Effects of Alcohol on Society: It is 11.40 p.m. on a Monday night and Darren is doing something he has not done for a very, very long time: staying sober. Darren is exactly 17years and 3 months old and a senior high school student. According the law, Darren can only take his first legal bottle of beer when he is in his senior year of college (at least at 21). But he is not the only underage American who drinks. In deed, an estimated 63 percent of underage high school and college students drink for at least one night per week. This prevalence, of course, comes with an array of harms, both to the individual and society at large. Adults are not spared either. Adolescents and teenagers grow up witnessing their parents and other adult relatives make toasts of champagne and wine at special occasions. Adults also casually enjoy several beers, say, at picnics. As it is, today, alcoholic drinks are as regular at business lunches in the same way they are at college fraternity parties. However, in spite of the fun and prestige associated with alcohol, and forceful arguments to the contrary, both underage and legal drinking have devastating ramifications on the person of the individual involved and society at large.(Langdana 2009)
Alcohol is the most common drug among youth, and the consequences of overdrinking have been dire. In deed, each year, an estimated 5, 000 youngsters below the 21-years age bracket perish from underage-related activities; 1,900 from automobile crashes as they drive under the influence; 1,600 alcohol-related homicide; 300 suicides, and from hundreds of other alcohol-induced injuries including burns, falls, and drowning (Tracy 2005). Yet
Alcohol abuse (often) harms people than the one who drink, and can visit undesirable consequences on society as a whole. For instance, alcohol is typically believed to lead to dwindled worker productivity, an increased rate of unintentional injuries, violence and aggression against others, and spouses, and child abuse. Research outcomes have revealed that drinking is directly or indirectly involved in or associated with most of these social vices. Admittedly, however, research findings that alcohol actually causes these effects do not exist. But this does not negate the fact that alcohol has profound adverse personal and social effects.
Against popular arguments that alcohol drinking has age-old social roles ranging from wedding gatherings to certain traditional rituals, its abuse has profound ramifications for the individual and society. For instance, alcohol abuse is commonly attributed to some people’s failure to fulfill major work, home and school-related obligations. Such unfulfilled obligations include chronic absences, unsatisfactory work performance, neglect of household and children. In addition, many people have been known to continue drinking even in potentially hazardous situations such as operating an automobile or machinery (Galanter 2005). Moreover, households have been relieved of millions of dollars in legal fees due to alcohol-related altercations like perpetual arrests for disorderly conduct while drunk and life-threatening bar brawls. As a consequence, many households have continued to sink deeper and deeper into avoidable poverty. When drinking continues despite recurrent social/interpersonal problems, arguments or physical fights with spouses ensue. In extreme cases, hitherto happily married couples end up filing for divorce, just because one of the spouses cannot carry his or her liquor. (Blondell 2005).
The effects of alcohol consumption on driving safety, especially for youth, cannot be overstated, and the available alcohol-related car crashes statistics are sobering. Each year in across the United States, 6,000 teenagers are killed by drinking under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a number that surpasses all illegal drugs combined. So much is the frequency that, in 2009, deaths emanating from alcohol-related car crashes was 1 in every 50 minutes! Drunk teenagers’ road recklessness continues to claim major newspaper headlines slots: teenagers car racing… four people dead; an elderly man mowed down by an over speeding drunk driver… as a result, the most needed (and limited) policing time is wasted trying to investigate each case of hit-and-run so that so much time that could otherwise be used to carry out more important and unavoidable cases is lost unproductively. In addition, courts waste most of their limited time presiding over evitable accidents. When this happens, the family, friends and communities of the victims suffer the greatest pain when a teenager with promising future perishes in a grizzly automobile accident because of alcohol consumption(Karrol 2002).Society must therefore take measures to curb the menace of DUI instead of lying in wait until it is a close kin who turns out to be the victim.
