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Alcoholism as a social problem Essay

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Updated: Dec 19th, 2018


Traffic accidents, cardiovascular diseases, divorce, dysfunctional families have one contributory factor in common; alcoholism. Alcoholism is a condition in which a person finds himself or herself addicted or dependent on alcohol. It does not necessarily manifest in obvious ways, but the person loses control over their consumption of the substance.

It has health, social, emotional, physical and psychological ramifications in the alcohol abuser’s life as well as the people around him or her. Since this issue has an adverse impact on society’s well being, then one must analyze its cause. Every person must take responsibility for his actions, and alcoholism is a result of those choices.

Overview/history of alcoholism

The problem of alcoholism started in Ancient Egypt, where individuals took beer in excess. Historical evidence indicates that even the Romans dealt with alcohol-abuse complications like liver inflammation. In the United States, alcohol consumption was a controversial issue among the settlers.

Initially, pilgrims regarded it as a valuable commodity because it was not as susceptible to contamination as water. However, after the establishment of the colony, alcoholism became a problem. During the American Revolution and the civil war the issue turned into a debacle.

The first attempt to tackle the problem was in the 1920s when the government passed the prohibition Act. However, underground establishments flourished leading to a repeal of the legislation. In those times, alcoholics were treated as immoral, degenerate and even wicked persons. Currently, some people still hold this view although many also acknowledge that no one sets out to become an alcoholic.

Current issues related to alcoholism

In the news, one is likely to read about an accident that caused the death or dilapidation of several individuals. Drunk driving is one the most significant causes of death. Therefore, the media attributes such devastating losses to the problem of alcoholism. In these traffic accidents, one often learns that the people involved may not walk again or may not function properly.

For instance, the Chicago Tribune reported that a Romeoville woman killed an innocent bystander because she was driving under the influence of alcohol. The victim’s family was devastated by the loss because Marke Bajson (the victim) was a strong, influential and lively person (Meisner 16).

Sometimes the media highlights cases of high-profile individuals who separate or divorce from their spouses because of the problem of alcoholism. Many talented celebrities have failed to meet their family obligations because of these problems. The LA Times reported that artist Lindsay Lohan was arrested for drunk driving. She was forced into a therapeutic program where she spent weeks away from productive activities (Winton 4).

Why the problem is a big deal

Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicate that about 14 millions adults in the US are technical alcoholics. Approximately half of the American population is affected or has been affected by a family member who abuses alcohol.

The NIAAA estimates that the country looses $52 billion in damages caused by alcohol-related problems like road accidents, violent crime, and alcohol rehabilitation costs. In comparison to other addictive substances, the losses associated with alcoholism are three times as much as those linked to illegal drugs.

Continued abuse of alcohol leads to loss of productivity within the country. Statistics indicate that when individuals start overdrinking, they either lose employment or reduce their contribution to work. The country loses about $66.7 billion owing to these issues (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 55).

Underage alcoholism also has its own set of consequences. Research shows that approximately sixty percent of all alcoholics who failed to complete high school did so as a result of their dependence on the drug. Aside from inadequate education, alcohol abuse also leads to one hundred thousand deaths annually. The criminal justice system is overpowered by this problem since 38% of the offenders who committed the wrong were doing so under the influence of alcohol.

Alcoholism is not just a problem for society in general; it also affects the people who abuse it. For instance, people, who drink three or more drinks, put themselves at increased risk of health diseases. Some of the commonest ones include cancer, liver damage, cardiovascular diseases or even cancer. The World Health Organization reports that alcohol abuse is a causative factor for 60 different types of injuries and diseases.

The body recognizes alcohol as the primary risk factor for death amongst males (World Health Organization 4). This steams from cardiovascular complications, violence and death. Alcohol affects their social lives as some of them may exhibit unpredictable behavior. A number of them may become moody, violent and erratic. These individuals will neglect their responsibilities at home or in the workplaces thus putting themselves at risk of divorce or loss of their jobs.

Too much dependence on alcohol causes financial problems at home as an alcoholic’s finances are mostly used for the drug. The person may choose to purchase alcohol over food and thus suffer from malnutrition. Issues of chronic loss of sleep, weight, and memory are just some of the many effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Sometimes this may cause mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Emotional problems

Many people may suffer from sexual or physical abuse in their previous or present relationships. This may cause them to turn to alcohol as a way of neutralizing the problem. However, such an approach only works for a short amount of time because the problem they are trying to avoid will be replaced by their addictions (Institute of Alcohol Studies 11).

Sometimes people use drugs as a way of handling mental complications like depression or bipolar disorder. They may do so in order to feel normal; in such circumstances, alcohol becomes a form of medication to the abuser.

Coping mechanism

Some individuals lack social, communication, and assertiveness skills. Therefore, a number of them may use alcohol as a social lubricant to make them more sociable (Institute of Alcohol Studies 9). Others may lack the courage to speak to large groups of people or to certain individuals, and may consume alcohol in order to eradicate that fear.

Some individuals even claim that they think well when they are tipsy. However, with time, small doses of the beverage may increase and eventually spiral out of control. A person who uses alcohol as a coping mechanism also makes a conscious decision to do so.

Peer pressure

Many people attribute their drinking habit to peer pressure from friends in college or high school. The same may occur in the working population. It can start as a way of gaining acceptance among one’s peers or merely as a way of blending in. With time, the person starts to consume the beverage alone or in the absence of one’s peers. Peer pressure leads one to start the habit, and then the person complicates the problem even more (Institute of Alcohol Studies 13).

Alternative causes and objections

Some people believe that alcoholism is beyond the control of those who abuse it. They blame genetics for the issue, and assert that users are just predisposed to alcohol abuse. They cite occurrence of the problem among many members of the same family. This implies that uncontrollable forces may come into play.

Other persons also claim that alcoholics naturally lack self management skills. For instance, they do not know how to determining their limits or monitor their rate of consumption. This means that the problem is beyond their control.

Response to the objections

It may be true that alcoholism may be prevalent in some generations and not in others. However, no proof exists to predict whether one will abuse alcohol or not. Addictive tendencies may exist, but a person must activate them by making a choice to take alcohol or not. Even the quantity one consumes depends on these choices. Therefore, the problem is more dependent on one’s will rather than one’s biology.

Certain beliefs about oneself have the effect of causing alcohol abuse. If one thinks that they cannot control their frequency and amount of alcohol, then this is an attitudinal problem. Existence of cognitive therapy shows that drink-refusal skills can be taught, and they exist.


Evidence shows that most of the causes of alcoholism emanate from conscious choices. For instance, peer pressure is something within the control of the alcoholic. Therefore, a person has a choice to consume alcohol or not. Additionally, when alcohol is used as a remedy for mental or emotional problems, some unhealthy attitudes must be evoked by the abuser. Finally, alcohol as a coping mechanism, also involve conscious choices. Therefore, it can be treated using this approach.

Works Cited

. 2010. Alcohol problems, causes and prevention. Web.

Meisner, Jason. “.” Chicago Tribune. 2013: 16. Web.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking in the United States: Main Findings from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES). U.S. Alcohol Epidemiologic Data Reference Manual, Volume 6. Bethesda, MD: Author, 2006. Print.

Winton, Richard. “.” Los Angeles Times. 2013: 4. Web.

World Health Organization. Global status report on alcohol and health. Le Mont-Sur-Lausanne, Switzerland, 2011. Web.

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