. Therefore, it is very hard to conclude that a certain individual has alcoholic disorder unless when you depend fully on historical information of that person.
I would recommend the follow measures to be taken to reduce the level of drinking among the elderly people.
i. Family members should take their responsibility to educate these people effects of alcohol to the family. They should analyze clearly what kind of risks this person is going to involve in. This will reduce their behavior due to fear of becoming a victim of such risks.
ii. Government should come up with a department that will be offering counseling to individuals who are taking alcohol in large quantity. This is because even the government itself is affected in terms of resources when offering services like cancer treatment that is caused by alcohol.
iii. Government should come up with laws to reduce drinking hours. This will reduce the time bars and clubs should be opened. This will help to reduce the amount taken for a specific period.
iv. Those found misbehaving due to alcohol taking to be charged and sentenced so that they can change their behavior.
v. Traffic police should come up with laws that will discourage people from drinking alcohol and drive. If you are found guilt, you be sentenced and pay fines.
vi. Government should discourage loud music in clubs because it is influencing people to drink much alcohol than what they could have taken if the music at low level. Owners of these clubs should be given notice and if they fail to comply with this law be charged.
Alcohol is dangerous to health of people especially old people due to weak bodies at late age. Media should continue with this method of educating people about effects of elderly alcoholism. More television programs should be emphasized so that we can try to reduce the number of risks caused by elderly alcoholism. Government also should sponsor any group willing to have their online programs to ensure that more people get enough information about effects of alcohol to our economy. Measures should be taken to reduce death rates caused by alcoholism and people should be responsible for their own lives.
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