Alcoholism is excessive alcohol consumption that results in psychological and physical dependency and addiction. Cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease are two other diseases caused by drinking too much alcohol for a long time.
Almost all human groups in different epochs have found and used alcoholic beverages. The fermentation of various foods produces ethanol, the kind of alcohol drunk by humans. In rotting fruit, sugar transforms into ethanol, while in maize and potatoes, decay and fermentation transform starch into sugar and then into ethanol. Consequently, the manufacturing of ethanol and the discovery of its psychoactive properties probably happened by mistake as people sought to preserve food for later use.
The discovery of this substance’s psychoactive properties likely resulted in the rapid creation of alcoholic drinks. As a result, the normative frameworks around alcohol use have altered significantly over time and space.
Ritualistic, Festive, and Regular diet
Social scientists have identified several contexts in which drinking almost exclusively accompanies celebration and social cohesion rituals. In several contexts, alcohol use is a natural element of the diet. Some preparations, mainly beers, have great nutritional value. At the same time, drinking wine diluted with water, due to the purifying properties of alcohol, enables the safe use of otherwise poor water sources. In addition to evidence of the good social impacts of alcohol use, there is a long historical record of intoxication with different outcomes.
Recognizing the possible negative consequences of alcohol intake, Islamic and other religious organizations restrict its usage. In an early biblical story, Noah is said to have embarrassed himself in front of his sons after a drinking binge to celebrate the completion of the Ark.
Alcohol consumption is a common pastime in most civilizations and integral to several religious and secular events and rituals.
Post-industrial revolution period
The advent of alcohol issues and the definition of alcohol dependency coincide with combinations of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and population increase from a broad viewpoint. Alcohol abuse is characterized by failures to fulfill anticipated duties and destructive or antisocial behavior.
Sociologically, alcohol abuse is any consumption of alcohol that violates the social norms defining the context in which it is used. These behaviors may vary from violating the norms of small organizations to murdering someone in a fury when inebriated.
Alcohol abuse is significant due to the combination of
(1) Its predominance within a specific demographic or subset of that population.
(2) Patterns of frequent and increasing abuse by persons.
(3) The degree to which abuse’s social and physical repercussions affect the moral standards or core beliefs of communities or subcultures within them.
(4) How the local culture views the causal connection between the presence of alcohol and its adverse effects.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Alcoholism may be considered a subtype of severe alcohol abuse. However, others characterize it as a unique medical state induced by the interaction of alcohol with physiological properties on which biologists cannot agree.
Alcoholism is characterized by persistent alcohol drinking despite its significant physical, psychological, and social consequences. The fact that this behavior seems unreasonable and uncontrollable is one of the criteria used to classify it as a medical condition.
Abuse of alcohol and alcoholism are behavioral tendencies that are prevalent in practically all industrialized nations today. This seeming universality is the result of the globalization of western social and economic organizing systems.
Alcoholism – Medical Assessment
Alcoholism is a word used to describe a medically diagnosable illness of severe alcohol dependency or addiction. Acceptance of the word is the cornerstone of the self-help philosophy of organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, which was formed in the United States in the 1930s. Alcoholism has been regarded as an illness, genetic ailment, psychological issue, and dysfunctional family outcome.
Alcohol and its high use are unquestionably linked to minor and significant crimes, such as automobile accidents, health issues, domestic violence, and occupational injuries. In recent years, however, the word alcoholism has been legitimately criticized: the World Health Organization and others no longer recognize its classification as an illness, and a more comprehensive range of viewpoints, including cultural and social theory, now guides the majority of research on alcohol addiction.
There is a lot of diversity among cultures and countries in drinking and chronic drinking practices, and a sociological examination of these differences is crucial. It has been noticed, for instance, that unforeseen drinking issues may arise in industrializing societies where regular alcohol intake has been the norm for generations. Problems arise not from alcohol consumption per se but from the acceptance of new drinking trends, such as the ingestion of distilled spirits. For example, when drinking customs had been focused for centuries on beer or wine and, over time, it converted to daily drinking in commercial bars following the completion of work. It has happened in societies where drinking was traditionally restricted to festivals and other similar social celebrations.
