The sociocultural aspect of understanding abuse is that social norms directly affect substance use or abuse. This model was mainly used in efforts to prevent the use of alcohol. In this case, the model consists of three main components:
– underlining cultural standards
– the need to include the adoption of alcohol in socially significant activities
– focus on developing a culture of drinking alcohol
The main efforts of this model are aimed at changing attitudes towards taking alcohol within a culture.
One of the most significant defenders of the sociocultural approach. Rupert Wilkinson believes that drinking alcohol can be influenced by well-planned policies. Wilkinson notes that there are examples of alcohol use that are not associated with any problems, and that these examples can be used as guidelines for rooting a similar drinking culture.
During his fruitful work in 1970, Wilkinson identified five proposals for changing the culture of drinking alcohol. The first involves creating a low level of emotionality associated with alcoholic beverages in society, while at the same time bringing clarity to conflicting ideas about alcohol consumption. Emotionality surrounding alcohol, according to Wilkinson, creates pressure on a person, as well as an environment in which discussion and changing the culture of drinking alcohol are simply impossible. A more thoughtful and well-coordinated approach will increase the benefit by clarifying inconsistencies and provide greater clarity about drinking norms.
The second basis of the Wilkinson sociocultural model is that a clear line should be drawn between the normal use of alcoholic beverages and drunkenness. The challenge is to clearly define what is acceptable drinking and what is drinking. Unfortunately, to come to such clarity is far from easy.
Wilkinson’s third principle: after certainty has been reached about where the drunkenness begins, a strict ban must be imposed on it. The fourth, central principle is that alcohol should be integrated into the social context in the broad sense of the word. In other words, the use of alcohol should not be the meaning of life or a single party, but instead should simply be an addition to other activities.
In conclusion, Wilkinson concludes that society can afford to drink alcohol only when it is accompanied by eating food. He believes that when there is a snack, alcohol consumption ceases to be the only meaning of activity. Moreover, food slows down the absorption of alcohol and potentially helps reduce intoxication.
Together, these principles create an idea of acceptable and unacceptable use of alcohol and, thus, form the desired pattern of responsible behavior. Such a pattern must then be rooted in ordinary family life and other social activities. It is noteworthy that the aim of the sociocultural approach is not to stop the use of alcohol in general, but to change the social norms relating to this use. Thus, his strategy is not focused on the prohibition, and many believe that the main mistake of this approach is that it supports the use of alcohol.
The main criticism of this approach is that it cannot be widely applied. In many countries, such as the United States and Canada, there are simultaneously different types of cultures and subcultures, so the customs and values adopted in one of them may not be suitable or rejected by the other. The second direction of criticism is that the sociocultural approach, with an emphasis on moderate consumption, does not take into account how much pleasure is given to excessive drinking. The third doubt is that a change in attitude will lead to the desired change in behavior. In conclusion, they draw attention to the fact that the sociocultural approach does not take into account the physiological problems associated with the use of alcohol (cancer, diseases of the liver and stomach). Therefore, many believe that the introduction of a sociocultural model will cause the predominance of physiological problems, even if social problems are resolved simply due to the widespread use of alcohol.
Contrary to these doubts, the sociocultural model does not lose its influence in the United States.Currently, this is perhaps the most dominant strategy. It applies and has a large scope of activities. Examples of this are advertising and educational approaches to the problem of drunk driving.
The socio-cultural model is mainly used to solve problems related to alcohol abuse, but it is also a cornerstone in preventing many problems associated with the use of other drugs. As noted above, an example of the latter is the campaign “Just Say No”, which calls on everyone, but especially the young, to refuse the offer to try drugs. Another example of this type of advertising campaign is the Drug America Rescue Partnership. This campaign, focused on marijuana, cocaine and crack, is trying to reduce the social acceptability of drug use among young people and warns those who are already using them or are only going to try, about the dangers of using. Mainly this campaign is carried out on television. However, to date, their effectiveness has not been documented. In addition, the effectiveness of this campaign can be reduced due to the fact that it is aimed at young people of middle and upper social classes who are less exposed to this danger. The only main difference in the application of the sociocultural model to drug abuse, as compared to alcohol abuse, is that in the first case an attempt is made to make abuse a norm, and in the second to form reasonable norms of use.