Since alcohol significantly influences people’s lives on a personal, family, and community level, I have decided to discuss it. Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. Therefore, alcohol misuse may have various harmful effects, such as addiction, mental health problems, domestic violence, and car accidents. Additionally, there are significant social and financial consequences related to alcohol consumption. For instance, alcohol-related damage costs the US economy billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, law enforcement expenditures, and healthcare costs (Wintemute, 2018). Additionally, alcoholism has been linked to several socioeconomic issues, such as crime, poverty, and broken families. Additionally, the topic is of interest since alcohol misuse also connects to psychology, sociology, and public health, among other fields of study. One may have a more precise grasp of the intricate relationships among individual behavior, societal norms, and environmental variables that lead to drug misuse by examining alcohol abuse.
When it comes to the formation of public policy on alcohol misuse, the opinion of the general public is an essential component. When there is a general sense that alcohol abuse is a severe problem, officials may be more inclined to implement steps to address the issue. For instance, in 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States discovered that approximately 14 million adult Americans were struggling with some alcohol use problem (Abuse, 2020). The high incidence rate of alcohol addiction has resulted in the establishment of laws that include higher taxes on alcoholic beverages, limits placed on the sale of alcoholic beverages, and alcohol education programs in educational institutions.
The state of the economy is another factor that may influence how public policy is formulated regarding alcohol misuse. When the economy is in a slump, officials may be more prone to the idea of raising taxes on alcoholic beverages as a means of boosting income. For instance, to make up for lost income during the COVID-19 epidemic, several states in the United States doubled the taxes placed on alcoholic beverages (Barbosa et al., 2021). Nevertheless, rising taxes may also have unforeseen effects, such as encouraging individuals to consume alcohol of inferior quality and at a lower price or creating financial hardship for small enterprises. Furthermore, the results of scientific investigation have the potential to impact public policy on alcohol misuse. For instance, studies have indicated that drinking alcohol when a woman is pregnant may lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). As a direct consequence of this, several nations have enacted laws and regulations to prohibit the use of alcohol during pregnancy and to provide assistance to people and families afflicted with FASD.
The public policy developed in response to alcohol misuse may also be influenced by interest organizations. The alcohol business may, for instance, lobby against initiatives such as higher taxes or limits on the sale of alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, advocacy organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) may lobby for harsher punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol and more financing for alcohol education and prevention initiatives. Additionally, the public policy on alcohol misuse is equally susceptible to political ideology influence. For instance, politicians who lean toward conservatism are more likely to support policies emphasizing personal accountability and individual choice. In contrast, politicians who lean toward liberalism are more likely to support policies emphasizing social justice and public health (Wintemute, 2018). These ideological differences have the potential to have an effect on the kinds of policies that are enacted as well as the degree of support that they get.
Unexpected Outcomes Or Unintended Consequences
The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) in the United States is an example of a public policy connected to alcohol misuse that might have unexpected results or unforeseen repercussions. The Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) regulation was implemented in the US in the 1980s to lower the number of young people’s fatal accidents and alcohol-related incidents (Roodbeen et al., 2021). The MLDA has had unforeseen repercussions, despite evidence showing that it has been beneficial in lowering alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.
The shift of alcohol use from public to private spaces has been one of the MLDA policy’s unforeseen outcomes. The MLDA has pushed young people to drink in private places, such as residences or fraternity houses, by making it unlawful to buy and consume alcohol in public locations. Young people are now more prone to indulge in excessive drinking and consume more alcohol in private settings without the supervision of responsible adults, which has made the atmosphere more unsafe. The MLDA regulation also had the unintended effect of normalizing underage drinking in American society. Young people are given the impression by the MLDA policy that it is only allowed to use alcohol after a particular age. However, a lot of young individuals still decide to drink before the legal drinking age. Young people have not been discouraged from drinking by the MLDA policy; on the contrary, it has popularized underage drinking as a rebellious and trendy activity.
Additionally, the MLDA policy has negatively affected how young people and law enforcement interact. The strategy has often resulted in the prosecution of minors who use alcohol before the legal drinking age. This may have a long-lasting effect on young people’s lives since they can find it challenging to get a job or enroll in school due to having a criminal record. Moreover, the MLDA policy has fostered an alcoholic culture at American universities and colleges. Since it is not permitted for anybody under the age of 21 to drink, college years have come to be associated with binge drinking and partying (Roodbeen et al., 2021). Numerous unfavorable effects, including an increase in sexual assault incidences, accidents, and hospitalizations for alcohol poisoning, have been brought on by this culture.
Conclusively, many elements influence alcohol misuse policy, including public opinion, economic situations, scientific results, interest groups, and political ideology. Policy changes to decrease alcohol use may have unforeseen benefits or drawbacks. So that they can create policies that are efficient, fair, and long-lasting, policymakers need to think about how such policies can affect different groups of people and get feedback from those people.
Abuse, S. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Barbosa, C., Cowell, A. J., & Dowd, W. N. (2021). Alcohol consumption in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 15(4), 341.
Wintemute, G. J. (2015). Alcohol misuse, firearm violence perpetration, and public policy in the United States. Preventive medicine, 79, 15-21.
Roodbeen, R. T., Dijkstra, R. I., Schelleman-Offermans, K., Friele, R., & van de Mheen, D. (2021). Examining the intended and unintended impacts of raising a minimum legal drinking age on primary and secondary societal harm and violence from a contextual policy perspective: a scoping review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1999.