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Determining the effects of society on views on alcohol and drugs

Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking Key findings One of the problems facing those concerned with the development of policies and legislation on alcohol issues is the sheer volume of research and publications on this subject. In addition, these works span a variety of disciplines, and are often couched in academic jargon which may be incomprehensible to non-specialists.

In this section, we therefore provide a brief, bullet-point summary of the key findings and significant generalisations that can be drawn from our survey of the literature on social and cultural aspects of alcohol.

History Alcohol has played a central role in almost all human cultures since Neolithic times about 4000 BC.

  1. The local drug action committee members are identified by their departments and the majority of them are administration officers who act as employee assistance officers.
  2. Alcohol consumption at the shebeens very often leads to violence, assaults, stabbings, rapes and murder, to mention a few.
  3. Ownership of intervention programmes could assist in treatment and contribute to reducing the harm that is caused by alcohol.
  4. The social workers would serve as a link between schools and the homes of the children, and they will at the same time work with families that need assistance in order to create an environment conducive to learning and development.
  5. The departments and organisations that are involved in the local drug committees are not experts in the field of alcohol abuse.

All societies, without exception, make use of intoxicating substances, alcohol being by far the most common. There is convincing evidence that the development of agriculture - regarded as the foundation of civilisation - was based on the cultivation of grain for beer, as much as for bread.

The persistence of alcohol use, on a near-universal scale, throughout human evolution, suggests that drinking must have had some significant adaptive benefits, although this does not imply that the practice is invariably beneficial. From the earliest recorded use of alcohol, drinking has been a social activity, and both consumption and behaviour have been subject to self-imposed social controls.

Attempts at prohibition have never been successful except when couched in terms of sacred rules in highly religious cultures. Behavioural effects There is enormous cross-cultural variation in the way people behave when they drink.

In some societies such as the UK, Scandinavia, US and Australiaalcohol is associated with violent and anti-social behaviour, while in others such as Mediterranean and some South American cultures drinking behaviour is largely peaceful and harmonious. This variation cannot be attributed to different levels of consumption or genetic differences, but is clearly related to different cultural beliefs about alcohol, expectancies regarding the effects of alcohol and social norms regarding drunken comportment.

The findings of both cross-cultural research and controlled experiments indicate that the effects of alcohol on behaviour are primarily determined by social and cultural factors, rather than the chemical actions of ethanol.

The prevalence of alcohol-related problems is not directly related to average per capita consumption: Alcohol-related problems are associated with specific cultural factors, relating to beliefs, attitudes, norms and expectancies about drinking. The beliefs and expectancies of a given culture can change. Although some cultures experience more alcohol-related problems than others, moderate, unproblematic drinking is the norm in most cultures, while both excessive drinking and abstention are abnormal behaviours.

Rules and regulation In all cultures, drinking is a rule-governed activity, hedged about with self-imposed norms and regulations concerning who may drink how much of what, when, how, in what contexts, with what effects, etc.

Proscription of solitary drinking 2.

  1. The key informants were of the opinion that alcohol abuse has detrimental effects on the workplace, individuals, families and the community.
  2. Many families are beneficiaries of pensions and grants as their only source of income. One social worker said the following.
  3. Internet Journal of Medical Update, 1 1. In order to regulate the availability of alcohol, some controls are needed.
  4. Dlamini states that "the emotional and psychological impacts on families, the high levels of crime and other social ills have left many communities under siege by the scale of alcohol and drugs" National Drug Master Plan, 2013-2017.
  5. Stimson further states that "off-the-shelf solutions" in tackling alcohol issues are not effective, relevant, feasible and appropriate for everyone.

Prescription of sociability 3. Social control of consumption and behaviour 4.

The literature to date offers no satisfactory explanation for the near-universality of restrictions on female drinking, as all researchers have attempted to explain this in purely cultural terms. We suggest that the prevalence of such restrictions may be due to non-cultural factors such as differences in male and female physiology resulting in more pronounced effects of alcohol on females. Symbolic functions In all societies, alcoholic beverages are used as powerful and versatile symbolic tools, to construct and manipulate the social world.

As labels defining the nature of social situations or events 2. As indicators of social status 3. As statements of affiliation 4. This has nothing to do with any intrinsic properties of the beverages themselves - beer, for example, may be associated with disorderly behaviour in some cultures or sub-cultures and with benign sociability in others. Some societies appear less susceptible to the cultural influence of alien beverages than others.

This may in part reflect the generally higher social status of those adopting wine-drinking. Drinking-places Drinking is, in all cultures, essentially a social activity, and most societies have specific, designated environments for communal drinking.

Cross-cultural differences in the physical nature of public drinking-places reflect different attitudes towards alcohol.

In all cultures, the drinking-place is a special environment, a separate social world with its own customs and values 2. Drinking-places tend to be socially integrative, egalitarian environments 3. The primary function of drinking-places is the facilitation of social bonding. Transitional rituals In all societies, alcohol plays a central role in transitional rituals - both major life-cycle events and minor, everyday transitions.

In terms of everyday transitions, cultures such as the US and UK in which alcohol is only used to mark the transition from work to play - where drinking is associated with recreation and irresponsibility, and regarded as antithetical to working - tend to have higher levels of alcohol-related problems.

Cultures in which drinking is an integral part of the normal working day, and alcohol may be used to mark the transition to work e. France, Spain, Perutend to have lower levels of alcohol-related problems. Shifts away from traditional pre-work or lunchtime drinking in these cultures could be a cause for concern, as these changes can indicate a trend towards drinking patterns and attitudes associated with higher levels of alcohol-related problems.

Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking

Festive rituals Alcohol is universally associated with celebration, and drinking is, in all cultures, an essential element of festivity. In societies in which alcohol is a morally neutral element of normal life such as Italy, Spain and Francealcohol is strongly associated with celebration, but celebration is not invoked as a justification for every drinking occasion.

Most national and cross-cultural studies of drinking in Europe have been of a purely quantitative, epidemiological nature and provide little or no insight into the social contexts and cultural roles of drinking. This has led to an unbalanced perspective.

5.1 How can work performance be affected by alcohol consumption?

Although by far the most informative source currently available, this is a global survey with only 10-12 pages on each country. Although written for a mainly European audience, this SIRC report is based on a global literature-review and draws on evidence and examples from a wide range of drinking-cultures around the world.

This broader perspective in part reflects the limited relevant research material available on European drinking-cultures, but is also a deliberate attempt to avoid the parochialism which often characterises research on alcohol.