Alcohol Abuse: External and Internal Perspectives

Addiction, overall, and alcohol abuse, in particular, remain one of the biggest public health threats to modern society. Although economic and psychological aspects of the problem are widely addressed, the social implications and costs of alcoholism are often unacknowledged. Despite the lack of insight, the issue creates numerous dangers for both society and the abuser himself. This paper will examine the social costs of alcohol abuse problems, in particular, the external rise of violence and the private stigma surrounding addiction.

Firstly, alcohol dependence, as a global issue, causes numerous external damages to the society, surroundings, and close social circle of the abuser. For instance, the consistent rise in violence can be considered one of the most dramatic changes directly caused by alcohol abuse. Joshua links excessive alcohol usage with “costs associated with crime and motor vehicle accidents, injuries to the drunken drivers and others, material damage from accidents, hospitalization” (64). As the aggressiveness in alcohol-dependent people grows as a result of their addiction, more damage is done to other people, public spaces, and society overall. According to researchers, “From a healthcare perspective, only costs pertaining to healthcare are relevant; however, a social perspective includes an increase in crime, costs of law enforcement and rehabilitation” (Joshua 65). Ferguson managed to connect psychological health and substance dependency with a criminal offense by tracking what exactly creates the global issue of violence. According to Ferguson, a significant portion of crime among the adolescent age group is caused by the offenders’ alcohol use (3). Consequently, it can be concluded that alcohol dependency causes damage not only to the individual but also to the community.

While people who suffer from this addiction experience issues from both medical and psychological perspectives, their social exclusion also creates a stigma that diminishes their quality of life and leads to internal social damage. “Some of the harm connected to heavy drinking arises from social reactions to drinking and intoxicated behavior; drunkenness is stigmatized, particularly when the drinker is poor” (World Health Organization 16). As a rarely addressed discrimination, it imposes harmful perceptions that later lead to worsening the patient’s addiction and, consequently, reducing the likelihood of their recovery. Furthermore, stigma is rated as one of the most likely barriers to recovery and successful social integration (Hammarlund et al. 116). Unlike many other implications like violence and economic costs, discrimination is the primary reason that affects psychological health and stops people from seeking help. As WHO notes, “In part reflecting the stigma, reverse causation can also play a role; for very heavy drinkers, the drinking may reduce their employability and social standing” (16). Thus, when an addicted person is mistreated, that leads to them being more psychologically dependent on their drug of choice, which then loops back to the negative perception and lack of recovery.

In conclusion, both external effects of alcoholism in the form of criminal activity and internal costs like discrimination are some of the reasons why substance abuse is a pressing issue in modern communities. Although alcohol addiction’s external costs appear immense, the hidden social difficulties like stigma and associated psychological stress lead to the inability to recover. Substance dependence is linked with heightened violence and is one of the leading reasons for public health threats like traffic accidents. However, these complications can be avoided if social stigma is eliminated.

Works Cited

Ferguson, Julianna, The Relationship Between Juvenile Alcohol Abuse, Depression, and Violence. 2018. PhD dissertation. University of Maine Research Commons. Web.

Hammarlund, Rebecca et al. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, vol. 9, Nov 2018, pp. 115-136. Informa UK Limited.

Joshua, John. The Economics of Addictive Behaviours, 2017, pp. 59-71. Springer International Publishing.

World Health Organization. Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018: Executive Summary. WHO, Geneva, 2018.

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