Behavioral effects of Alcohol Essay

Submitted By ejtaylor10
Words: 975
Pages: 4

Eric Taylor
J. Bozsik
English 101A
2 October 2014
Behavioral Effects of Alcohol Throughout History, alcohol as played a large role in every society. Most people use it to celebrate or to socialize, but it can also be abused like most controlled substances. When alcohol is consumed, the liver attempts to break it down. Alcohol that is unable to be broken down by the liver is then distributed throughout the body, including the brain. Once it reaches the brain it can impair movement, speech, judgment, and cause impulsiveness. It has always been thought that alcohol has these same effects on everyone. Research done in different countries shows that in some cultures, alcohol is associated with aggression, and violence, while in others the consumption of alcohol is a harmonious and peaceful affair. Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker, wrote an article on the effects of alcohol titled Drinking Games. It is his belief that people that are drunk will behave differently depending on their current environment or how drinking is viewed by their society. Gladwell also suggests that although people tend to be more aggressive when they consume alcohol, it is not directly related to aggression. Studies indicate that the behavioral effects of alcohol are mostly determined by social and cultural factors as opposed to the chemical reaction alcohol has on the body All alcoholic beverages contain the same type of alcohol, ethanol, yet, the people who consume it do not all display the same behaviors. All cultures act differently when drunk because they all view drinking differently. In an article written by Stanton Peele titled How Culture Influences the Way People Drink he stated, “...In those cultures where drinking is integrated into religious rites and social customs, where the place and manner of consumption are regulated by tradition and where, moreover, self-control, sociability, and `knowing how to hold one's liquor' are matters of manly pride, alcoholism problems are at a minimum, provided no other variables are overriding” (Peele). In cultures where drinking is religious or a social custom, characteristics of alcoholism do not appear because it is not the alcohol that causes disruptive behavior, it is the environment of the drinker. Gladwell uses The Camba as an example of this. “The group would sit in a circle. Someone might play the drums or a guitar. A bottle of rum, from one of the sugar refineries in the area, and a small drinking glass were placed on a table. The host stood, filled the glass with rum, and then walked toward someone in the circle. He stood before the “toastee,” nodded, and raised the glass. The toastee smiled and nodded in return. The host then drank half the glass and handed it to the toastee, who would finish it. The toastee eventually stood, refilled the glass, and repeated the ritual with someone else in the circle. When people got too tired or too drunk, they curled up on the ground and passed out, rejoining the party when they awoke. The Camba did not drink alone. They did not drink on work nights. And they drank only within the structure of this elaborate ritual” (Gladwell) They drink laboratory grade alcohol in huge quantities every weekend but never have aggressive or violent tendencies. They have a specific way in which they drink and since they drink in a controlled manner they don’t become aggressive or stray from that ritual. In America, we associate drinking with being rowdy and disruptive, while in most other parts of the world the consumption of alcohol does not lead to disorderly behavior. Studies suggest that beliefs and expectancies with drinking within a culture can influence how drinkers behave. In an article from The Social Issues Research Centre, they state that “Societies with generally positive beliefs and expectancies about alcohol (variously defined as ‘non-Temperance’, ‘wet’, ‘Mediterranean’ or ‘integrated’ drinking-cultures)…