Alcohol Addiction Essay
It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the problem of addiction, which affects many individuals, families and communities everyday. This essay is going to look at the prevalence of addiction in Scotland and what the Scottish Government are proposing to do to reduce the damage caused by addiction. There are many other stakeholders in the scheme to make Scotland a better place these are: individuals themselves, friends, family, communities, local governments and the National Health Service. Everyone is working together to try and make Scotland a better and safer place to live.
The definition of addiction has changed so many times over the years from when people believed that addiction was basically “a physiological adaptation to the presence of a drug in the body so that the absence of the drug leads to physiological dysfunction which is manifest to the sufferer as unpleasant or even life-threatening ‘withdrawal symptoms'” (West and Hardy, 2006). This definition howeve takes into consideration the idea that an addiction only has a physiological effect on the body rather than a psychological one. Now, addiction is to be defined as “a syndrome at the centre of which is impaired control over a behaviour, and this loss of control is leading to significant harm” (West and Hardy, 2006). One of the main reasons that the definition has changed so many times is the fact that addiction is socially defined rather than having a matter of fact definition of an object.
It has been found that everyone is addicted to something; however, it may not be an illegal substance. It can range from anything that is immediately harmful like drugs to some other substances that become dangerous in larger quantities. Many people have become addicted to things such as exercise, food and gambling. Although these do not seem to be dangerous, addiction is more of a lifestyle and therefore addicts normally only live to get their next ‘fix’. So if done too often can become harmful, for example, putting on too much weight from eating a lot of food is psychologically damaging as well as bad for your mental health. Whereas shopping and gambling can put you in serious money debt, which in turn may cause a distress and psychological problems.
Although there are many different types of addiction this essay is going to look at alcoholism in particular. An alcoholic is defined as a person who has “a tolerance for alcohol, they are dependent on alcohol, and the develop withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is terminated” (Bennett and Holloway, 2005). Unlike other substances alcoholics tend to start in lower doses and work up to higher. In the UK, the recommended daily intake of alcohol, for men is 21 and women are 14 units. However, in 2008, it was found that “50% of men and 30% of women are regularly drinking of the sensible drinking guidelines”. Because of this, the Scottish Government has started to make many changes to the way alcohol is sold. This essay will look at the different effects that alcohol addiction has on a person’s life and what strategies the Government have put in to place.
Many researches have taken place to determine whether or not there is a single gene that can decide whether a person will become dependant on alcohol in their life and without any proof it is understood that there is no genes that can influence this. However, there are countless factors that influence the prevalence of a person becoming an alcoholic from the environment they live in to the choices they make. In recent research carried out by the Scottish Government it was found that “One in 4 women consume alcohol during pregnancy”.
Foetuses can become dependent on the alcohol that the mother is drinking throughout the pregnancy. This can also mean that the foetus can develop some kind of alcohol related birth defects, such a “malformations, growth retardation and abnormalities, which have ‘considerable individual variation'”. The environment that a child grows up in also plays a role in the way a person views alcohol. If a child grows up with parents who are either alcoholics themselves it is very likely that the child will start drinking at a younger age so therefore increasing their risk of alcohol dependency in later years.
It has been found that male and females react differently to addiction, as women tend to start at lower doses than men, however they are increase their dosage at a higher rate than men. This is still the same when it comes down to dealing with addiction, women are more like to go and get help than men.
With lack of quality education in the most deprived areas of Scotland many people are unemployed. It is these people with no real life prospects that turn to alcohol. With alcohol dependency being more of a lifestyle, an addicts life is very chaotic, only making sure they have enough money for the alcohol they need. Addiction can also be difficult for family and social life, as addicts are usually unable to look after children or other family member. This can lead to breakdown of families and communities, which can add more violence to an area. The government have estimated that “alcohol misuse costs Scotland £2.25 billion every year”. This figure includes all of the social problems that alcohol misuse creates. For instance paying for the NHS to treat people who have had accidents while being intoxicated or domestic abuse cause by alcohol. In the policy the government aimed to reduce the alcohol related hospital admission by 2011.
(Scot Gov, 2011)
Scotland is well known around the world for the drinking and the whisky that the country produces. In a study that was carried out by Biggar Economics (Blackett, G. 2013) in 2012, it found that the whisky industry employs a massive 10,284 workers in Scotland and had a turnover of £3,940 million in 2008. A survey was carried out to find if Scots enjoy a night better if they are drinking alcohol. It showed that 32% of people said that they found it easier and of the 32%, 42% of them were men. In the UK alone Scotland has the highest mortality rate out of each country. Scotland (26 deaths per 100,000 people) has double the amount of deaths by alcohol than England (13 deaths per 100,000 people). To reduce alcohol related violence the government put forward legislation to stop nightclubs from serving their drinks in glasses and serve them in plastic cups instead. This meant that let people were being injured from broken glass being thrown.
“Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action (2009)” is a follow on policy from a, well received by the public, discussion paper, “Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol”, where they proposed different ways to reduce alcohol misuse in Scotland. The policy states that alcohol is a bigger problem than anybody realised with many factor contributing to it such as, “socio-economic, cultural, educational, community-based, health-related, or linked to individual behaviors and choices” (Sturgeon, N. 2009). The main stakeholders of the policy are the Scottish Government, local Governments, health organisations (NHS), individuals and the alcohol trade market. The policy starts by stating the main reason that the alcohol misuse is becoming such a problem in Scotland, which is the fact that it has become so affordable, it is now “70% more affordable than in 1980” (Sturgeon, N. 2009).
The main aim of the policy is to reduce alcohol consumption by supporting individuals and communities by improving their own attitude towards the ever-growing problem of alcohol misuse. The first thing that the government want to do is ban off-sales from selling alcohol as a loss leader to bring customers into their premises. The way to enforce this was to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. This also meant that shops could no longer advertise alcohol based on price reduction alone. Another aim of the policy was to raise the legal age for buying alcohol from off sale to 21. There were mixed votes, with were in favour” (Sturgeon, N. 2009). In a test run of the project in Cupar, Stenhousemuir and Armadale, only running on Friday and Saturday evening, it was found that there was a reduction in anti-social areas in all three area. However, with so many people being against it the Scottish Government have refrained from putting this in force.
“Plan for action on alcohol problems: update (2007)” is policy written by the Scottish government as an update of the “Plan for action on alcohol problems (2002)”. The main stakeholders of this policy are the Scottish Government, Local Government, the Scottish education system, individuals, health organisations (NHS) and the alcohol trade industry. One of the first aims of the policy is to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and alcohol misuse. This is in hope that if they educate the young people then when they grow up and become the age of legally being able to drunk that they will have enough knowledge and education to be able to handle it with care and therefore reducing alcohol misuse in the future. The Scottish government have introduced the “Alcohol. Don’t Push It” campaign, set out to not only educating the young people but everyone of all ages not to abuse alcohol but rather to have it as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The Scottish Government has put in “£13 million over 2005/06 and 2006/07 to support local alcohol treatment, support and prevention activities” (Kerr, A. 2007).
This shows that they are trying to tackle local authorities to ensure that they have the knowledge and support to be able to educe their alcohol misuse problems themselves. It has been found that “the number of liquor licences in Scotland has increased by 23%”(Kerr, A. 2007). This is making alcohol more and more accessible meaning that people are able to drink to so much excess with alcohol being sold in off-licenses, supermarkets, pubs and little local shops. “Alcohol-related industries are estimated to employ around 155,000 people (6% of total employment in Scotland) (Kerr, A. 2007)” This means that a lot of people’s livelihood relies on the production and sale of alcohol in Scotland and if sales decrease too much these people lose out. The UK Government receives taxes of “7% of total Customs and Excise revenue” (Kerr, A. 2007) from alcohol alone. This means that if the alcohol sales were to go down they would lose out on money however, saying that they would also save the money that they currently spend on the restoring the problems that alcohol misuse cause, such as treating people that have illnesses relating to alcohol.
When providing alcohol all premises have to have a license to allow the to do this. The Alcohol Etc. (Scotland) Act 2010 was written by the Scottish Government to ensure that all premises were following the laws and regulations of their license. The main stakeholders in this act are the Scottish Government and the alcohol sales industry. The act outlines the rule and regulations for the sale and pricing of alcohol. The act states that if “A package containing two or more alcoholic products (whether of the same or different kinds) may only be sold on the premises at a price equal to or greater than the sum of the prices at which each alcoholic product is for sale on the premises” (Anon. 2011).
This means that if two products are packaged together that they must be sold for at least the price of the products if they were sold separately if they are also sold separately on the same premises. The act also states that a premise must have a scheme in place to make sure that age verification is being carried. Many place take the ‘Think 25’ approach, where they must ask verification of anyone who looks aged 25 or under. This is to ensure that young people who look older than they are are being checked for identification. This is one way the Scottish Government are trying to reduce the underage drinking in Scotland.
Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was put into place to ensure that alcohol was not being sold at too much of a reduced price. The reason for this is to stop alcohol being made too accessible, especially to people who are not able to afford the necessities such as food, water and safe shelter. An equation was put in to place to ensure that everyone was complying with the same legislation, it was: “MPU x S x V x 100” (Anon. 2011). MPU is maximum price per unit, S is Strength of the Alcohol and V is the Volume of alcohol.
In conclusion of this essay, alcohol misuse is still a major problem in Scotland to this day but with the leadership of the government and the help of every individual, community and local government then hopefully in the future we can say that Scotland is still as social and hospitable as ever. The only change will be that there is a decrease in the deaths, injuries and social problems cause by alcohol.
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Anon. 2010. Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010. Published by the Scottish Government. Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2010/18/contents
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