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Substance abuse: Alcohol Consumption and alcohol dependence among the youth (Социологическое исследование проблемы алкоголизма среди студентов)

                                                             ICEF, GROUP 2/2

                                                       Tutor: Yulia Poltorak

                                                    Student: Matyukhin Anton

                         reSearch Paper on Sociology

                              Substance abuse:

         Alcohol Consumption and alcohol dependence among the youth.

      Международный институт экономики и финансов, 2 курс, Высшая школа


 . Reasons for choosing this topic.
 . The concept of alcohol.
      V What is alcohol?
      V Factors that influence alcohol’s effect.
      V Immediate effects of alcohol.
 . The concept of alcohol dependence (alcoholism).
      V What is alcoholism?
      V What are the symptoms?
      V Three distinct stages of alcoholism.
      V Long- term effects of alcohol.
      V Treating alcoholism.
 . Sociological research.
      V Reasons for choosing the questionnaire as a method of my survey and
        a sample design.
      V The list of questions.
      V The analysis of a data received.
 . Literature used.

Reasons for choosing this topic.

   Though all people  know  the  truth  about  the  unprecedented  guile  of
alcohol drinks, many of them fall in its skilfully set  up  traps.  This  is
because of the character  of  alcohol,  which  can  force  to  like  itself,
despite its harmful, sick and dissolute nature.
   One sage said: “Wine brings four qualities to everyone,  who  drinks  it.
In the beginning, a person starts looking like  a  peacock-  he  puffs,  his
motions are sail and dignified. Then, he gains a  nature  of  a  monkey  and
begins jesting and playing with  everyone.  Afterwards,  he  likens  himself
with a lion and becomes presumptuous, proud, sure of his power. But  at  the
end he changes into a pig and wallows in dirt”.
   The worst thing is that  drunkards  and  alcoholics,  being  carriers  of
negative views and stereotypes of antisocial behaviour, not only  constantly
break the rules  and  norms  of  behaviour  in  different  scopes  of  vital
activity of people,  but  also  actively  promote  the  involvement  in  the
drunkenness people around them, especially young.
   It is stated by many studies that each  drunkard  and  alcoholic  renders
demoralising influence on the  average  of  4-5  persons  from  the  nearest
   For many centuries people tried to find  the  most  effective  facilities
and ways of protecting the humanity from the ruinous influence  of  alcohol.
They tried to develop measures on eliminating the multiple bad  consequences
of drunkenness and alcoholism, primarily the measures on rescuing,  bringing
back to a normal life a constantly increasing number of victims of alcohol.
   The history of anti-alcoholic struggle has left many  examples  of  using
in these purposes different measures up to such radical, as a conclusion  of
drunkards  in  prisons,  their   physical   punishment,   executions,   full
prohibition of production and selling of alcohol drinks, e.t.c.  However,  a
consumption of alcohol continued to grow steadily, covering new  groups  and
layers of populations.
   On the one hand one  can  suggest  a  continuous  growing  of  the  world
alcohol consumption to be due to a weak efficiency of measures used  by  the
mankind against the dangerous social phenomena, on the  other  –  due  to  a
significant reinforcement of  reasons  and  conditions,  causing  the  broad
masses of population to fall in the alcohol dependence.
    Until  a  recent  time,  the  insufficient  theoretical  development  of
questions, associated with spreading of an alcoholic consumption,  one-sided
explanation of reasons of drunkenness and  alcoholism  rendered  a  negative
influence upon the contents and direction  of  anti-alcoholic  struggle,  on
its strategy and tactics. Practice of an anti-alcoholic struggle shows  that
solving of concrete questions on  warning  and  a  displacing  the  negative
phenomenas is impossible without  a  deep  study  of  the  reasons,  causing
consumption of alcohol beverages and promoting spreading a  drunkenness  and
   That is why I chose this topic to be  discussed  in  my  work.  I  really
consider it to  be  a  social  problem  almost  as  essential  as  the  drug
dependence. Unfortunately, I have a lack of time  and  experience  to  cover
all the aspects of it and to make a  deep  sociological  investigation,  but
nevertheless I’ll try to do my best.

