Sociologyical Perspectives of Alcohol Dependence

Throughout history, communities that engage in risky behaviour increase the possibility

of destruction to their mind, health and their social behaviour. A major health issue that has affected over 200 million people in the world is alcohol dependence (World Health Organization, 2014). In general, alcohol dependence is when someone is physically, emotionally and psychologically reliant on alcohol. A dependent drinker is very common in society and effects a variety of communities regardless of their gender, age, culture or their indigenous background. Furthermore, people who are reliant on alcohol seem to use it as a stress reliever or to avoid their problems resulting them into sacrificing their family, friends and food over the addiction (Kinner, Dietze, Gouillou, & Alati, 2012). With alcohol dependence being such a major health factor in the world, it is vital for health professionals to look at this issue in a more sociological view. Furthermore, this gives them a better understanding of the underlying context on the particular cultural and social factors that contribute to alcohol dependence. It is important for health professionals to look at the communitys alcohol consumption through their culture or indigenous background to get an understanding as to why different cultures may vary and how to work in a culturally diverse way. In addition, being a culturally diverse health professional means that they take into consideration a variety of religions, cultures and languages when they are considering treatment or assessment for the individual (Germov, 2014). In addition, by determining health outcomes for Australias ethnically diverse population, cultural theories come into place by proposing that alcohol dependence is purely due to the ethnic background of the individual (Germov, 2014). Furthermore, the amount of alcohol consumption increases over certain cultures particularly those who are less fortunate, uneducated, non-religious or have been faced with threats to their culture like the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples.

Hierarchy is shown in ethnic groups by looking at peoples socioeconomic status such as

education, income, living conditions and their accessibility to health services. Healthier communities are shown to be a part of a higher socioeconomic status with easy access to health services and have greater financial support, whereas unhealthy communities are a part of the lower socioeconomic status with limited income and poor living conditions (Sudhinaraset, Wigglesworth, & Takeuchi, 2016). Studies have shown that certain cultures

that are a part of a lower socioeconomic group are faced with health issues such as mental health issues, cancer and diseases. In many cultures another major health factor is alcohol dependence. Additionally, it is a necessity for a health professional to help certain cultures with alcohol dependence. It is important for them to understand the different cultures, their history and also factors that might be the overall reason why the in particular culture is more dependent on alcohol then others. Additionally, there is a number of cultural and social factors that impact a communitys intake of alcohol including discrimination, religion, race and past experiences. Gayle Wells, (2010), states cultural pride and religious affiliation are predicted to have fewer alcohol symptoms. By Gayle presenting a questionnaire towards university students at a secular and a religious university, it showed that people who attend the secular college are 4 times more likely to consume alcohol then those who attend a religious university. This is hypothesised as religious groups consist of having strong beliefs on risky behaviours such as alcohol and drugs, making the individuals that are a part of the religion to follow the religious norms (Wells, 2010). This study was particularly significant to look at with the detailed questionnaire towards the two different universities by using 530 participants to get a reliable result. Although this study was quite significant the results were based on self-report data. Ideally this can impact the results as some students like to present themselves in a healthier way, particularly those who are at the religious university as there is a greater expectation where alcohol use is forbidden. Furthermore, this research did not clearly identify which religions took the test, resulting into it assuming that all religions are the same and all follow the same expectations and guidelines. In addition, another study has portrayed that particular communities that have excessive amounts of alcohol have been faced with traumas in their early childhood life such as abuse, neglect, racial discrimination or parental alcohol addictions (Yu & Stiffman, 2007). ManSoo and Arlene (2007) hypothesized that most children that have grown up with family substance abuse will have a negative impact on these children as they want to try and forget about the tragic events that occurred when they were younger. This research was quite significant with the use of a substantial amount of people and longitudinal studies. However, the study does not focus particularly on culture and tribes, it focuses more on reservation and initiated youths and alcohol instead. It does seem likely by incorporating tribes and a variety of cultures would significantly impact their results. In addition, another cultural contribution towards alcohol dependence is education. Additionally, a study has shown that communities that have higher education are shown to consume less alcohol then those who have minimal education. The reason for this outcome is the fact that people who have a higher education believe that external forces can control their fate rather than a substance (Elliot & Lowman, 2014). This research was very significant as it used a substantial amount of people and it successfully measured the quantity and frequency of the alcohol dependence. However, this studys resource was only assessed in one wave. It does seem likely that by using two waves the results would be more consistent and reliable. By examining different cultures and their connection to alcohol dependence it can be seen that people who are considered a part of a lower socioeconomic status, non-religious and uneducated consume excessive amounts of alcohol compared to those who are of a higher socioeconomic status. Furthermore, this relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as they are seen to be uneducated, non-religious and are a part of the lower socioeconomic status (Elliot & Lowman, 2014).

