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Social Issues and Alcoholism

Alcohol use is very common in today’s society.  It is perfectly normal and acceptable for an adult to partake in a drink or two whether it’s a social gathering, a work function, or any other number of social functions.   Sadly however, we have become a nation of excess.  Everything is super sized, super fast, super small/compact; we feel the need to do as much as we can, cramming everything we can into a day.  This view of the acceptable “excess” has also bled into our abuse of alcohol.

Social issues, as they pertain to alcoholism, begin at a very young age. Youth are introduced to alcohol at an alarmingly young age—some youth as young as 10 years of age have admitted to drinking alcohol.  Kids may face a great deal of peer pressure to drink.  A number of drinking games, both in high school and at the college level, encourage overindulgence—sometimes with dangerous consequences.  There are board games designed as adult drinking games such as Passout, which encourage the players to overindulge in a variety of alcoholic substances until they “passout.”  There are also a number of other drinking games such as the popular “beer pong” and “quarters.”  When alcohol abuse occurs at such a young age, it is easy to see how this pressure extends into adulthood.

Social Drinking Is Generally Acceptable

Social drinking can be defined as a pattern of drinking that is generally acceptable in society.  However, it is important to note that social drinkers can typically stop drinking after one or two drinks.  Social drinkers do not suffer any negative consequences as a result of their drinking such as legal problems or other related issues.  Social drinkers may have a drink or two to “unwind” and then move on.  Social drinking becomes a problem when the social drinker finds that they can no longer function normally while drinking; they cannot consume just one or two drinks. They may say/do things that they wouldn’t normally do, and some may forget things that happened while they were drinking. Continued alcohol abuse leads to a drug addiction to alcohol.

As social drinking increases, the number of drinks may increase.  The individual may develop a tolerance to the alcohol and find that it takes more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect.  Other factors that may come into play include the person’s gender, their age and weight, and their history of drug and alcohol abuse.  Before they know it, a person can be totally consumed by the need for alcohol.

They may find that they cannot “function” without it.  They may choose alcohol over their obligations with friends and family members; they may miss work frequently or miss project deadlines as a result of their alcoholism.  The alcoholic may find that they have alienated friends and family, lost a promotion opportunity at work, or may face legal issues as a result of their alcoholism. The alcoholic has alienated everything and everyone they know and love in order to consume alcohol.  They have become obsessed to the point that they no longer have any control over their impulses.  The alcoholism consumes them and overwhelms them—nothing else is as important as getting their next “fix.”   At this point, a family or loved ones may stage an intervention in order to help the individual find treatment for their addiction.

Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a diagnosable disease characterized by several factors:

1. A strong craving for alcohol
2. Continued use of alcohol despite harm or personal injury to self or others
3. The inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
4. Physical illness when drinking stops
5. The need to increase the amount of alcohol consumed in order to feel the effects.

Social issues that go hand in hand with alcoholism include factors such as unprotected sex and drunk driving.  Chronic alcoholism can also lead to job loss/unemployment, possible homelessness, and severe medical problems.

Ultimately, the disease that is alcoholism affects not just the individual with the disease, but their friends, family, co-workers, and society at large.  What may have started as an innocent, social norm has suddenly become an alarming addiction.

The Difference Between Social Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

The lines between social drinking and alcohol abuse are quite blurry.  Different body sizes and shapes have different tolerance levels for alcohol.  This, along with many other factors, can affect how quickly and frequently social drinking starts resembling alcohol abuse. If attending a party where binge drinking or “drinking games” are on the agenda, make plans to spend the night or call a cab.  If such high-level alcohol consumption becomes a frequent habit – even in social circles – it may indicate an alcohol abuse problem.  The reasons for alcohol abuse are many and varied, and they include gaining or maintaining a circle of friends.

Many business or celebratory social events involve alcohol consumption.  Participants can avoid alcohol abuse by using a few basic precautions:

  • Eat a meal. Food helps soak up alcohol, somewhat counteracting the intoxicating effect.
  • Know your limits. If you are planning on driving, you must not push the limits.  If you generally start feeling buzzed after four drinks, then drink only two.
  • Sip slowly. Not only will this slow the alcohol’s effect on your brain, it will also help you feel socially comfortable without pushing your limits.  If you make only two martinis last all night, chances are nobody will notice or care.

If you justify heavy alcohol consumption by saying you are a “social drinker,” but find yourself drinking just as much or more after the drinking buddies are gone, chances are you have an alcohol abuse problem.  Here are telltale alcohol abuse signs to watch for:

  • Social disruption
  • Poor work performance
  • Failure to meet basic obligations
  • Physical and mental health problems
  • Family and work conflicts

Alcohol – One Of The Most Debated Social Issues

Alcohol is one of the most debated social issues of our time. Of course, this is nothing new, as alcohol and related issues like alcoholism have undergone serious debate since the days leading up to prohibition. We’re a long way from prohibition now, but be that as it may, America is still relatively conservative in its attitude toward alcohol. Before aging into the double digits, young Europeans are often allowed to consume alcoholic beverages in social settings. Stateside, the practice of parents supplying alcohol to those under age 21 is not only illegal, but also socially frowned upon for the most part. Depending upon which circle you are in, social drinking is acceptable, but frequent excessive consumption bordering on alcoholism causes concern. Alcohol is also an issue that has divided the church. People of different denominations or sects within the same faith can have radically opposing views on alcohol consumption. The concern erupts from the harm alcoholism can cause. When a person succumbs to alcoholism, their family, job, friends, material possessions, and life in general all take a backseat.

Alcoholism may be an eventual development, or it could happen quite quickly. Alcoholism can cause a person to start drinking sooner and keep drinking longer than everyone else at a party. Sometimes their drinking will even begin at home before the party. They are drinking to get drunk, a sure indicator of alcoholism. Alcohol consumption can cause a person to say and do irreversible things that can have lifelong consequences, like broken relationships, failed marriages, criminal arrests, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, accidental injury, or even death. Society has circled back to alcoholism awareness and responsible drinking, with public service announcements discouraging driving while drunk. If a person often becomes unable to function socially when alcohol is present, it is an indicator that the person may need treatment for alcoholism.
Alcohol and Alcoholism

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