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Cultural values and practices are identified to vary from one location to another. Whether defined by laws or by societies, it is common to realize that what is practiced or is considered to be normal in one society may be differently perceived in another society. Such is the difference as realized between the United States and the United Kingdom. This paper seeks to discuss the difference in drinking habits in the two societies. The paper will research on identified behavior and trends as exhibited by individuals who drink as well as regulatory measures over drinking.
Alcohol consumption in the United States
Consumption of alcohol in the United States is considered to be a relative normalcy due to the percentage of the American population which is reported to be drinking. With a significant population of almost twenty million citizens being associated with the drinking problem, the habit can be identified to be common with different types of complications for varying individuals.
Alcoholism in the United States has been identified with a variety of categories that also determines the level of consumption of the drug by individuals. There is the category of individual who are associated with a strong force of attraction that pulls them into alcohol consumption but poses a sense of control to their level and rate of consumption.
There is yet another group of individual who are identified to have lost their sense of control with respect to the consumption and are rather driven by the desire while some individuals are so much into drug consumption to an extent that failure to drink induces physical body problems such as shaking among others (NIH, 2011).
A research activity as conducted in the year 2010 revealed that the United States has adopted an increasing level of alcohol consumption as compared to the level that was realized two decades ago. The increasing trend in drinking is associated with a number of factors that include socioeconomic considerations. The trend is also associated with population changes that have been realized in the states in the past years.
Consideration of demographic records in the United States has for example explained the association of the rates of drinking with the aging population and high level of immigration. Based on this opinion, the drinking habit in the United States can be defined in terms of occupations as well as social factors around an individual.
The aging population for instance associates the drinking habit with the economically inactive population that has been rested. This approach alienates economic impacts of adverse alcoholism with respect to the overall economy of the nation as it does not significantly affect economic activities.
It would be a different case if the middle age population were the major consumer as this would take them out of work especially if they are identified by loss of control with respect to alcohol consumption or to have physical complications due to overconsumption of alcohol.
Another association of alcoholism with immigrants in the nation also exhibits a positive perception over the physically active Americans who are identified by the research as non significant consumers of alcohol. Though the native youths and active adults may be consumers, the research identifies them to portray a low level of such consumption (Science, 2010).
Social consideration of alcohol consumption in the United States also identified the middle aged category of people associated with heavy alcohol consumption to be individuals with social issues. Factors such as poor education that was identified by lack of a university degree for instance reflected a higher level of alcohol consumption.
Individuals who lack social commitments in families such as unmarried people for instance also reported alcohol consumption. Whether based on the economically inactive elderly population, the immigrants or natives with less social commitments, the research reports that the general level of alcohol consumption in the United States has been on the increase (Science, 2010).
Even though the trend in the United States is identified to have changed with an increasing number of people consuming alcohol, a contrary trend on the level of individuals’ expenditure on alcohol is registered to have been on the decline. According to Hanson David with reference to a separate report that was released by national reports, a consideration of consumption of alcohol among individuals aged above fourteen years recorded a decline in the average quantity of alcohol that is currently consumed by individuals.
The research that was also conducted with respect to the same two decade duration reveals more features about the drinking habit in the United States. The increasing number of people who drinks together with its association with the aging property as well as immigration and the revelation of reduction in people’s per capita consumption of alcohol explain a cancelation of the two to a conclusion that the overall consumption of alcohol in the country has most likely been constant over the last two decades.
The trend can also be seen to have shifted to the elderly and immigrants indicating a relief from the active population that was initially involved in the habit. It is also reported that even though young people consume more alcohol as compared to the elder category on an individual basis, the rate of alcohol consumption in young people has been reducing with time. This finding is also consistent with the concept that the elderly consume more on an overall consideration due to their larger numbers (Hanson, 2011).
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Legislations that have been established in the United States over drinking age are also an important factor with respect to alcohol consumption. While a majority of nations across the globe have fixed drinking age to the majority age, the United States has its minimum drinking age fixed at twenty one.
This means that by federal laws, individuals below this age are prohibited from consumption of alcohol. Its consideration as an offence under federal regulations thus provides a benchmark over the level of alcohol consumption by individuals.
Though the law might not be effective in arresting drinking among individuals below the stated age, it has been effective in reducing the rate of alcohol consumption among the youth in their earlier years in which they are susceptible to peer influence. This is also a time at which the individuals are not mature enough to make concrete psychological decisions. This can be associated with the reduction in the number of individuals that consume alcohol in the middle age.
The freedom that the youth are offered only after reaching twenty one years, an age at which they are considered by the government to be able to make reasonable choices, may be a significant base for the choice of individuals not to consume alcohol in their middle age because the legality of consumption comes at a time when the youth have developed focus to other important things such as career that keeps them away from alcohol consumption.
