Contemporary Thoughts of Alcohol

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Contemporary Thoughts of Alcohol

“Alcohol is a drug. Unlike other drugs, it is available to anyone of
legal age and easily acquired. Two out of three Americans over age 18 use
some alcoholic beverage” (Wilcox, Introduction). Seeing how alcohol has
some to be one of the mainstream accepted lifestyles in contemporary
America, we need to question many aspects of it. “The NIAAA estimates that
more than 11 million adults in the US are alcohol dependent and another 7
million regularly abuse alcohol” (Wilcox, Introduction). Seeing that this
is such a big problem we need to seek solutions for those who already have
problems with alcohol and prevention so other do not join these people.

First of all, what is alcohol? The chemical composition of it is that
“to a spine of two carbon atoms are attached five hydrogen atoms and a
hydroxyl (oxygen-hydrogen) group (Edwards, p.1):
“The source of all beverage alcohol is the breakdown of naturally occurring
carbohydrate (starch or glucose)… When swallowed, he alcohol is absorbed
from the stomach and the small intestine” (Edwards, p. 4-6). When the
alcohol reaches the brain most people feel a sort of “euphoria… but every
drinker will react differently in terms of talkativeness, happiness,
enthusiasm, stimulation, sedation, loosening of thought association, and
feelings of power or sexuality… alcohol affects brain functioning by its
capacity to interfere with the biological system of chemical messengers”
(Edwards, p.6-7)
When asked why anyone began or not began to drink, one will want to
answer that it is because of society and not because one is intrinsically
inclined to drink for the mere fact of it. “An individual’s decision to
use alcohol and the frequency, quantity, and situation of such use are the
result of a combination of biological and social factors. Drinking is not
only a personal choice, but also a matter of custom and social behavior,
and is influenced by access and economic factors” (Holder, Introduction).

Of course that once a person begins drinking, they will experience a
different future with their relation to alcohol. Some of the factors that
will greatly affect future alcohol consumption are whether there are
genetic tendencies that are receptive to alcohol and whether one enjoys the
experience he or she has when they drink.Some people drink responsively
while others take it to extremes. Where to draw the line between these two
point is a bit fuzzy, but legal regulation such as setting certain blood
alcohol levels as levels of intoxication serve to give us a sort of
standard of what we should consider intoxicated (Holder, p. 1)
Certain societies more effectively than other are able to deter the
use of alcohol. A good example of this is how the Jewish use their culture
and tradition to teach not to drink in excess. “Jews learn how to drink
properly by example and experience in the home and they simultaneously
learn how not to drink… Sobriety is considered a Jewish virtue, while
drunkenness is a Gentile vice… Consequently while Gentiles are expected
to become drunk, Jews who do so are subject to scorn as expressed in the
well-known Jewish folk saying” (Hanson, p.35). Furthermore, there are
certain ways and approaches to reducing drinking problems. Among them one
of them is to understand the truth about alcohol, in this case that “it is
the misuse of alcohol, not alcohol itself, that is the source of drinking
problems,… that it is important to distinguish between drinking and
alcohol abuse… and that the misuse of alcohol can be reduced by making
individuals make the decision of either to abstain from drinking of
drinking responsively” (Hanson, p.78) It is important to teach young
people the truth about alcohol and doing so by metaphors and culture
assignment is an effective way of making this be a part of their reality.

Trying to fight alcohol consumption in certain environments can prove
to be an overly difficult task. If a college freshman doesn’t drink by the
time he enters college, “they learn that just about everybody drinks, has a
good time, and it is the norm” (Wilcox, p. 2). Sometimes people do not
feel they have to drink but they still want to socialize. The main events
in weekends are parties where everyone drinks. If one goes to these
parties one is continually being pressured to drink by peers and others.

If one rejects such invitations they are scorned and you do not feel that
you fit in because you feel out of place because you are not drinking and
because others do not like the fact that you don’t drink like them. In
cases of these parties many times stronger drugs than alcohol are present
and one who does not even drink alcohol is left there while everyone
continues to act as though they are drunker or more intoxicated and thus
this seems to add to their enjoyment.When drinking becomes the
mainstream source of enjoyment for so many people one wonders why he or she
should not drink too If he sees that all his peers are doing likewise. It
is hard to tempt someone not to eat if you put food in front of their face,
even if they are not hungry.

