- What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is compulsive and uncontrolled usage of alcoholic beverages. It has impacts on every aspects of social life and personal life. Basically, it affects drinker's decision making processes and he or she may not be able to make proper decisions and the behaviors depending on these decisions might cause some problems for the drinker. It might create following problems:
- Health problems such as liver diseases, brain damage, heart diseases, depression, anxiety, etc.,
- Productivity problems such as losing concentration at work, losing power to think and develop etc.,
- Increasing risks of traffic and other kind of accidents,
- Losing mind and being easy to be involved in violence as abuser or person abused,
- Having social adaptation problems,
- Being ostracized by community.
- Social and Cultural Aspects of Alcoholism
Drinking patterns and its consequences are defined in the cultural codes in different societies. In the western countries, it is assumed that drinking alcohol is a part of social life, while in the Islamic countries, it is considered to be a sin. In more traditional countries, drinking habit is a way of entertainment only for men, and women are not allowed to use any alcohol.
Alcohol can be also a symbol for some social events. In the western countries, drinking champagne means a celebration, a high society meeting etc.; drinking koumiss in the Turkish Republics is a prestigious thing; drinking a large of amount of beer in Germany means respect; drinking vodka in Russia is a way of expressing yourself; and drinking ouzo in Greece or drinking raki in Turkey has some traditional meanings. In some regions, some ritualistic traditions are based on drinking alcoholic beverages. For instance, in churches, some wine is served to people with small amounts as Jesus’ blood.
- Alcoholism before Marriage
Marriage is an important event in every individual's life. While making this decision, each spouse would like to see and feel that other spouse is ready for this decision and will take the responsibility of marriages. Alcoholism is an eminent factor that causes a big trust loss in relations.
If the love relation between two sides is not strong enough then it may causes a separation decision. Even though one spouse accepts this situation, families and other social actors generally judge this spouse's drinking. If assuming that one spouse accepts other spouse's alcoholism, in general, non-alcoholic spouse will try to influence the drinker to reduce the amount of the alcohol he or she drinks. If this pressure is not planned well, it might cause a high tension in the family which might bring violence or a divorce or s separation.
Another important issue, the drinker spouse can be assisted by professionals to reduce alcohol usage, however, that might be a time-taking and costly process. In this process, the drinker spouse might not receive any income and that might create a pressure on family budget.
Considering dating and alcoholism, we see different profile depending on the ages and social status of woman and man. At teenager ages, people like alcohol more. Being cool is an important criteria for many youngsters, and drinking alcohol is a very essential. Dating a person who drinks a lot of beer or other alcoholic beverages can be considered cool. However, not all the youngsters accept drinking alcohol as a cool behavior. Depending on the culture a person is in, drinking alcohol might be considered something bad even at early ages. At older ages, people change their preferences about what they drink and how much they drink. For example, wine or champagne are the drinks that mostly demanded by people over 30. Consequently, it can be stated that the effect of drinking alcohol on dating might change according to age, culture and social status.
- Marriage and Alcohol
The studies in this field shows that alcoholism might have a profound impact on marriages and the statistics exhibit that there is a high probability that a marriage with an alcoholic spouse ends up with a separation twice more than a marriage without any alcoholic spouse. Alcoholism has an impact not only on alcoholics but also non-alcoholics.
Marriages have some benefits to men and women: Less illness, accidents and murders rate, less suicide rates, less stress, regular income and stability in physical and emotional life, less loneliness, less mental illnesses, better physiological well-being, more satisfying sex life, better academic lives for children, less criminal behavior of family members, less premarital sex, stronger parents-child emotional bonds, less abusive behaviors among family members, less poverty, and finally more caring and responsible family members.
Alcoholism destroys all those benefits and also destroys the marriage. All the benefits for the stakeholders of marriage disappear. Alcoholism is like a monster hidden in a cabinet at home. When a couple make their marriage decision, if no information is available, one cannot know that if they would have an alcoholism problem in the future.
