ALCOHOLISM ON SOCIETY

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Alcoholism On Society

The various health problems associated with long-term alcohol consumption are generally perceived as detrimental to society, for example, money due to lost labor-hours, medical costs due to injuries due to drunkenness and organ damage from long-term use, and secondary treatment costs, such as the costs of rehabilitation facilities and detoxification centers. Alcohol use is a major contributing factor for head injuries, motor vehicle accidents (due to drunk driving), domestic violence, and assaults. Beyond the financial costs that alcohol consumption imposes, there are also significant social costs to both the alcoholic and their family and friends. For instance, alcohol consumption by a pregnant woman can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, an incurable and damaging condition. Estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse, collected by the World Health Organization, vary from one to six percent of a country’s GDP. One Australian estimate pegged alcohol’s social costs at 24% of all drug abuse costs; a similar Canadian study concluded alcohol’s share was 41%. One study quantified the cost to the UK of all forms of alcohol misuse in 2001 as £18.5–20 billion. All economic costs in the United States in 2006 have been estimated at $223.5 billion.

Stereotypes of alcoholics are often found in fiction and popular culture. The “town drunk” is a stock character in Western popular culture. Stereotypes of drunkenness may be based on racism or xenophobia, as in the fictional depiction of the Irish as heavy drinkers. Studies by social psychologists Stivers and Greeley attempt to document the perceived prevalence of high alcohol consumption amongst the Irish in America. Alcohol consumption is relatively similar between many European cultures, the United States, and Australia. In Asian countries that have a high gross domestic product, there is heightened drinking compared to other Asian countries, but it is nowhere near as high as it is in other countries like the United States. It is also inversely seen, with countries that have very low gross domestic product showing high alcohol consumption. In a study done on Korean immigrants in Canada, they reported alcohol was even an integral part of their meal, and is the only time solo drinking should occur. They also believe alcohol is necessary at any social event as it helps conversations start.

Caucasians have a much lower abstinence rate (11.8%) and much higher tolerance to symptoms (3.4±2.45 drinks) of alcohol than Chinese (33.4% and 2.2±1.78 drinks respectively). Also, the more acculturation there is between cultures, the more influenced the culture is to adopt Caucasians drinking practices. Peyote, a psychoactive agent, has even shown promise in treating alcoholism. Alcohol had actually replaced peyote as Native Americans’ psychoactive agent of choice in rituals when peyote was outlawed.

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ALCOHOLISM ON SOCIETY

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Streissguth, Ann Pytkowicz (1 September 1997). Fetal alcohol syndrome: a guide for families and communities. Baltimore, MD, USA: Paul H Brookes Pub. ISBN 978-1-55766-283-5.
“Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004” (PDF). World Health Organization. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2007.
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Stivers, Richard (May 2000). Hair of the dog: Irish drinking and its American stereotype. New York: Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1218-8.
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