Although young drivers – aged between 19 and 21 – account for most of alcohol-related car accidents, dunk adult drivers are also frequently involved in road accidents, some even fatal (Smith et al 1996). According to statistics, an estimated 45% of all road accidents costs in the United States are alcohol related. And it is rarely the drunk driver who foots the entire bill. Instead, other people who maybe do not even consume alcohol (society) have to settle almost half of the total alcohol-related road accident costs. For instance, in 1999, alcohol-related road accidents accounted for approximately 16% of the total monetary compensation made by motor vehicle insurance companies. Additionally, in the same year, the financial cost to society topped out at 80 cents per ever drink consumed; 40 cents of this cost was contributed by other members of society other than the reckless drunk driver. All injured alcohol-related survivors must also bear the burden of health care costs and lost productivity. As such, it is crystal clear that alcohol consumption is bad for society.
Be it through road accidents or personal health complications, the fact that alcohol ruins one’s personal life is not a matter of argument. However, the negative effects of alcohol are perhaps best highlighted in the drinker’s family life, especially on spouses and children. More often than not, spouses and children of alcohol consumers become victims of alcohol-related aggravation. Children may especially also suffer a range of medical, emotional and social problems could persist into adulthood (Enoch 2006).To begin with, parental alcohol consumption is an undesirable behaviour capable of influencing a child genetically and environmentally. For a society to prosper, the children it brings forth must be physically, cognitively and emotionally fit. However, prenatal parental alcohol abuse infects the unborn with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), effectively rendering him or her incapable of growing up to become a healthy, productive member of society. In short, the reward society gets from drinking pregnant mothers is a life-long dependant. Still on the consequences of parental alcohol on children, alcohol is believed to play a major role in child abuse, including physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. In a nutshell, because of alcohol, children find themselves victims of poor parenting, chronic and acute financial strain, and family break up. Parental alcohol consumption is bad for child growth and development and its effects may haunt such children even in their adulthood.
And then there is that other social vice of violence against spouses as a result of alcohol consumption. In most cases of violence against partners, alcohol is normally involved, and the percentage falls if other people other than spouses are involved. This is because when people live under one roof, opportunities for violent experiences increase. In deed, many partners filing for divorce on the basis of violent encounters cite alcohol as having played a significant role in the entire debacle. The social problem of partner battering is even more pronounced if both partners are heavy drinkers because the wife and her husband are more likely to engage in negative interactions as they engage in problem-solving tasks. In addition, the male ego of household control soars when alcohol is involved and this usually leads to violent encounters. Thus, because alcohol impairs one’s problem-solving abilities, any attempt at problem solving coupled with the feeling of dominion tends to result in aggressive acts. Ultimately, alcohol abuse not only ends up destroying families but also taking away a joyous, healthy family life for other players within the household. Consequently, since a firm society must be premised on strong families, then, society is inevitably crippled by alcohol.
Family matters aside, there is also a high correlation between alcohol consumption and virtually all kinds of unintentional injuries. Statistics reveal that a significant percentage of an assortment of non-traffic-related unintentional injuries – burn/fire, drowning, hypothermia/cold, gunshot, fall, and poisoning – was alcohol-related (Bouchery et al 2011). However, the fact that alcohol is somehow involved in these unintentional injuries is not an explicit indication that drinking actually caused them, but the fact that alcohol plays a critical causal role cannot be disputed. In fact, psychology has demonstrated that alcohol consumption impairs an individual’s cognitive and psychomotor abilities and this increases one’s risk of injury (Uekermann & Daum 2008). Thus, whether these unintentional injuries end up in death or not, they definitely have considerable social and economic impact in terms of medical costs, care for the victims, and diminished or even lost workplace productivity.