The concept of alcohol.
What is alcohol?
   The active  ingredient  in  all  alcoholic  beverages  is  ethyl  ethanol
(alcohol), which is produced by  yeast  cells  acting  on  carbohydrates  in
fruits and grains. Ethyl  alcohol  works  much  like  ether,  acting  as  an
anaesthetic to put the brain to sleep. Alcohol is a central  nervous  system
depressant  that  slows  down  body  functions  such  as  heart   rate   and
respiration. Small quantities of alcohol may induce feelings of  well  being
and relaxation; but in  larger  amounts,  alcohol  can  cause  intoxication,
sedation,  unconsciousness  and  even  death.  There  are  three  types   of
alcoholic beverages:
* Beer is fermented from grains and contains three to six percent alcohol.

* Wine is fermented from fruit  and  normally  contains  12  to  14  percent
alcohol. Fortified wines have additional alcohol added and contain 18 to  20
percent alcohol. Wine coolers are a mixture of fruit juice, sugar,  and  red
or white wine, and contain four to seven percent alcohol (approximately  the
same alcoholic content as beer)

* Liquor is made from distilled (boiled off) alcohol and contains 40  to  50
percent alcohol. This is expressed as degrees of  proof  (two  proof  equals
one percent alcohol). For example, 80 proof liquor is 40 percent alcohol.
Factors that influence alcohol’s effect.
   Drinking has different effects on different people, and the  same  amount
of alcohol can affect the same person differently  on  different  occasions.
Four factors influence how alcohol affects people:
   Amount of Alcohol. The more alcohol, the stronger the effects.  A  person
may drink beer, wine, or whiskey; what matters  is  the  amount  of  alcohol
that is consumed.
   Body Weight. People who weigh more are less affected by the  same  amount
of alcohol than people who weigh less.  Alcohol  is  water  soluble  heavier
people have more blood and water in their bodies,  so  the  same  amount  of
alcohol will be more diluted. Gender also affects the influence of  alcohol.
Women have a higher proportion of fat and a lower  proportion  of  water  in
their bodies than men; therefore, a woman will have a higher  blood  alcohol
content than a man who is of  the  same  weight  and  who  drinks  the  same
   Food. Alcohol "goes to the head" more slowly if one has just eaten or  if
one eats while drinking. Food slows down the passage  of  alcohol  from  the
stomach to the small intestine.
   Attitudes. What a person expects to happen after drinking has  a  lot  to
do with what does happen. A drinker who expects to get drunk is more  likely
to feel or act drunk.
    In one study, an experienced group of drinkers  was  given  a  glass  of
something non-alcoholic but was told  it  contained  alcohol.  Most  of  the
group still got drunk.
Immediate effects of alcohol.
   When consumed, alcohol goes right to the stomach and passes through to
the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. It takes
about 30 seconds for the first amounts of alcohol to reach the brain after
ingestion. Once there, alcohol acts primarily on nerve cells deep in the

   One drink for the average person (a 12-ounce beer, five ounces of wine,
or one and one-half ounces of 80-proof whiskey) will create a feeling of
relaxation. Two and a half drinks in an hour can affect the drinker's
judgement and lower inhibitions. Five drinks in two hours will raise the
blood alcohol content (BAC) to. 1 0, the point of legal intoxication in
most countries.

   After this amount of alcohol, the average drinker will experience
blurred vision, slurred speech, poor muscle coordination, and a lack of
rational judgement. Ten drinks will yield a BAC of 0.20. It will take 1 0
hours for the alcohol to be completely metabolised. After more than 12
drinks, the BAC will rise to 0.30 and the drinker will be in a stupor. A
BAC of O.40 to 0.50 will induce coma. A drinker in this condition may be
near death because he could vomit and choke while unconscious. Breathing is
likely to stop with a BAC of 0.60. The BAC can be measured by using a
breath, urine or blood test. This amount is measured as a percentage -- how
many parts of Alcohol to how many parts of blood.

   Eliminating alcohol from the body is a long process. About 90 percent
must be metabolised through the liver. The remaining 10 percent is
eliminated through the lungs and urine. It takes about one hour to
eliminate one-half ounce of alcohol.