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples have encountered various health issues and

encompass many health determinants such as poor education, low income and underprivileged living conditions. These determinants result into their health being at risk of depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases. alcohol dependence is another health issue that has major impacts on indigenous wellbeing (Germov, 2014). It is vital for health care practitioners to intervene with the issue of Alcohol dependence associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples to understand the history, why there is a difference in alcohol consumption amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous Australians but also the reasons why many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples misuse alcohol. In addition, due to their experience of being colonised and marginalised they tend to use alcohol as a way to deal with their psychological trauma. Furthermore, the rates of harmful alcohol use amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are about twice the amount of those amongst the non-indigenous population. This is hypothesised that due to the stolen generation creating trauma and grief they felt that drinking excessive amounts would help them deal with it (Kinner et al., 2012). This study primarily focused on the male population in relation to alcohol consumption. However, the study did not consider the impact that alcohol consumption had on the female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-indigenous Australians. It does seem likely that by analysing the womans alcohol consumption levels could possibly have an effect on the results. In addition, studies have shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a higher alcohol consumption rate compared to those who are non-indigenous. This can be shown as no matter what gender you are; indigenous people are still faced with discrimination. It can be seen as a key social stressor towards cultures, eliciting a physiological response resulting into elevated blood pressure and the release of stress hormones. Due to these stress factors discrimination can lead to an increase in alcohol use (Sudhinaraset, Wigglesworth, & Takeuchi, 2016). This study is highly important as it explains the social-ecological framework for clarifying influences on alcohol use towards individuals and the exposure to advertising. However, this study presented some limitations due to the research only being based on a theoretical approach rather than using statistics. Another factor that has been shown to affect the amount of alcohol consumed in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples culture is education. Statistics have shown that only 6.5 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had a university degree compared to 25 percent of non-indigenous Australians (Germov, 2014). Education affects alcohol consumption as people who are more educated believe that external forces can control their fate rather than a substance (Elliot & Lowman, 2014). In addition, due to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples having a lower rate of income, education and health support, it is proven that they are more likely to consume excessive amounts of alcohol then those who are non-indigenous.

Studies have shown that an individuals ethnic background has a major influence on their

alcohol dependence. Furthermore, this indicates them following a social theory called Culturalist explanation. This theory talks about how their explanations are based on simplistic accounts of explanations. They emphasise the significance of how ethnicity effects health. The theory explains how different cultures are faced with different health circumstances (Germov, 2014). In addition, by looking at Gayle wells research it presented a culturalist explanation as the research has not examined the complex ways in which culture effects health. Their hypothesis instead assumed that religious students wouldnt consume alcohol as much as the non-religious students. They assume this due to their research presenting that all people who have a cultural background of religion dont consume much alcohol as they have certain expectations that they have to meet. Another study that also presents a Culturalist explanation is Elliot & Lowman, (2014). Additionally, this study talked about how people that are uneducated are likely to consume more alcohol then those who are educated. This study follows a culturalist explanation as it is assuming that everyone that comes from an uneducated background drinks more alcohol. In addition, these studies have shown that by looking at peoples ethnic background it closely relates to their health, illness and their alcohol dependence.

Alcohol consumption is a growing issue that is affecting millions every year. Furthermore, this issue is best describes as the misuse of alcohol to accommodate for happiness, relaxation and to be a stress reliver for their money or culture issues (Germov, 2014). With alcohol being such a major health factor in todays society it is important that this issue is seen by health professionals. This will ensure that they understand the history of the culture, why there is a difference in alcohol consumption amongst different cultures and also the reasons to why some cultures would conceive more alcohol then other cultures. Furthermore, studies have shown there is higher rates of alcohol dependence on people who are part of a non-religious culture, who are low socioeconomically, are Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples, and are uneducated or have family members who have the addiction (Wells, 2010). Some reasons why these certain cultures have been shown to consume higher amounts of alcohol is because religious cultures have expectations that individuals have to meet whereas non-religious people dont (Wells, 2010). Low socioeconomic people have limited links to health services whereas high socioeconomic people have a better access to health services and financial support (Sudhinaraset, Wigglesworth, & Takeuchi, 2016). Uneducated people rely on the substance for their fate whereas educated people believe that external forces can control their fate rather than a substance. Lastly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples have been faced with an experience of a lack of control as they had been colonised and marginalised due to the stolen generation therefore influencing their alcohol consumption (Kinner, Dietze, Gouillou, & Alati, 2012). To conclude, there are many cultural aspects that contribute to a persons alcohol consumption and it is important for health professions to understand and examine these aspects as it will allow them to provide the best treatment for certain clients.

Reference List

  • Elliot, M., & Lowman, J. (2014, March 30). Education, income and alcohol misuse: a stress
  • process model.Springer Link, 50(1), 19-26.
  • Germov, J. (2014).Second Opinion: An introduction to health sociology.South Melbourne,
  • Victoria, Australia.
  • Kinner, S. A., Dietze, P. M., Gouillou, M., & Alati, R. (2012, June 28). Prevalence and
  • correlates of alcohol dependence in adult prisoners vary according to Indigenous status.
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 36(4).
  • Sudhinaraset, M., Wigglesworth, C., & Takeuchi, D. T. (2016). Social and Cultural Contexts of
  • alcohol use inflences in a social-ecological framework.Alcohol Research Current Reviews,
  • 38(1), 35-45.
  • Wells, G. M. (2010). The Effect of Religiosity and Campus Alcohol Culture on Collegiate
  • Alcohol Consumption.Journal Of American College Health, 295-304.
  • World Health Organization. (2014).Global Status report on alcohol and health.
  • Yu, M., & Stiffman, A. R. (2007, October). Culture and environment as predictors of alcohol
  • abuse/dependence symptoms in American Indian Youths.Science Direct, 32(10), 2253-
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