Approximate % of Non-Traffic-Related Unintentional Injury Deaths with Alcohol Involved in the United States (1999)
|Cause of Death||Positive*||Intoxicated**|
|Poisoning (by liquid, solid, or gas)||26.6||29.3|
*Blood-alcohol concentration greater than 0 mg/dL
**Blood-alcohol concentration greater or equal to 100 mg/dL
Continued alcohol misuse and dependence costs the American society enormous sums in the tune of billions of dollars primarily due to loss of economic productivity occasioned by alcohol-induced injuries, illnesses, and crime. Whether individuals are admitted in alcoholism treatment facilities, serving jail terms for alcohol-related crimes, or lying in hospital beds due to alcohol-related violence or injuries, their relative incapacity represents a fall in workplace productivity (Chen et al 2009). In addition, workplace absenteeism, injuries, poor job performance, and turnover are all undesirable outcomes of alcohol consumption that have a serious bearing on the whole society. Absenteeism due to alcohol-related sicknesses costs the economy and society a great deal, with heavy drinkers accounting for the highest rate of workplace absenteeism and ultimately the highest loss to society. If it were not for alcohol consumption then, the money lost could be diverted to other pressing social development projects for the benefit of all. Instead, however, it is society that ends up incurring losses that could have been avoided.
The terms violence and aggression are usually used interchangeably. The latter is more appropriate because it is more inclusive. Aggression refers to acting with a view to inflicting harm on others. It can be indirect (e.g. social exclusion) or verbal and can also include vandalism. On the other hand, violence is more specific – the intentional physical assault by an individual against another thereby resulting in severe injury or discomfort. With this in mind, most alcohol-related felonies are crimes of violence, including aggravated assault and/or homicide. As such, many experimental research findings and observational studies have connected alcohol and violence at both the personal and aggregate levels. Alcohol aggravates acts of violence because it interferes with the cognitive, psychological and emotional changes that diminish self-awareness or risk awareness. Therefore, a drunken person is more liable to engage in violence even though this would normally be a rare occurrence were the individual sober. And society frowns upon acts of violence. Drunken individuals who engage in violent activities – some even resulting in fatalities – are therefore tried and most likely imprisoned. When this happens, it is the entire society that has to pay for the felon’s upkeep and accommodation in prison for as long as the law may require (Cosci et al 2007).Individuals convicted for alcohol-related violence represent a drain on society.
Nevertheless, the people-should-be-allowed-to-drink camp still contends that drinking is still an individual right; that everybody should be allowed to live their lives the way they deem fit. Despite the obvious negative health effects excessive alcohol consumption has on their person, people who advance alcohol consumption as an outcome of personal decision and right are adamant. They argue that, as far as underage drinking is concerned, parents have the primary role of advising and controlling their children so that they do not end up becoming alcoholics in adulthood. In spite of their complacency, therefore, they still acknowledge that underage drinking is harmful to the health of children and it may also be an indicator of a subsequent problem of alcoholism. What pro-alcohol promoters fail to acknowledge is that, in today’s highly busy economic and social environment, parents cannot always be counted on to exercise firm control over their children’s drinking behavior (Plant & Moira 2006). Again, I ask, if an underage is not cannot legally be allowed to vote or drive, why should he or she be allowed to engage in binge drinking when statistics show that alcohol is detrimental to their personal social health?
Furthermore, the pro-alcohol outfit argues that, as far as alcohol-related incidents of road accidents and violent behavior, it is state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies that are sleeping on their job; that more civic education is enough to contain the social problem of alcohol abuse. However, what they conveniently fail to say acknowledge is that the current measures put in place to contain the problems , both individual and social, of alcohol abuse have not been successful as they had been envisioned to be. This, according to my assessment, is because the fight against alcohol abuse will be more successful if it begins with the individual. The pro-alcohol camp tends restrict itself to the resultant individual problem of alcohol abuse while turning a blind eye to the broader and obviously more important consequences of alcohol abuse to society, including themselves. I they were to be asked, however, they would most likely acknowledge this fact as a destructive oversight on their part. They should therefore recant their proposition.
In view of the foregoing, alcohol abuse among both youngsters and adults is a regrettably downplayed topic of discourse. Its individual consequences are as evident as are its aggregate social costs. So, when are people going to join up in a common course and say no to alcohol? This question still remains a matter of anybody’s guess. All in all, in spite of all the perceived advantages of alcohol consumption, its individual and social ramifications by far outweigh its gains.
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