   Heavy drinking in a short period of time will often cause a hangover the
next day. A hangover is a sign of alcohol poisoning; it is the body's
reaction to alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms of a hangover include nausea,
disorientation, headache, irritability and tremors.

The concept of alcohol dependence (alcoholism).
What is alcoholism?
   The conception of inveterate drunkenness  as  a  disease  appears  to  be
rooted in antiquity. The Roman philosopher Seneca classified it  as  a  form
of insanity. The term alcoholism, however, appears first  in  the  classical
essay "Alcoholismus Chronicus" (1849) by the Swedish physician Magnus  Huss.
The phrase  chronic  alcoholism  rapidly  became  a  medical  term  for  the
condition of habitual inebriety conceived as a disease; and  the  bearer  of
the  disease  was  called  an  alcoholic  or   alcoholist   (e.g.,   Italian
alcoolisto,  French  alcoolique,  German  Alkoholiker,  Spanish  alcohуlico,
Swedish alkoholist).

   Alcohol dependence,  or  alcoholism,  is  psychological  and/or  physical
reliance on alcohol. It is one of the most common medical illnesses seen  by
physicians. If you are dependent on alcohol, you feel or show a need for  it
when it is stopped. If you crave alcohol, or  feel  distressed  without  it,
you are said to be psychologically dependent. If  you  have  bodily  changes
when alcohol is stopped, such as hot and cold flashes  and/or  tremors,  you
are said to be physically dependent.

   Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic,  psychosocial  and
environmental factors influencing its development  and  manifestations.  The
disease is often progressive and fatal. It is  characterised  by  continuous
or periodic impaired control over  drinking,  preoccupation  with  the  drug
alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse  consequences,  and  distortions  in
thinking, most notably denial.

Currently there are three different theories to explain alcoholism:

* Genetic Theory defines alcoholism as the result of a predisposed  reaction
to alcohol due to chromosomes, genes or hormonal deficiencies.

* Psychological Theory defines alcoholism as  a  condition  that  exists  in
which people have a preset  disposition  or  personality  that  sets  off  a
reaction to alcohol.
* Sociological Theory defines alcoholism as a learned response and  believes
that addiction is a result of the influences of society.
   Whatever definition or theory is used, it is known that alcoholism  is  a
progressive illness that can be treated.  Each  alcoholic  has  a  different
drinking pattern, but the one thing all alcoholics  have  in  common  is  an
uncontrollable drinking habit.
What are the symptoms?
   Alcohol dependence takes many  forms,  including  intermittent  drinking,
continuous drinking, and binge drinking.  Many  alcoholics  become  able  to
drink ever larger quantities of alcohol before feeling or  appearing  drunk.
Alcohol users commonly medicate themselves with  alcohol,  using  it,  often
daily, to help them relax, as a confidence booster, or  in  order  to  avoid
withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioural symptoms of people who are dependent on alcohol may include:
Trying to hide evidence of drinking
Promising to give up drinking
Drinking stronger alcoholic beverages or starting to drink  earlier  in  the
Having long periods of intoxication
Drinking alone
Problems at work
Missing work
Blacking out
Loss of interest in food
Mood changes (anger, irritability, violent outbursts)
Personality changes (jealousy, paranoia)
Repeatedly driving under the influence
Injuring self or others while intoxicated
Carelessness about appearance
Slower  thought  processes,  lack  of  concentration,   confusion,   trouble
remembering things
Financial problems caused by drinking.
Physical symptoms may include:
Nausea or shaking in the morning
Poor eating habits
Abdominal pain
Chronic cramps or diarrhoea
Numbness or tingling sensations
Weakness in the legs and hands
Red eyes, face, and/or palms
Unsteady walking or falls
New and worsening medical problems.
Three distinct stages of alcoholism.
* Early Stage. A person in the early stage of alcoholism uses alcohol  as  a
coping device to relieve tension or  escape  from  problems.  The  alcoholic
must drink more and  more  to  achieve  the  same  effect  and  has  trouble
stopping after one drink. The alcoholic makes promises to quit drinking  but
never follows through.

