Essay, Research Paper: College Paper On Alcohol And Drugs

Alcohol and Drugs

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Alcoholism and alcohol abuse is a growing problem in our society. Daily, people
are injured and killed in alcohol-related accidents and this has an effect on
each and every person as a result of these occurrences. Whether we are
personally involved or have directly suffered from the activities of someone who
is under the influence of alcohol, we all suffer from the negative consequences
of alcohol. Since we have those who choose to abuse these privileges we need to
develop consequences for them. By learning what leads people to drink alcohol,
and how this affects their lives, we can then determine what actions need to be
taken to help remove ourselves from our ever-increasing attraction to alcohol.
Because the abuse of alcohol often begins with adolescents and young adults,
most research is based around them. At this particular time in life we hope to
find out why these young adults choose to drink, and what motivates them to
drink. Michael and Rebecca C. Windle, in their research, were able to show
several reasons that provided incentives for adolescents to consume alcohol.
Using a written survey, it was determined that the high-school students being
studied used alcohol to cope with problems in their lives, including
"task-oriented", "emotion-oriented", and "avoidance
coping (Windle & Windle, 1996, p. 551)." The only major discrepancies
in results between the sexes became obvious when it was shown by Windle and
Windle that girls were more likely to use alcohol for avoidance and
emotion-oriented coping than were boys, but the boys were more likely to have
alcohol problems (Windle & Windle, 1996). Also found was that adolescents
drank less often for social reasons than for the aforementioned coping reasons (Windle
& Windle, 1996). However, coping motives were responsible for an increased
consumption of alcohol (Windle & Windle, 1996). A surprising result of this
study was that the students drank more frequently as a result of positive daily
events than negative daily events (Windle & Windle, 1996). This suggests
that while young people do drink because they are unhappy with certain events in
their lives, they are more likely to drink because something good has happened
to them recently. Alcoholism is also thought to be passed genetically from
parents to their children. By comparing males with a family history of
alcoholism to males with a history without alcoholism, we can determine the
relationship between genetics, alcoholism, and alcoholic children. While
frequency and quantity of alcoholic consumption of children of alcoholics (COA's)
and non-COA's were similar, COA's were more than twice as likely to be
diagnostically determined alcoholics than were the non-COA's (Finnet al., 1997).
This shows that one can drink as much as an alcoholic, but not actually be an
alcoholic one's self. This may contribute to a lack of social understanding of
alcoholism, as we tend to think of an alcoholic as someone who frequently drinks
alcohol, when, instead, the definition of an alcoholic must be changed to
someone genetically pre-disposed to alcoholism or addiction. Another approach to
researching alcoholism was exercised by Sher, Wood, Wood and Raskin. They showed
the differences between expectancies related to alcohol of COA's and non-COA's
over a four-year period of time. What was found was that COA's drank much more
frequently to reduce tension, become more social, make activities more
interesting and perform better than non-COA's did (Sher et al., 1996). This
could result from a more familiar approach to alcohol, as it presumably had an
effect on the early years of each young adult. At the same time, there was a
general decrease in drinking for these reasons from the time the study began to
its completion four years later (Sher et al., 1996). This research gives us
important insight into reasons for alcohol use, and could provide better
treatment for alcoholic COA's than is currently being provided. Somewhat similar
to the above research, was that of Chassin, Curran, Hussong and Colder. These
four psychologists were able to show a non-genetic relationship between fathers,
their adolescent children, and peers of the adolescents. They found that COA's
"substance use growth curve started at a significantly higher level than it
did for non-COA's... (Chassin et al., 1996, p. 74)" meaning that not only
did the adolescents use alcohol (among other substances), but they used more
than did their non-COA peers. Also, when a COA was combined with drug-using
peers, the adolescent was even more likely to have a significantly higher use of
alcohol (Chassin et al., 1996). This research also shows that children of
alcoholic mothers also "showed steeper substance use growth (Chassin et
al.,1996, p. 74)" than non-COA's but there generally was not a large effect
on the adolescents. A hypothesis offered by Chassin Curran, Hussong and Colder
on reasons for increased alcohol use was the following: In terms of the
parenting pathway, both maternal and paternal alcoholism were related to
decreased paternal monitoring (although the relation was only marginally
significant for fathers' alcoholism). In turn, adolescents whose fathers
reported lower levels of moitoring were more likely to associate with drug-using
peers, and these peer associations predicted increases in substance use over
time. Adolescents whose fathers reported less monitoring of their behavior also
had higher initial substance use levels (Chassin et al., 1996, p. 75). From
this, we can deduce that parental alcoholism is not the only cause of increased
alcohol abuse among adolescents, but rather the additional aspects that come
along with having an alcoholic parent. These aspects may include spending less
time with one's child and external expressions of alcoholism (violence,
depression, etc) that may cause a child to deal as infrequently as possible with
the alcoholic parent. A great deal of research is going into studying the
effects and consequences of alcoholism and alcohol use today. This is necessary
to provide rehabilitation and other help to alcoholics, as from research, an
addiction is not necessarily created, but born. We can all benefit, emotionally,
financially and otherwise from a better understanding of alcoholism.
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