Alcohol and Society Today
There has been a lot of discussion in the last few years
about the continuing problem of alcohol and the effect it
has on society. Should we treat alcohol as if it were a drug?
Some of the promoters of harsh restrictions on the sale
and marketing of certain alcoholic beverages (restrictions
such as advertising bans and higher taxes) have justified
their proposals with the erroneous assertion that alcohol
is no different than illegal drugs. There have even been stories
in some of the media attempting to equate alcohol with the
use and/or abuse of illegal substances such as marijuana,
crack, cocaine and heroin.
We will first mention as a matter of information that alcoholic
beverages have been a part of western civilization for more
than 25 centuries. Now we know there will always be people
among us who drink. America has already tried prohibition
and learned conclusively that it does not work. The simple
fact is that many Americans like to drink and the vast majority
of those who do, drink responsibly, thus, the public policy
challenge we face today is not to stigmatize all drinking
as bad but to maximize the probability that those who choose
to drink will do so in a responsible manner.
It's a fact that excessive drinking can seriously damage
one's health. Those who claim that "alcohol is a drug"
want that word to carry a particular, threatening connotation.
In reality, however, "drug" is an ethically, legally
and physiologically neutral term that encompasses a wide spectrum
According to a well-known medical textbook of pharmacology,
a drug is any chemical agency that affects living processes.
A drug can be as menacing as cocaine, as benign as sucrose
or as helpful as vitamin C. In a societal sense, some drugs
relieve pain and assist in the healing process. Others are
safely and legally enjoyed by millions of people very day,
even though overuse can result in undesirable side effects.
And Some drugs are so terribly addictive that simply experimenting
with them carries substantial risk.
Recent studies show that excess alcohol consumption can
lead to a number of serious health problems, and of course
there is the problem of addiction which must be taken into
consideration. Who among us hasn't been exposed to a friend
or relative with a severe drinking problem. Many of societies'
problems today such as spouse abuse, child abuse and dysfunctional
family relationships can be traced to drinking problems.
Alcohol may lead to liver problems, a variety of cancers
as well as forms of osteoporosis and depression, and studies
are showing, too, that women are more susceptible to the ill
effects of alcohol than are men. From this information, it
is safe to conclude that anything which has this type of effect
on one's general health, is going to affect the entire system.
And research has shown that alcohol depletes the body of it's
necessary vitamins and minerals.
"Social drinking" seems to be an accepted practice
these days and the arguments both pro and con will always
be with us. It is our hope that as you read and consider this
information you will become more aware of the effect that
alcohol has on society today.