This section is from the book "The Human Body: An Elementary Text-Book Of Anatomy, Physiology, And Hygiene", by H. Newell Martin. Also available from Amazon: The Human Body.
One result of a single dose of alcohol is that the control of the Will over the actions and emotions is temporarily enfeebled; the slightly tipsy man laughs and talks loudly, says and does rash things, is enraged or delighted without due cause.
If the dose be larger, the stage of giddiness is accompanied by diminution of the sensibility of the skin; and imperfect control over the voluntary muscles, indicated by defective articulation and a staggering gait. The muscles moving the eyeballs cease to work in harmony. Normally they act unconsciously, turning the eyes so that images of objects looked at are focussed on corresponding points of the retinas; and objects are seen single. Soon after the voluntary movements are affected the involuntary regulation of the eye-muscles is impaired, and objects are seen double; the eyeballs being no longer so turned as to bring images on corresponding retinal points. The stomach may also be so irritated as to lead to vomiting. Then comes deep drunken sleep; followed by headache, loss of appetite, and prostration similar to, but more marked than, that occurring after the smaller dose.
* It is doubtful if chemically pure alcohol diluted with water quickens the pulse; most ordinary alcoholic beverages, however, undoubtedly do.
If the alcoholic indulgence be repeated, day after day, some of the above-described primary consequences become less marked; but they give way to more serious functional and structural diseases.
If the amount of alcohol be increased, further diminution of will-power is indicated by loss of control over the muscles. Habitual drinking of alcohol results in permanent over-excitement of the emotional nature and enfeeblement of the Will; the man's highly emotional state exposes him to special temptation to excesses of all kinds, and his weakened Will decreases the power of resistance: the final outcome is a degraded moral condition. He who was prompt in the performance of duty begins to shirk that which is irksome; energy gives place to indifference, truthfulness to lying, integrity to dishonesty: for even with the best intentions in making promises or pledges there is no strength of Will to keep them. In forfeiting the respect of others respect for self is lost, and character is overthrown. Swift and swifter is now the downward progress. A mere sot, the man becomes regardless of every duty, and even incapacitated for any which momentary shame may make him desire to perform.
Describe the primary effects of a moderate dose of dilute alcohol. Of a larger but not fatal dose.
Describe the influence of alcohol on will-power.
These results are due to the weakness of the drinker, caused by the nature of the drink. Alcohol is a brain poison; one dose of it leads to a craving for more. Happily not every beginner becomes a drunkard; but experience shows that the danger is great: no one can foretell how quickly his will-power may be weakened by alcohol.
For the inebriate there is but one hopeŚconfinement in an asylum, where, if not too late, the diseased craving for drink may be gradually overcome, the prostrated Will regain its ascendency, and the man at last gain the victory over the brute.