There is little doubt that the use of drugs and alcohol continues unabated in Britain. It is also safe to say that we are no closer to solving the issue of substance abuse than we were 20 years ago. For every individual that successfully completes a rehab programme, there is another waiting to take his or her place. The question is why? Perhaps the answer lies in learning a bit more about the pub and drug cultures.
When we talk about the pub and drug cultures, we are referring to what the Oxford dictionaries explain as ‘the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society’. For example, a group of young people who regularly get together for the purposes of using cannabis demonstrate certain attitudes and behaviours whenever they gather. This would be their culture.
It could be that the culture surrounding alcohol and drug use is such that it only encourages further antisocial behaviour. Let us look at both a little more closely.
The Pub Culture
The word ‘pub’ is a shortened version of the old term ‘public house’. A public house, in days gone by, was a local gathering spot where people would get together for a meal and a drink or two. Back in the day, alcohol was consumed in place of water because water was simply unsafe to drink. So one might head down to the public house for a pint of beer and dinner.
The modern pub is similar in the sense that it serves alcoholic drinks and light meals. But as addiction expert Elizabeth Hartney writes at About Health, the business of the modern pub is undergirded by the regular guests who spend their time sitting at the bar every single day. These regulars know one another by name; many consider themselves part of a close-knit group of friends.
The sense of belonging may be one of the parts of the pub culture that encourages these individuals to return day after day. As such, it may also be a factor in leading them down the road to alcoholism. The pub becomes a place of refuge and comfort from the troubles of the world, surrounded by good friends who are all dealing with the same pressures. When that happens, the pub also becomes a self-perpetuating prison maintained by alcohol guards.
The Drug Culture
The drug culture is very similar to its pub counterpart with one exception: users do not congregate at legal social establishments in their local neighbourhoods. Instead, they gather in their own homes, in alleyways, at public parks or wherever they can take drugs without being discovered. However, the culture itself is still the same.
It has already been established that drug users do not wake up one day and suddenly decide they want to embark on a career of addiction. Addiction is a gradual process that overwhelms the user slowly. Yet all addicts have one thing in common: their addiction started with a single use. Oftentimes that first use involved a recreational drug such as cannabis.
Just as with the regulars at the pub, drug users who routinely gather to get high are establishing those same relational bonds that provide a sense of belonging and comfort. Before long, what starts out as recreational drug use can quickly become addiction.
It seems plausible that the pub and drug cultures that now exist within mainstream society are perpetuating the problem of substance abuse. Here at Addiction Helper, we suggest it is time to start taking a serious look at changing the culture rather than just trying to treat the results of it.
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