Alcohol use can be very dangerous especially when it is consumed in
certain places or situations. Among those that are known to be especially
dangerous public drinking, alcohol-involved violent behavior, drinking in
dangerous places such as beaches, operating dangerous machinery or guns,
and of course drinking under the influence of alcohol (DUI) (Holder, p.97).


Among the factors that are given the most exposure today in the media
is the fact of drinking drunk. “Deterrence of drinking and driving trough
DUI enforcement depends primarily on divers’ perceptions of their risk of
arrest for DUI, which in turn depend not only on the actual risk of arrest,
but on the legal BAC limit (which affects both perceived and actual risk),
the level of public attention to DUI enforcement, and changes in any of
these factors” (Holder).A factor that is very troublesome in today’s
media revolved world is that there seems to be many messages in the media
that portray alcohol as a positive source of enjoyment. A good percentage
of all TV commercials concern themselves with showing how happy people are
who drink alcohol. Furthermore, there are countless commercials that show
alcohol as a show of group cohesion such as bread is for Christians. Three
of the examples concerning this that I remember the most are first, one
where a guy goes to work in a wood shop and at the beginning of the day he
is constantly making mistakes such as dropping the hammer and pieces of
wood. Thus he is shunned by the group and then he works hard to make up
for his past mistakes and he proves to be a worthy wood worker and thus at
the end of the day when everyone is resting back and enjoying a cool one,
they tell the kid to come and they give him a beer and that moment he is
transformed from a stigmatized outsider to a complete insider. Thus having
this beer is the award for his right of passage and from that moment on he
will be forever close to these people. In another commercial a young
suitor comes to a barbeque that his girlfriend is having where there are
countless male family members and they all reject and shun the suitor. He
reacts to this by walking straight to the patriarch of the group, his
girlfriend’s father and he stretches his hand and the father of the girl
wants to test him by asking him what he wants, and he asks for a Tecate
beer, and because of this he is given one and because he chose the beer the
group can see that he is a strong man that is worthy of their little
princess. Finally, in one example three people go to a meeting in a
restaurant with their boss as a sort of interview to get a job. When they
are asked what they want to drink the first two ask for lemonade or water
and then the third one says he wants a beer and the boss sees that this guy
is not ashamed of showing who he really is and because of this the boss
orders a beer too and this seems to make him like him more than the other
two. Thus the media portrayal of beer and such as a positive light affects
how society sees this. Furthermore, the fact that alcohol owners are
deeply instilled into the highest ranks of society in the economic, social,
and political sense, it seems unlikely that their current status as top
dogs will end anytime soon.

The ethics of drinking itself concern themselves with various
questions not only philosophical but also applicable in fact. They deal
with “a question of right use and abuse; of means of remedy and control; of
individual and collective responsibility. (Wade, p.137)” It has been
established that the value and use of “alcohol as a food adjunct, and… as
a remedy in the hands of the medical profession” (Wade, p. 138). However,
outside of this, especially referring to the use of alcohol as a “mere
pleasurable use” is the one that proves to be the most troublesome and
therefore is what may be considered ethically incorrect. There is an
ethical movement that considers that anything you apply to your body to
enhance your state of feeling is unethical as it is not natural and
anything that is unnatural is harmful and not good. By taking this
definition we should completely reject the use of alcohol on ethical terms.

However, on other terms that look at the results of what happens when one
consumes alcohol we see that the results are horrible. Among the worse
incidents are those that break up families or commit accidents such as
driving drunk or harming someone physically. If it is a known effect that
the use of alcohol will bring this about one ethical perspective says that
it is unethical to follow anything that will bring harm in the future thus
we should also reject it.



Works Cited
Edwards, Griffith. Alcohol: The World’s Favorite Drug. St. Martin’s
Press, 2002.


Hanson, David. Preventing Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol, Culture, and Control.

Praeger, 1995.


Holder, Harold. Alcohol and the Community: A Systems Approach to
Prevention.

Cambridge Press, 1998.


Wade, Richard. The Liquor Problem. New York Press, 1970.


Wilcox, Danny. Alcoholic Thinking: Language, Culture, and Belief in
Alcoholics
Anonymous. Praeger, 1998.

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