* Middle Stage. An alcoholic in the middle stage of  alcoholism  cannot  get
through the day without alcohol and may need  a  drink  in  the  morning  to
overcome the "shakes." The middle-stage alcoholic will begin  to  manipulate
others, lie about drinking, and may drink in secret or hide alcohol.  It  is
harder and harder to get the same effects as tolerance increases.  Irregular
heart beat, hypertension, loss of appetite, irritability  and  insomnia  are
physical and psychological problems at  this  stage.  The  alcoholic  denies
that drinking is a problem.

* Late Stage. The alcoholic now lives to  drink  and  avoids  and  distrusts
others. All ambition is  lost  and  the  drinker  is  unable  to  cope  with
responsibility and is often absent from work.  A  late-stage  alcoholic  may
suffer from reverse tolerance: the brain and liver can no longer tolerate  a
high level of alcohol, so the drinker  becomes  impaired  after  even  small
amounts of alcohol. Malnutrition, nerve dysfunction, loss of memory,  mental
confusion, impaired vision, hypertension, heart  disease  and  cirrhosis  of
the liver can occur during this stage. If drinking stops, There  are  severe
withdrawal  reactions.  Late-stage  psychological  problems  include  shame,
guilt, severe  depression,  violent  behaviour,  low  self-esteem,  loss  of
control of emotions, loss of concentration and  learning  ability.  At  this
point, the alcoholic "hits bottom." The  alcoholic  may  continue  to  drink
despite  pain  or  disability.  The  only  viable  alternative  is  to  seek
Long- term effects of alcohol.

    Frequent and prolonged use of alcohol has many  detrimental  effects  on
the body. Heavy drinkers develop a tolerance for alcohol, which  means  that
larger amounts of alcohol are needed to get the desired  effect.  A  drinker
is physically dependent if withdrawal symptoms are experienced when  alcohol
use is discontinued abruptly. Symptoms vary  but  include  delirium  tremors
(the "DTs"), cramps, vomiting, elevated blood  pressure,  sweating,  dilated
pupils,  sleep  problems,  irritability  and  convulsions.  Most  of   these
symptoms will  subside  in  two  to  three  days,  though  irritability  and
insomnia may last two to three weeks. Psychological dependence  occurs  when
the drinker becomes so preoccupied with alcohol that it is difficult  to  do
without it. Short-term memory loss and  blackouts  are  common  among  heavy
drinkers. A blackout, which is an amnesia-like period  often  confused  with
passing out or  losing  consciousness,  results  when  the  drinker  appears
normal and may function normally; however, the person has no memory of  what
has taken place. Research  indicates  that  blackouts  are  associated  with
advanced stages of alcoholism,  and  there  is  a  correlation  between  the
extent and  duration  of  alcohol  consumption  during  any  given  drinking
episode and the occurrence of blackouts.
Treating alcoholism.

   The sooner alcoholism is detected, the better the  chances  of  recovery.
There are several effective  treatment  methods  for  alcoholism,  and  what
works for one person may not  work  for  another.  Many  options  should  be
explored when seeking help. Local  or  state  health  organisations  can  be
contacted to find out what treatment alternatives exist in each community.
Sociological research.
Reasons for choosing the questionnaire as  a  method  of  my  survey  and  a
sample design.

