Deviancy And Alcohol

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Society Views Deviancy In Relation To Alcohol Use and Abuse

Society Views Deviancy In Relation To Alcohol Use and Abuse


Alcohol abuse refers to an excessive use of alcoholic beverages, including liquor. An examination of adolescent drinking patterns and problems requires consideration of (1) the quantity and frequency of consumption, (2) alcohol-related negative life consequences, and (3) alcohol-dependence symptoms (Bailey and Rachal, 1993).

The Rodney and Mupier (1997) study lends support to others who maintain that the use and abuse of alcohol by young people is a factor that contributes to criminal behaviors (Greenfield and Weisner, 1995). It is believed that heavy alcohol consumption generates disinhibiting effects that may increase tendencies to risk-taking, antisocial, and violent behaviors. Therefore, young and vulnerable people have an increased risk of and susceptibility to criminal behaviors. Various research studies have shown that (1) among those who criminally offend, rates of alcohol abuse are high; or (2) among those who abuse alcohol, rates of criminal offending are high. Other findings from laboratory-based research have shown in controlled settings that antisocial behaviors, and particularly aggression, tend to increase with increasing alcohol consumption. While the relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and antisocial behaviors can be observed, the pattern of causality in these relationships is still controversial (Wagner, 1996). However, in a study where both observed and unobserved sources of confounding were controlled, Fergusson and Horwood (2000) were able to suggest the presence of a possible causal association between alcohol abuse and juvenile offending. Other researchers found alcohol abuse to be one of the predictors of recidivism among juvenile offenders (Myrner, Santman, Cappelletty, and Perlmutter, 1998).

Deviancy and Alcohol Use

The consequences of alcohol abuse extend beyond deviancy and criminality. A few studies have shown the medical consequences of alcohol abuse in adolescents, such as liver damage and poor language function. Adolescents who abuse alcohol also demonstrate higher rates of multiple drug use. Adolescent alcohol consumption is correlated with the three leading causes of death in this age-group: unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. More than half of all fatal motor vehicle crashes among 15- to 24-year-olds involve alcohol, and approximately half of all homicides in this age-group are associated with alcohol use. National data also suggest that alcohol use is associated with suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Another public health issue is the association between adolescent alcohol consumption and risky sexual behavior. Adolescent alcohol use is associated with earlier initiation of sexual activity, more frequent sexual activity, and less frequent condom use, all of which raise the risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Again, the association between adolescent drinking and these serious negative health risks does not imply a causal relationship.

Some researchers believe that adolescent alcohol use is associated with personality characteristics such as impulsiveness and sensation seeking. It is these underlying personality characteristics, rather than simply alcohol use, that increase the risk for automobile crashes, risky sexual behavior, violence, and suicide.

Alcohol use is said to affect adolescent psychosocial development, such as the development of emerging adolescent competencies, ...
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