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Alcohol and Deviant Behavior - Research Paper Example

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This research paper stresses that alcohol has been seen as a way to both relax and to socialize. It is often the centerpiece of social functions, the drink of choice while important business decisions are sealed, and a constant companion to the lonely…
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Alcohol and Deviant Behavior
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For centuries, alcohol has been seen as a way to both relax and to socialize. It is often the centerpiece of social functions, the drink of choice while important business decisions are sealed, and a constant companion to the lonely. In short order, however, alcohol has also been found to be the source of great heartache and pain. From the drunk driver to the physically abusive, alcohol can quickly alter a person’s mental state to the point that they begin to act irrationally and contrary to social norms. A beverage that exists for enjoyment, then, turns into an agent of death and destruction. Alcohol, when not consumed responsibly, can most certainly cause deviant behavior in an individual. Deviance occurs when an individual no longer adheres to the mores and values of the society in which they live. Such beverages can cause this deviance by eliminating inhibitions, creating a false sense of well being, and causing a desire to engage in risky behavior. For centuries, alcohol has been seen as a way to both relax and to socialize. It is often the centerpiece of social functions, the drink of choice while important business decisions are sealed, and a constant companion to the lonely. In short order, however, alcohol has also been found to be the source of great heartache and pain. From the drunk driver to the physically abusive, alcohol can quickly alter a person’s mental state to the point that they begin to act irrationally and contrary to social norms. A beverage that exists for enjoyment, then, turns into an agent of death and destruction. Alcohol, when not consumed responsibly, can most certainly cause deviant behavior in an individual. Deviance occurs when an individual no longer adheres to the mores and values of the society in which they live. Such beverages can cause this deviance by eliminating inhibitions, creating a false sense of well being, and causing a desire to engage in risky behavior.Eliminating Inhibitions From time to time, we all feel insecure. Perhaps we are unsure of our body image or we feel unable to attract the man or woman of our dreams. No matter what the inhibition, alcohol seems to free us of them. This is particularly true of young people seeking to find an identity group to be a part of. Many refer to this as a ‘culture of intoxication’ as individuals find that “the pursuit of determined drunkenness enables opportunities for social interaction and the building of a sense of belonging” (Fry 1281). This sense of belonging may not exist were it not for this state of drunkenness, or altered state consciousness.  The more a person relies on alcohol, the more they begin to feel that they do not want to belong to the dominant group in society. They do not desire to live the society’s rules; rather they begin to live according to the intoxicated culture that they have chosen to become a part of. This, certainly, is the essence of deviance. A person that was once functioning well in society and was a part of the majority becomes an individual taken by the effects of alcohol (Fry 1283). As such, they lose all inhibition and begin to perform actions that they never would have dreamed of before.The Process of Becoming Deviant as a Result of Alcohol Rather born out of the effects of peer pressure, or simply seen as an avenue of escape, it is documented that “alcohol consumption typically is initiated in adolescence and characterized by steady increases until a peak in the early 20s” (Wiesner 537). Since this age group is more likely to engage in risk behavior than other demographic groups, the effects of alcohol can be particularly troubling.  Alcohol abuse can cause peers to become accepted into groups that mainstream society would consider as being dangerous and risky. These groups often become sexually promiscuous, abusive towards other and themselves, and often find themselves in precarious situations that are difficult to escape from (Treno 1374). When an adolescent begins to exhibit deviant behavior as a result of alcohol or drug use, it can often continue well into adulthood. This evolution into deviance, however, is often different in various cultures.  Germany, for example, is consistently ranked as top country in the world in terms of alcohol consumption. In Germany, the drinking of alcohol is embedded into their culture and is a part of their daily life, beginning in adolescence. As such, research has shown less deviant behavior being exhibited in that country as a result of alcohol abuse, when compared to the United States (Wiesner 546). Deviant behavior likely does not occur simply as a result of alcohol, but the effects are clear. “The time-specific effects of deviant peer association on adolescents’ alcohol use…show serious problems as a potential shared risk factor” (Wiesner 546). An individual may never have thought of behavior, such as rape, but drinking alcohol in a group setting may spur on this type of deviant activity as a result of the combined forces of peer involvement. Conclusion What was once viewed as a pleasurable drink to be enjoyed with a few close friends or family members has turned into a potential social epidemic with no end or cure in sight. We now live in a culture of binge drinking where an evening out is turned more and more into a game of chance. Cruising down the streets of most any major city in the world can clearly see the effects of this behavior. Drunks will be seen staggering in the streets, bars will be filled with patrons whose conversations are incoherent, and frequent fights and acts of violence will rule the night (Peralta 391).  There are many root causes of social deviance. Alcohol is just one of the documented reasons why people begin to act in a manner not consistent with the commonly accepted values of a society. This beverage, however, can be controlled and limited. It is a social problem that does have a cure if society can educate its citizenry to act and drink in a responsible manner. If we continue to live in this culture of intoxication, however, then this very culture of intoxication will continue and heartache will never end. There are no easy answers or solutions, but society would certainly benefit from a closer look at this problem in an effort to begin to rid itself of the ill-effects of alcohol and return this drink back to its rightful place as one simply to be enjoyed and not abused. 
Works CitedFry, Marie-Louise. “Countering Consumption in a Culture of Intoxication”. Journal of  Marketing Management, 26.13 (2010): 1279-1294.Peralta, Robert. “Raced and Gendered Reactions to the Deviance of Drunkenness: A  Sociological Analysis of Race and Gender Disparities in Alcohol Use”. Contemporary Drug Problems, 37.3 (2012): 381-415.Treno, AJ. “Alcohol Outlets, Youth Drinking, and Self-Reported Ease of Access to Alcohol: A Constrains and Opportunities Approach”. Alcoholism, Clinical, and Experimental  Research, 32.8 (2008): 1372-1379.Wiesner, Margi. “Effects of Deviant Peer Association on Adolescent Alcohol Consumption: A  Growth Mixture Modeling Analysis”. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 37.5 (2008): 537- 551. Read More
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