   I chose a questionnaire as  a  method  of  a  data  collection  primarily
because of  the  lack  of  ability  (mostly  time)  to  try  to  conduct  an
interview. Secondary, I consider the interview to be the inappropriate  type
of a survey in the case  of  such  a  delicate  problem  as  alcoholism.  An
interview, no matter formal or informal, might provide a large  bias  I  the
data, thus in the analysis, because  many  people  may  consider  it  to  be
undesirable for them to let others know the bare truth  about  their  lives.
Moreover, an interview can not be anonymous (at least the interviewer  would
be initiated in your problems). I also did not  manage  to  avoid  an  overt
participant observation…
   As this sociological research is  of  a  small  scale  (a  sample  of  36
persons) and was held among the students from one university (HSE),  it  did
not include such complicated (and unnecessary in this case) methods of  data
collection as a telephone survey or mail survey, the  refusals  problem  was
eliminated. Though, just because of the same circumstances, it  has  a  bias
of representing  only  the  smallest  part  of  the  Russian  youth:  Moscow
students and my research would be more descriptive than analysing.
   The multistage sample was  conducted  in  the  following  way:  4  out  5
specialities were observed (I did not have the access to jurisprudence)  and
the representatives were chosen by a random sampling  (using  the  table  of
random digits and student lists) according to  a  proportion  of  number  of
students on each speciality. Thus I  have  got  14  representatives  of  the
economic speciality, 10- of management, 8- of sociological  and  4-  of  the
   Considering the fact that I dealt with students,  I  was  not  afraid  of
personal questions. Students, as young and open  class  of  population,  are
far from being embarrassed when they are asked such.
The list of questions.
1. Your sex:
M___            F____
3. Your speciality?
A)    Economics   B)    Management   C)   Sociology   D)   ICEF
2. Your attitude to the alcohol ?
А)    Negative
B)    Simply do not like, when there is someone drunk beside me.
C)    Neutral
D)    Positive
3.    Do you drink alcohol?
А)    Yes             C)    Did not ever try.
B)    No
4. If not, why? ______________________________________________
5. If yes, in what age did you try it the first time (approximately)?
A) 5-10 years   D) 15-17 years
B) 10-13 years E) 17 and over
C) 13-15 years
6. How often do you drink alcohol?
А)    Almost every day   B)    Less than three times a week
C)    Less than two times a month
7. Do your parents drink (in general)?
А)     No                           C) Yes, only mother
B)    Yes, only father        D) Both
8. With whom do you usually drink (the most often case)?
А)   With friends from the university    B) With other friend/buddies
C)   With parents
9.  Can you drink alone?
А)    Yes, happened to be       B) No
10.  Do you drink to overcome a hangover?
А)    Yes                  B) Yes, but not in the morning
C)    Never
11.  Do you need some reason for drinking alcohol like Birthday  or  another
А)    Yes, always       B)    Not necessarily.
12.   How can you classify your alcoholic consumption?
А)    I have no dependency
B)    I have some warnings about my dependency
C)    Only psychological dependency
D)    Physical dependency.
13. Do you care about the amount of alcohol you drink per day?      (Several
answers are possible)
А)    Yes
B)    No
C)    No, if there is no my girlfriend/boyfriend beside me.
D)    No, if my parents wouldn’t see/know.
E)    No, if it is a big holiday (I can allow myself)
14.  What alcohol beverage do you drink in the most often case?
А)    Beer
B)    Cocktails (Gin-Tonic , etc.)
C)    Wine, Aperitifs  (Martini, Karelia ,etc.) or champaign
D)    Strong alcoholic drinks (Vodka, Cognac, Scotch and etc.)
15.  Have you ever tried to give up drinking?
А)    Yes             B)    No
16. Have you ever tried to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed?
А)    Yes, it worked           B) Yes, it did not work
C)    No
17. Would you drink less, if parents set  up  more  strict  requirements  to
your behaviour?
А)    Yes      B)    No
18. Would you drink less, if they ceased to give you pocket money?
А)    Yes
B)   No, I would take a loan, but will drink/somebody would treat.        C)
   No, I earn money myself.
19. Comparing with the previous year, do you drink:
А)    Less/less frequent     C) As much/with the same frequency
B)    More/more often
20. Did alcohol affect your study results, from your point of view?
А)    No     B)    Yes, they become better   C)    Yes, they become worse.
21. How did you pass the previous exams/entry exams?
A)    Excellent       B)     Well
C)    Satisfactory   D)     Failed
22.  Why do you drink alcohol? (Several answers are possible)
А)    To remove stress
B)    To raise the mood
C)    To support to company
D)    To celebrate some holiday
E)     Your variant of answer_________________________________
23.  Do you care, what others think, when they see  you  drunken?    (Except
people, who know you)
А)    No, if they are not policemen     B)    Yes
24.   Have   you   ever    had    extrinsic    behavioural    manifestations
(aggressiveness/depression) connected with the consumption of alcohol?
А)    Yes        B)    No
25. Did you have blackouts (of a non- traumatic nature)?
А)    Yes, once/sometimes    B)    No
26.  Do you smoke?
А)    Yes

B)    No

27.  Do you take drugs, even the weakest ones?
А)   Yes, have tried once            C)    Yes
B)   Yes, but very- very rarely    D)    No

The analysis of a data received.
   I have got 21 male and 15 female respondents. Among  these  people  there
are only 1 men and 1 women who do not drink alcohol at all.
The attitude  towards  the  alcohol  is  distributed  as  following:  39%  -
positive (among them: 13- men and only 1 woman); 39%- neutral  (among  them:
6 men and 8 women); 22%- simply do not like, when  there  is  someone  drunk
beside them (among them: 2 men and 6 women)  and  none  of  the  respondents
said that their attitude is negative.

