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SOC102H1 (285)

Health and Addiction Reading

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

Nov 6 reading (1) Probs: 8, 9  8. Addictions By calling personal weaknesses ‘addictions’ they are given a medical label and are implied to be dealt with medically Addiction—socially disapproved behaviour that is uncontrollable, repetitious and possibly harmful -a social problem because social effects of it are huge, in broken families, health consequences Addictive gambling -non-gamblersrecreational g.problem g. -one in every 50 has a gambling problem -CPGI is a scale developed to measure problem or addictive gambling -like alcohol and drugs, gambling has been a major source of revenue for organized crime -is a public health issue: has social causes and health outcomes Labelling theory (Howard Becker’s Outsiders) -process of insiders defining and treating outsiders as deviant -effects of negative labels on individuals’ self-conceptions & the development of a ‘deviant identity’ Drugs and alcohol drug: substance that causes a biochemical reaction in the body -use of legal drugs is more common than illegal drug abuse: excessive or inappropriate drug use resulting in social, psychological and physiological impairments drug dependency: routine need for a drug for physiological and psychological reasons tolerance: symptom of repeated drug use/ decreased effectiveness of given drug Facts -increased number in the use of cannabis in all age groups, in 2002 than in 1994 -the age group of 18 and 19 have the greatest percentage of cannabis used in the past year -1 in 10 Canadians 15 years of age report symptoms consistent with alcohol or illicit drug problems -men are 2.6 times likelier than women to meet the criteria for substance dependency -tobacco is responsible for one-quarter cancer deaths in Ontario Medicalization -process where behaviours are reconceived as instances of illness and deemed no longer sinful since they are outside personal control -temporarily excuses affliction and raises power of doctors in society Drug subculture -a group of people who share common attitudes surrounding drug use; these attitudes differ significantly from those of most people in society Nov 6 reading (2) Social and physical characteristics of addictions >Alcohol EDUCATION: people with university degrees (12%) are less likely to drink than those with just high school degrees (21%) AGE: ages between 18 and 24 make up 90% of alcohol drinkers SOCIAL FACTORS: influences the odds a person will learn to use alcohol to cope with stress & influences the opportunities a persona has to use alcohol >Tobacco EDUCATION: people with less than high school education are almost three times more likely than university graduates to be current smokers (unlike alcohol use, there is a simple linear relationship) SOCIAL FACTORS: teenagers are more likely to smoke if they have smoking friends, smoking family members, attend a school with a high senior-student smoking rate, or live in a single-parent households >Illicit drug abuse ETHNIC/GENDER: correspond to differences in opportunities to try drugs with acquaintances, dating partners and parents. Males have more opportunities than females to try drugs. Gender roles limit girls’ access to these drugs. >Substance abuse among the Aboriginal population -in the poor living conditions, drugs provide an escape -use of marijuana is higher among native than non-Native American adolescents -treatments: addiction counselling by other Native people, sharing aboriginal experiences, relearning the traditional culture, and practicing aboriginal rituals THEORETCAL PERSPECTIVES ON ADDICTION (pg. 219) >Structural functionalism -alcohol and drug abuse results from social structure’s influence on the individual -these uses are common because it serves social functions (special occasions)  Social disorganization theory -institutions have traditionally acted to discourage deviant behaviours become less effective during times of rapid social change -breakdown in community norms and traditions deprives individuals of a sense of meaning and moral guidance -relearning or re-establishing traditional institutions can reduce substance abuse Merton’s (1957) Strain theory -cause of excessive drinking and drug abuse is the result of incongruence between culturally defined goals and the socially approved means for attaining these goals -eg. primary goals of American society is success (gaining money and material goods), yet social inequality ensures most people do not achieve it since they do not have the means and resources to Nov 6 reading (3) achieve it (higher education and good jobs) Anomie: gap between goals and means Possible adaptations: (solutions) retreat/abandon efforts to achieve goals, escape reality via substance abuse >Conflict theory -alcohol and drug use affect different socio-economic groups differently -powerful capitalist members of society are in a position to define whether a substance is legal or illegal -poor tend to suffer harmful outcomes of substance abuse more than the rich, due to labelling and the criminalization process >Symbolic interactionism -social meanings and values associated with drug and alcohol use and with the labels attached to people when they use these substances are the focus for understanding -the term ‘alcoholic’ is laden with negative characterizations, judgements, and stereotypes in a way that ‘social drinker’ is not SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF ADDICTIONS >Crime and violence -no correlation between rates of drug use and rates of violence -because most drug offences involve marijuana, a drug that is not associated with violence -50% of all homicide offenders and victims are intoxicated from drugs or alcohol at the time of crime >Poverty and income -alcohol use rates are higher among well-educated, high-income people rather than among poorly educated, but alcohol abuse is reported more often among the latter group >Racism -‘war on drugs’ in the US served to increase racial and class injustice by targeting the poor and racial minorities unduly -African Americans were four times likely to be arrested for drug abuse violations and much as ten times more likely to be arrested in some major cities HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF ADDICTIONS >alcohol and drug abuse: -Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) as a result of prenatal exposure to alcohol and result in abnormalities and stunted growth after birth -HIV/AIDS from sharing contaminated needles -anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression >tobacco -primary cause of lung cancer, the leading cause of death Nov 6 reading (4) -smoking near infantssudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): asthma, mental retardation -kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car collisions, murders and suicides combined CLAIMS-MAKING AND CONSTRUCTION OF ADDICTION >Mariana Valverde (1998) -alcoholics and their families have resisted the medicalization of drinking and treatment -social construction analyses draw our attention to battles fought for the right to define drug use and abuse in a particular way (individual failing, uncontrollable disease, or social problem) SOLUTIONS TO ADDICTION >legalizing drugs -enforcement issue rather than a health issue, governments are relying on fines and imprisonment to discourage addictive behaviours -drug prohibition in USlarge, profitable criminal industry -prohibition had to be repealed because when quality-controlled alcoholic drinks were unavailable, people drank alternatives that caused health problems >media and technology -increased amounts of time spent watching TV and online surfing has contributed to unhealthy behaviours (physical inactivity, poor eating habits, smoking, alcohol use…) -media sends the wrong messages to vulnerable adolescents ab
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