- Social Approach to Drinking Alcoholic Beverages and Alcoholism
Many people believe that drinking responsibly is an approved behavior for adults for social and religious purposes. Drinking habit starts early ages in the developed countries, because drinking is a part of socialization. Children observe that their parents take alcohol and they want to be like their parents. A study by Bethesda (1997) shows that 51% of adolescents start drinking alcoholic beverages at 12th grade.
The drinking habit at early ages creates a high risk for these children to be a alcoholic in the future. The social values in the developed countries are against being alcoholic, however, they are not against being a social drinker. Social drinkers mostly state that they can control their drinking amount, but considering that alcohol is a thing creating addiction, it is not that easy to control drinking.
In countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and some other countries, there exist a social environment for the young generation which promotes being a drinker: parties, celebrations, etc. Even when people get sad, they drink alcohol, because social life teaches this. Instead of going to a psychologist or facing your problems very bravely, many people prefer forgetting them by drinking. In some societies in Germany and Russia, drinking alcohol is one of the most important ways to be accepted socially.
- How Marriage Ends because of Alcoholism?
Alcohol has many impacts on human body. Some of them are positive and some of them are negative. For instance, drinking a cup of wine every night helps blood circulation. However, there exist more negative effects than positive effects. Alcohol affects human body and also human psychology. Many people after drinking might start exhibiting different behaviors and different personalities. Some people become shy, some become very silent, some become aggressive and some other become hornier and more interested in opposite sex. It cannot be stated for sure that alcohol might causes all negative results, however, the studies and some statistical findings indicate that alcoholism might mostly cause negative results.
In the less developed and the developing countries, mostly men drink alcohol and their treatment to their wives become ruder. Alcohol creates aggressive behaviors and these aggressive behaviors target women and children at home. The cultural codes of these countries are built on patriarchal foundations and the reflections of these codes on alcoholism appear as violence to family members. In the developed countries, the violence to women and children is rarer; however, alcoholism still might have some negative effects. Cheating on spouse, being addicted to alcohol, stopping working or working inefficiently, not taking care of children, not taking some responsibilities are some examples.
Consequently, in the developed, the developing, or the less developed countries, alcoholism might have negative effects on the family. These negative effects become continuous if the alcoholic spouse continues drinking. Continuous alcoholism brings larger problems that non-alcoholic spouse cannot stand. In the less developed and the developing countries, women are forced to stay married whatever happens. Thus alcoholic men continue his rude behaviors. In any newspaper in these countries, one can see that many women and children are tortured by the alcoholic men or even sometimes murdering news appear on these newspapers. In the developed countries, less criminal actions happen, however, we can observe that many couple at different age groups could easily divorce. Divorce is a solution to protect women from the violence of men; however, no one can say that it is a perfect solution. Children are affected negatively for all their life term. Especially, considering the problems of single parents in the developed countries, the family union and the family values might contribute to the society. Alcoholism and other reasons for divorce create a single parents community.
- The Result
Alcohol is a thing socially accepted in many countries other than some religious ones. Alcohol is used in medical sector and chemistry for good purposes, however, even thought it has some good effects on human life, it has many negative impacts: damaging health and thinking power, and changing individual's personalities. Even no one can claim that every drinker causes a problem for sure; however, the drinkers who have a negative effect on their lives and on other people's lives have reached a large number.
A high economic cost, alcoholism abuses, workers’ productivity loss, failure to finish a school, higher health risks, early death risk, and many crimes are the reasons to stop alcoholism. All these harms done by alcoholism can be interpreted in terms of money, and the amount of the harm is much more than the benefits of the alcoholic beverages production sector. Only sectors that alcohol is useful are the medical and the chemistry sectors.
Alcoholism has a direct impact on family life and then indirectly on society. It might cause violence, rudeness, and then divorces, murders etc. Considering alcoholism impact on society, nowadays, there are a lot of family members getting affected negatively. The worst point is the separations of the families and single parents. More importantly than the economic costs of alcoholism due to unproductive workers' costs, health care costs, it is destroying fundamentals of societies which might cause an unproductive community which has a loss of trust among individuals.
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