ALCOHOL AND DRUGS Sociology 102
From a pharmacologicalviewpoint a drug is any substance other than food that alters the structure and function of an organism Medical definition - substance used to prevent or treat a disease Sociological definition - a drug is any habit- forming chemical that affects the brain, consciousness, physiological functions and is harmful to the individual and society
How drugs are viewed in society is based on both the objective and subjective perceptions of the problem in society Objective aspect of drug use is related to the harm the drug causes to the individual or society Subjective aspect of a drug is based on perceptions surrounding the use and effects of various drugs on the individual and society
There is often a discrepancy between subjective perceptions of the impact of a drug on behavior and society and the objective impact • An example of the discrepancy between the objective aspect and subjective aspect of a drug is the marijuana controversy
The U.S. and federal and state governments spend about $40 billion annually on the War on Drugs and climbing. http://www.drugsense.org/wodclock.htm
Definitions of terms • Drug abuse - use to the extent that the drug causes harm to the user • Addiction- physiological dependence. It is the intense craving for a drug that develops after a period of physical dependence • This occurs when the body has adjusted to the presence of a drug and will suffer pain, discomfort, or illness - the symptoms of withdrawal - if its use is discontinued.
Psychological dependence - drug users needs the drug for feeling of well being. • Habituation - sometimes used to mean psychological dependence.
Nicotine (a drug found in tobacco) is the most addictive, followed by heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. • Second from the bottom is caffeine and the least addictive of the commonly used drugs is marijuana.
Alcohol • Alcohol is one of the drugs that causes most trouble in society because of its wide social acceptance Americans consume an average of • 22 gallons of beer • 2.0 gallons of wine, and • 1.5 gallons of distilled spirits a year • Adults consume more beer on average than milk or coffee (U.S. Bureau of the Census). • Alcohol is a depressant - it depresses the activity of the central nervous system and thereby impedes coordination, reaction time, and reasoning ability
Alcohol is integrated in society • Americans tend to be ambivalent about alcohol and its use • The view that alcohol is a social problem has varied over time
The national Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey (1995) reported that 7.41 percent of adults in the United States meet current criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. • The National Council on Alcoholism and drug Dependence estimates that about 76 million Americans have been affected by an alcoholic family member Alcoholics have an uncontrollable need for intoxication.
HEALTH PROBLEMS • Chronic alcohol abuse is linked to cardiovascular problems such as • inflammation and enlargement of the heart muscle, • poor blood circulation, • high blood pressure, and disorders such as stroke • Alcoholic cirrhosis is the ninth most frequent cause of death in the USA • Over a long period, large amounts of alcohol destroy liver cells, which are replaced by scar tissue. • Alcoholics can expect to die 10 to 12 years sooner than other people
Abuse of alcohol and other drugs by a pregnant woman can damage the unborn fetus • The greatest risk of fetal alcohol syndrome • Alcohol is implicated in about 40 percent of all fatal highway accidents • Automobile accidents involving intoxicated drivers are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States • Alcoholics have a suicide rate six to fifteen times greater than the rate for the general population
Approximately 7 out 10 drowning victims had been drinking prior to their deaths.
Who Drinks? Biological Factors – Alcoholism is in part due to biological factors • recent genetic studies have demonstrated that close relatives of an alcoholic are four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves • Genes play a direct role in the development of alcoholism by affecting some manner how the body metabolizes alcohol
the risk holds true even for children who were adopted away from their biological families at birth and raised in a nonalcoholic adoptive family • Some studies have failed to show a biological connection and instead stress that drinking is a learned behavior
Gender and Age • Most studies indicate that men drink regularly more often (about 58 percent) than women (about 44 percent). • Alcohol is by far the most frequently used illicit drug among teenagers. • In general young people consume more alcohol than older individuals • Drinking patterns in the teen years are similar for both males and females. • Heavy drinking among men is most common at ages 21 to 30; among women it occurs at ages 31 to 50
Drinking is a growing problem among young adults • In 2003 about half of twelfth graders and 20 percent of ninth graders reported drinking in the past month • Binge drinking among high-school and college students is a problem
Gender and Age • As many as one in three college students qualifies as an alcohol abuser • College students in the U.S. spend more money per year on alcohol (5.5 billion) than they do on books and all other nonalcoholic beverages combined • The proportion of problem drinkers within black and white groups is about the same • Latino males have the high rates of alcohol use, and Latino females have a high rate of abstention.
Socioeconomic Factors • Some studies show that people in middle and upper classes are less likely to be heavy drinkers or have high rates of alcoholism • but other studies show that alcohol consumption and abuse tend to be higher in the middle and upper classes than in the lower class. • Drinking appears to be most frequent among younger men at higher socioeconomic levels and least frequent among older women at lower levels.
Cultural Influences • Growing up with routine and comfortable exposure to alcohol in the family tends to reduce problem drinking during adulthood
Treatment Alcoholic Anonymous • AA appears to be the most successful large-scale program for dealing with alcoholism. • There is an estimated 2 million members of AA • This approach sees alcoholism as an allergy in which even one drink can produce an intolerable craving for more
Patterns of Drug Abuse • Who Uses Drugs? • Drug use is related to age • Drug use peaked among young adults in the 1970’s then declined and began to rise after 1993 • There is an inverse correlation between teenagers’ disapproval of drug use and drug use • Drug experimentation is higher among men than women
Who Uses Drugs? • Groups with less income report higher drug use • Drug use is highest among Whites and Hispanics and lowest among African-Americans • How Does Drug Use Spread? • Drug use is learned • Howard Becker’s study of marijuana user’s • Marijuana is an active placebo
Marijuana • Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug. • About 1 in 3 Americans acknowledge having tried marijuana, but only about 1 in 20 is classified as a current user. • Marijuana high impairs reaction time and coordination and therefore makes driving or operating other machinery more dangerous. • Is Marijuana a “gateway drug”?
Tobacco • In 1965, 42 percent of adults age 18 and older smoked: by 1995 the proportion had declined to about 25 percent • The nicotine in tobacco is a toxic, dependency-producing psychoactive drug that is more addictive than heroin • In addition to the nicotine, smokers inhale various coal tars, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and other ingredients that increase the chances of contracting lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, and bronchitis.
Tobacco • According to the latest estimates, 419,000 Americans will die of tobacco-related causes (about 3 million worldwide) • According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco addition kills more Americans than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, fires, car accidents and AIDS - combined • Men smoke more than women, but the use of tobacco has been declining more rapidly among men
Tobacco • Among young adults (18-25) more women now smoke than men • Infants born to women who smoke typically have lower than average birth weight and sometimes slower rates of physical and mental growth • High school seniors who are not planning to attend college are three times more likely to smoke half a pack a day than college-bound seniors. • Those who drop out of high school are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes daily than are those who remain in high school though graduation.