   29% of male and 27% of female respondents have parents who do  not  drink
at all. 4% of male and 13% of female students have only  father  who  drinks
(in general) and 4% and 6% respectively-  only  mother.  The  percentage  of
both parents drinking (in general) is 62 for men and 53 for women. This  way
the difference between the current and the next generation (the  youth)  can
be shown. As we see from this data, the percentage of  non-drinking  parents
is far from 1/21 and 1/15 (5% and 7%) of their offsprings. Most of  the  men
drink with their friends from the university (55%) and the largest  part  of
female  responses  to  this  question  fall  on  the  answer  B)-with  other
friends/buddies (50%).
   The next few questions I consider to be rather interesting, because  they
primarily deal with the alcoholic dependency and its  stages.  The  question
about drinking alone as one of  a  symptom  of  alcoholism  brought  up  the
results of 50% of male students who could do this, and only  29%  of  female
who have also chosen this answer. Drinking to overcome a hangover is  normal
for 55% of men and 14% of women. Doing the same thing  at  any  time  except
mornings is suitable for 15% and 7% of students respectively. And  only  30%
of  men  and  79%  of  women  consider  this  to  be  “not   their   style”.
Unfortunately, as much as 85% of men and 64% of women do not need  a  normal
reason for drinking like celebrating some party, etc. Two  out  of  20  male
respondents and two out of 14 female have doubts about their dependency  and
2 men consider themselves to be psychologically dependent already.

   From the graph above we can see the following interesting fact:  none  of
the women do not care about the presence of the their boyfriends while  they
are  drinking  and  male  respondents  do  not  take  their   parents   into
consideration deciding haw many drinks to have.
   Here we can see the tendency of male students usually  drinking  beer  or
strong  alcoholic  drinks,  and  females  usually  drinking   cocktails   of
   The question  concerned  ever  trying  to  give  up  drinking  and  never
following though was aimed to reveal one of the symptoms of the first  stage
of alcohol dependency. The results were: 30% of men and 14 % of women  tried
to do so. 25% of men and no females tried to reduce the  amount  of  alcohol
consumed and succeeded and 5% and 7% respectively tried but did not  succeed
in reducing it.
   Only 30% of males and 7% of the females would reduce the amount  consumed
if their parents were stricter about their behaviour. But if they  cease  to
give  them  pocket  money  40%  of  male  respondents  and  43%  of   female
respondents would do  it.
   Only 20% of men and 14% of women  consider  their  study  success  to  be
dependent from the results shown on the graph above.
   50% of males and 36% of females wrote, that they  drink  to  raise  their
mood; 20% and 10%- to support the  company;  15%  and  20%-  to  remove  the
stress; 15% and 34%- to celebrate some holiday respectively.
   Almost 80% of males and 21% of females said that there  don’t  care  what
others (not those, whom they are  aquatinted  with  and  if  they  were  nit
policemen) would think  if  they  saw  them  drunken.  The  answers  to  the
question  “Have  you   ever   had   extrinsic   behavioural   manifestations
(aggressiveness/depression) connected with the consumption of alcohol?”  are
35% of male respondents and 14% of female said “yes” and 65% and 86%-  “no”.
40% of males and 14% of females have already got aquatinted with blackouts.

   From my point of view, these results are much like the real  ones,  as  I
am also a student and I am doing the overt observation  of  all  this  every
day. The situation seems to be catastrophic, and something  should  be  done
about it.
Literature used.

1. Britannica encyclopaedia ’99.
2. Socis magazine  № 5,3,8 1997 ;№ 10 1998
3. http://search1.healthgate.com/hid/alcoholism/









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