Drinking Regulations And Health Problems Argumentative Essays Example
Drinking alcohol is a worldwide phenomenon, one that has been practiced socially for hundreds of years in many different cultures across the world. While there have been attempts to either regulate or prohibit alcohol consumption, most have simply not worked and drinking remains a very popular and often detrimental activity across most cultures. This paper will prove that curbing alcohol consumption can help reduce numerous health problems caused by excessive drinking. By exploring the different drinking cultures of South Korea and the US, it will propose that drinking in these countries can be reduced through official regulations limiting alcohol sales as well as through public education programs.
Alcohol is consumed in the USA at both official and non-official functions. It also remains the beverage of choice at most celebrations. Champagne, in particular, fulfills this purpose. Although the official drinking age in the USA is 21 years, many young people start drinking as early as age 15. Excessive drinking by under-age youngsters is very common, particularly on American college campuses. Research shows that more than half of all heavy drinking sessions in the USA result in total intoxication. However, the drinking culture of South Korea stands out as extraordinary as recent research indicates that alcohol consumption in the country is far greater than that of the USA, Russia or Britain. In fact, South Koreans drink twice as much as Russians and more than five times as much as Britons (Blake, 2014).
It is believed that effective government regulations can control and reduce consumption in such intensive drinking cultures. One way this can be achieved is to restrict the total number of hours per day in which alcohol can be sold (Cassewell & Thamarangsi, 2009). The government can also restrict alcohol sales to specific hours. For example, bars and pubs could be restricted from selling alcohol on weekdays until after 4 pm, when people usually get off from work. Sales could then be allowed until 12 or 1 am, after which these establishments would close. In fact, this strategy proved effective in certain countries like Kenya, where authorities officially banned the sale of alcohol during weekdays before 5 pm and after 11 pm. During weekends, the legal opening time for bars was pushed forward to 2 pm. It was discovered that reducing the hours where alcohol could be sold prompted those people who only think about drinking to engage in other, more constructive activities during those hours (Cassewell & Thamarangsi, 2009).
Another strategy might include having governments introduce random alcohol Breathalyzer tests for drivers. A huge number of drinkers in South Korea also own cars and on many occasions, many of them have been known to drive to their favorite bar, drink themselves into a stupor and then drive themselves home, making them an immense danger to themselves and to others. Setting up traffic stops along major roads where drivers would be required to go through breathalyzer tests would encourage people to either cut their drinking short or plan different driving arrangements altogether - especially since those found to have exceeded the permitted alcohol levels would be inevitably subjected to legal punishment, including imprisonment.
However, there are other ways to curb the dangerous drinking culture in South Korea beyond enacting official regulations. Educating the public is another key strategy. Some believe the government should collaborate with educational campaigners to both educate the public about the dangers of high alcohol consumption and promote responsible drinking (Anderson, Chisholm & Fuhr, 2009). Given that such a huge portion of South Korean drinkers are students and young people, these campaigns should be taken to schools and colleges, where their impact would be felt most (Anderson, Chisholm & Fuhr, 2009).
The government should also be at the forefront of supporting those who admit to suffering from alcohol addiction. This may include setting up rehab and support centers for alcohol addicts, where experts can help guide them to ultimately overcome their problems. Backed by government funding, these centers should also take a proactive approach by trying to educate the public about the dangers of drinking (Anderson, Chisholm & Fuhr, 2009). Such efforts, combined with government regulation, could help alleviate many potential health problems caused from excessive alcohol consumption.
Research suggests that excessive drinking is the cause of many diseases. Studies have found that once alcohol is consumed, between 20 to 30% is absorbed into the stomach and the rest into the small and large intestines (Callaghan, 2013). Most Koreans have helicobacter bacteria present in their intestine. People carrying this particular bacteria and who then drink heavily and frequently run the risk of developing stomach ulcers. In fact, about 70% of heavy drinkers in Korea suffer from stomach ulcers (Jung, 2014). Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked to diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis, cardiovascular disorders, alcoholism and Alzheimers (Callaghan, 2013). Alcoholic hepatitis, a condition caused by heavy drinking, can lead to necrosis of liver cells and liver infections. Continued damage can even lead to liver cancer (Park, 2014). Alcohol can also cause several cardiovascular disorders, including heart shrinkage and heart attacks (Lawlor, 2013).
People usually claim they drink alcohol to relax, feel happy and to feel free from their routine everyday activities. Research also suggests that drinking a “little amount of alcohol can improve cardio-vascular health and it lowers risk of osteoporosis in women” (Lawlor, 2013). Excessive drinking is not so beneficial. Often, victims of alcoholism cannot stop drinking and this can generate very serious side effects, such as reduced weight, hand tremors, schizophrenia, and suicidal impulses. From 2010 to 2012, Korea ranked in the top three countries in the world when it came to suicidal impulse rates. Other studies have found that people who drink too much, too fast may experience more and more blackouts, which could lead to both acute and long-term memory loss (Toda, 2013). Unlike drinking in moderation, heavy drinking can cause injuries, immunodeficiency and neurological damage.
While the overall drinking culture in South Korea is perhaps more destructive than it is in the USA, the strategies used to curb drinking there can also be applied here. Despite the official drinking age, research has proven that many young Americans still drink heavily after obtaining alcohol illegally. Therefore, adjusting the legal drinking age might not help much. However, the strategies explored and suggested in this paper - such as restricting alcohol sales hours, introducing random breathalyzer tests and public education – have been proven effective in curbing excessive drinking and reducing related diseases.
Anderson, P., Chisholm, D., & Fuhr, D. C. (2009). Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies and programmes to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. The Lancet, 373(9682), 2234-2246.
Blake, M. (Ed.). (2014, February 3). Retrieved February 3, 2014, from Daily Mail website: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2551059/ South-Koreans-drink-TWICE-Russians-five-times-Brits.html
Callaghan, R. C., Sanches, M., Gatley, J. M., & Cunningham, J. K. (2013). Effects of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age on Alcohol-Related Health Service Use in Hospital Settings in Ontario: A Regression--Discontinuity Approach. American Journal of Public Health, 103(12), 2284-2291. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301320
Casswell, S., & Thamarangsi, T. (2009). Reducing harm from alcohol: call to action. The Lancet, 373(9682), 2247-2257.
Jung, Y. S., Lee, S. H., Park, C. S., Oh, M. J., Kim, K. O., Jang, B. I., & Yang, C. H. (2014). [Trends in the eradication rates of Helicobacter pylori infection in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea: multicenter study over 13 years]. The Korean Journal Of Gastroenterology = Taehan Sohwagi Hakhoe Chi, 63(2), 82-89.
Lawlor, D. A., Nordestgaard, B. G., Benn, M., Zuccolo, L., Tybjaerg-Hansen, A., & Davey Smith, G. (2013). Exploring causal associations between alcohol and coronary heart disease risk factors: findings from a Mendelian randomization study in the Copenhagen General Population Study.European Heart Journal, 34(32), 2519-2528. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/eht081
Park, B., Jung, K., Oh, C., Choi, K. S., Suh, M., & Jun, J. K. (2014). Factors Associated with Alcohol Consumption in Hepatitis B Carriers: A Nationwide Study in the Republic of Korea. Plos ONE, 9(11), 1-9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110144
Toda, A., Tagata, Y., Nakada, T., Komatsu, M., Shibata, N., & Arai, H. (2013). Changes in Mini-Mental State Examination score in Alzheimer's disease patients after stopping habitual drinking.Psychogeriatrics: The Official Journal Of The Japanese Psychogeriatric Society, 13(2), 94-98. doi:10.1111/psyg.12008
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