The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, Septermber 18, 2010.
Conference - First drink - then. . .?
From: Stanton Peele
Sent: Sep 18, 2010 5:21 AM
Subject: Re: Conference - First drink - then. . .?
Early drinking implicates fundamental issues of epidemiology, policy, and cultural visions of alcohol. Although the public health model has in the past differentiated itself from the medical, disease model, they are joined in the endeavor of discouraging - outlawing - exposing children to alcohol. They do so with the supposed support of medical and epidemiological research (the Grant and Dawson study you reference is the key epidemiological example).
This is true despite a co-occurring literature (see Warner & White below) that considers home drinking to be the best model of socializing a ubiquitous, but at the same time potentially dangerous, activity. Franca's research comparing Italian and Finnish socialization of drinking is a now radical-seeming demonstration of something that everyone knows, or used to know: Nordic nations teach people to drink in dangerous ways that contrast with Southern initiation to drinking.
Maria's brilliant analysis of Southern (Portugese) drinking and attitudes towards alcohol, as opposed to American, describes a war of world views - like others the United States is immersed in. The U.S. - more than even other English-speaking temperance nations - views early and regular drinking as a precursor - as defining - alcoholism. Emma Fossey describes how fundamental the process of socialization of visions of alcohol is, and with what consequences. American youth see Mediterranean drinking AS alcoholism - even while half of American 21-year-olds binge drink.
Seen in this light, the WHO Europe effort to stamp out parents giving children alcohol - which is mirrored elsewhere (see the Australian guidelines) - is an effort to extirpate a cultural and familial process in the guise of public health. It is presented like international campaigns to encourage breast feeding etc. - as an unquestionable public health good. Increasingly, individuals in the United States and elsewhere and cultures (like Portugal) with a different vision are portrayed as sickeningly benighted - with the public health imprimatur.
When movements like this are in motion, despite their labeling as scientific endeavors, little effort is made to evaluate their basis and their impact. To some extent, this would be impossible - when home education into alcohol is eliminated, the consequences will be observable, but there will be no way back. We will have simply emerged into a different world. Whether this world is healthier will be beyond assessment - beyond human comprehension. We will simply have this worldwide attitude towards alcohol - of which KBS will be a primary author.