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Chapter 7

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SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

Chapter 7: “Alcohol Abuse” 5 Reasons Drive Our Interest The excessive consumption of alcohol makes it difficult for most people to effectively perform their expected institutional roles (marital, familial, economic, and educational) Failing to perform expected roles as a result of intoxication is a form of deviance The effect of alcohol facilitate or are associated with the enactment of many forms of deviance (crime, violent, sexual misbehaviour and needless and avoidable accidents) Epidemiologists find that the greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the greater the likelihood that they will engage i most deviant and criminal activities Rape, robbery, murder and other predatory crimes are associated with drinking alcohol At certain times and in certain circumstances and social circles, the mere consumption of alcohol has been or is regarded as both legally and informally non-normative In a lot of places alcohol is still banned, and is banned in certain jurisdictions around the world specifically in Muslim nations -- it is also regarded as unacceptable and untoward behaviour among most evangelical Christians While very few sociologists define deviance by harm, harm and deviance ar enot randomly related to one another; many of the most harmful activities are condemned Alcohol causes, generates, or implicated in as much harm as it has, mostly without being banned or strongly condemned everywhere There’s a concern that practically all adult members of the society harbour when it comes to drinking: alcohol consumption among minors Majority of adults consider drinking at all among young people as non-normative because they don’t believe that young people can handle liquor - often leads to problematic behaviour than among the mature individuals Alcohol: An Introduction Alcohol emerges spontaneously from the fermented sugar in overripe fruit; the starch in grains and other food substances also readily converts to sugars and form sugar to alcohol Alcohol can induce pleasure, euphoria, intoxication, a sense of well being, a state of relaxation, a relief from tension, a feeling of goodwill towards others, the alleviation from pain, drowsiness, and sleep Who Drinks? Who Doesn’t? There are 2 crucial measures of alcohol consumption Drinking vs. Abstinence Drinking to excess Drinking varies dramatically from one category in the population to another - drinking heavily, compulsively and abusively (excess) varies along sociological lines Some groups in the population have extraordinarily high proportions of drinkers but low proportions of alcoholics, while others are more likely to abstain but its drinkers are more likely to drink compulsively and abusively Social class or socioeconomic status (SES) which is normally measured by income, occupation/education, correlates strongly and consistently with the consumption of alcohol Gender also correlates strongly with drinking - men are consistently more likely to drink and to drink a lot when they do so Men are twice as likely to binge drink (having 5 drinks on the occasion 5 or more times in the prior 30 days) and three times as likely to be heavy drinkers Age is also a strong correlation with drinking - tends to be low in younger ages but then shoot up in the middle to late teenager years (19 and early 20s) and then slowly declines Heavier drinkers are more likely to be drawn from the social sectors of the population who contribute the highest proportion of participants in deviant behaviour (less well educated white young males) Drinking 5+ alcoholic drinks on repeated occasions, month after month, is non- normative Alcohol: Essentialism vs. Constructionism Essentialism stresses on positivism, or the naturalistic scientific approach Constructionism stresses on norms, social and cultural definitions and the exercise of social control Alcohol’s objectively harmful effects through formidable, can be and are mitigated or softened and rerouted by society’s norms - the substances used for different purposes in societies all around the world, and with very different consequences 2 keys to alcohol’s consequences: The pharmacological effects of this psychoactive drug The normative culture that lays down rules about drinking In third world countries, premature deaths are the result of malnutrition and poor sanitation, whereas within more developed places (Western country) premature death is due to the combination of legal drugs taken together (tobacco and alcohol) rather than the use of illicit drug use Illegal drug use is socially constructed as a more serious problem Acute Effects of Alcohol: A (Mainly) Essentialistic Introduction Chemically alcohol is known as ethanol Level of alcohol intoxication does not automatically translate into behaviour under the influence Alcohol is both a drug with objective, measurable effect and a social phenomenon, the impact of which is shaped by culture, society and social context Alcohol is the only addictive drug that dangerously alters behaviour that at the same time is freely and legally available without a prescription Women are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than men, the smaller the person (less blood someone has to dilute the effects of alcohol) the more substantial the effects, the less body fat someone has the more substantial the effects, the less food and water in one’s stomach the more substantial the effects Alcohol is alcohol Alcohol like other drugs, builds up pharmacological tolerance: it takes more alcohol to achieve a given effect in a regular, experiences or frequent drinking than in an abstainer or infrequent drinker Alcohol is a depressant like sedatives - it slows down, retards, or obtunds many functions and activities or organs of the body like the heart beat rate and neurological response time The Co-Occurrence of Alcohol Abuse and Risky, Deviant Behaviours Most researchers consider binge drinking a form of alcohol abuse Risky deviant behaviour includes: driving under the influence, smoking, engaging in criminal and violent behaviour, putting oneself into a situation in which becoming a victim or criminal and violent behaviour is likely, engaging in risky sexual behaviour (multiple partners, unprotected sex, sex with strangers, etc.,) using and abusing illicit drugs and suicide Drinkers are more likely to engage in deviant behaviour than nondrinkers and the more they drink the greater the tendency Researchers found that a sale of alcohol correlated with the likelihood that local residents will be hospitalized for assault What causes deviant behaviour in terms of alcoholic consumption? Some argue that being under the influence is the key mechanism causing such a relationship Others argue that it is the kind of person who drink and drinks heavily, that is the eye explanatory fact
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