Sociological interest in ethnic disparities in drinking habits and difficulties has prompted research to determine why certain ethnic groups have meager rates of abstinence from alcohol usage and low rates of alcohol problems.
Orthodox Jews are a remarkable example of this phenomenon. Research has shown distinctive patterns of social control that promote alcohol use yet react swiftly to episodes of drunkenness and abuse. Abstinence norms are a symptom of relatively poor systems of social control over deviant drinking behavior, as demonstrated by research in this field.
Since alcohol is a powerful drug, it is not surprising that age is a social variable that creates significant societal control efforts in industrialized societies such as the United States, with concerns about consuming alcohol among American college students and its consequences resembling a social panic in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Sociologists have a long-standing interest in the family dynamics connected with alcohol. The research resulted in a model detailing how family structures responded to the conduct of the alcoholic husband and father, emphasizing the changes in role expectancies and role connections that often kept families together despite the adult male’s significantly aberrant behavior. Due to these investigations, the notion of “enabling” behaviors has been extensively disseminated in both technical and general literature.
Alcohol and Employment
Sociologists have also researched employed individuals with drinking issues, tackling the subject from two unique angles.
One paradigm examines the pressures inherent in occupations and organizations, as well as how excessive drinking reacts to these situations, which is accurately termed self-medication.
A second method mimics the study literature on the family by examining the group dynamics and power interactions in the workplace that tend to “normalize” and lower the chance of detection of deviant drinking patterns.
In many countries and various periods, the prohibition of the production and use of alcohol has been seen as the comprehensive answer to the issues that drinking causes in various social institutions.
The United States in the 1920s was the most well-known failure of complete prohibition. The rise of a significant temperance movement in the United States, which eventually led to nationwide prohibition, has been well recorded. The reasons for repealing prohibition are more nuanced than conveyed by claims that the experiment was a failure.
Along with the lifting of prohibition, the concept that some drinkers were incapable of controlling their drinking because they suffered from the “disease” of alcoholism became more widespread. This approach significantly negated the need for prohibition for the whole population. Instead, it advocated for identifying and treating the tiny minority who could not use alcohol “normally.”
The supply of alcohol in the United Kingdom is governed by licensing restrictions that date back to the First World War. However, since the conclusion of the Second World War, alcohol consumption has increased in most industrialized nations due to the growing share of family income allocated to leisure activities.
Sociology has a long history of critiquing the mainstream conceptions of alcohol-related issues and the corresponding social policies. For example, there is much criticism about the disease model of alcohol, primarily because effective treatments of such addiction are mainly based on the individual’s “will” rather than external medical interventions.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been the subject of much conceptual and empirical research in related studies examining the dynamics of the processes surrounding alcohol dependency and recovery. Given its potentially damaging consequences, its widespread use, and the legality of its use for the majority of people, it is evident that there is considerable ambiguity among the majority of the globe about the proper and unsuitable uses of alcohol. In most localities, the notion of prohibition has been virtually abandoned, making the problem of appropriate regulations the primary concern.
The vast majority of current sociological research is oriented toward these practical considerations, focusing on the development and evaluation of treatment and prevention strategies, with comprehensive attention recently to limiting college students’ “binge drinking,” drinking and driving, and methods to reduce or eliminate young people’s alcohol consumption, which is frequently linked to crime and delinquency.
There has been an increase in drinking at home, but alcohol is still connected with either elegance and escapism or masculine ideals and bonding. Open pubs and bars are still seen as male turf.
Drinking tendencies are connected to gender. While in most societies, alcohol use and abuse are concentrated among men, industrialization, women’s employment, and the movement toward socioeconomic equality for women appear to be contributing to increasingly similar drinking patterns among men and women, even though drinking parity between men and women is virtually nonexistent in any society.
Drinking has several symbolic connotations, such as ’round-buying’ and other rituals involving reciprocity, inclusion, and exclusion.