Even though exemptions are provided for consumption of alcohol by individuals bellow the age limit, the law is a step to reducing influence into consumption and even addiction to alcohol at an earlier age (Potsdam, 2011).
The United States also has a number of regulations on consumption of alcohol that are seen to play a direct role in reducing the level of alcohol consumption in the nation. There have for example been different rules and regulation over sale or even consumption of alcohol across the nation.
Apart from the limitation in the minimum drinking age, there is a regulation on the level of alcohol consumption that is expected of individuals. The percentage of alcohol that can be in an individual’s body is for instance stipulated under the nation’s constitution to regulate individual’s cumulative consumption of alcohol. Regulations of alcohol consumptions when an individual is on specific tasks such as driving are also realized in the United States (Alcohollaws, 2008).
Alcohol Consumption in the United Kingdom
Alcoholism as realized in the United Kingdom is on the other a major problem that is even associated with health hazards including death. According to statistics on alcohol consumption in the country, the number of reported death cases that are associated with alcohol has been rising. This is realized at the same time that alcohol consumption in the country is reported to be on decrease.
According to reports that focused on data as realized in the year 2009, there were increased usage of medicine in treatment of alcoholism and alcohol related complication. Much of the treatments were realized with respect to individuals who were trying to pull out of alcohol consumption.
This indicated a high level of the consumption that had gone to affect people on physical capacities. Though some regions of the United Kingdom such as London was associated with reduced level of consumption, other regions like southern parts of the country were still experiencing high rates of consumption (Guardian, 2011).
Though a decline in consumption of alcohol in the country is reported to have been slightly on the decline especially with respect to the youth bellow twenty five years old, the overall trend of alcohol consumption in the country is reported to have been on its increase over the past one decade. A consideration of parts such as Ireland for instance has continued to experience an increase in the level of consumption of alcohol.
This drinking habit is at the same time reported to be defying stipulated regulations. A limitation over the quantity of alcohol that an individual should consume in one week is for example in existence in the country but is not effectively enforced leading to people consuming more than the recommended rates.
One of the factors that have been realized to increase the trend of drinking in the United Kingdom has been the increasing culture of women adopting the drinking habit. Though women generally consume less alcohol as compared to men, their increasing involvement leads to higher cumulative values. Increased levels of consumptions are at the same time being realized among the young people, especially among teenagers (Smith and Foxcroft, 2009).
The level of consumption of alcohol in the United Kingdom is particularly realized to be high as compared with that realized in America. The trend of consumption also reveals higher consumption levels in the current time periods as compared to earlier decades.
With alcohol consumption being realized at about seven liters per person in the 1960s and just above ten liters per person towards the year 1980 as the minimum and maximum consumption levels, the current consumption of about ten liters per person can not be considered to be a low level. The country can actually be reported to be at its high consumption levels since fluctuations are also just realized about mean values.
While consumption of beer has been falling in the country, the rate at which people have been using wines and spirits have been on drastic increase. A consideration of trends on the average amount of money that people spend on alcoholic drinks has similarly been on the rise (Selvanathan & Selvanathan, 2005).
The high levels of consumption of alcohol as realized in the United Kingdom are also identifiable with the effects that alcohol has had on people’s lives. Reported cases of particular diseases and even deaths due to alcohol have been significant.
With billions in pounds being channeled to offering medical services to victims of alcoholism and a significant percentage of funds for health care being absorbed in treatment of alcoholism, the drug is identifiable as a threat to the society (Everett, Donaghy & Feaver, 2003).
Rules and regulations that exist in the United Kingdom are also realized not to be strict enough to check on the vice. Laws on consumption of alcohol with respect to age are for example realized to be weak. Though the law strictly prohibits the admission of alcohol to children bellow six years, access to social places where alcohol is accessible is allowed to individuals under the age of sixteen. Though the constitution stipulates that individuals under the age of eighteen are not allowed to purchase alcohol, the law again allows any person above sixteen years to consume alcohol (Directgov, n.d.).
Regulatory measures that are being taken with respect to alcohol consumptions are in general not appropriate as realized with their enactments. The approach that was adopted of increasing taxes on beer in a bid to reduce its consumption for example did not prove to be effective.
On making tax on beer one of the highest in the country leading to higher beer prices, people resorted to the consumption of other drinks such as wines and spirits. This therefore reduced the consumption of beer but not the overall level of consumption of alcohol (BBC, 2010).The weak laws that have been in force have been the draw back towards achieving a reduced level of alcohol consumption in the country. In the year 2008, the government acknowledged this weakness and promised tougher laws (Ferre, 2008).
The level of consumption of alcohol is realized to be higher in the United Kingdom as compared to the United States with the former ranking at position twenty while the latter is ranked at the fortieth position globally. The trends are realized to be higher in the United Kingdom with weaker regulations over consumptions as compared to the United States. The British people can thus be said to drink more than Americans.
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