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Addiction and Culture Sample Paper 2020

Addiction and Culture

The worldview is shaped by a system of behavioral and belief patterns. These patterns affect members of a society; thus act as a guiding tool for their behavior, grammar, action and cognitive map. There are several types of addictions ranging from alcohol, tobacco, opiods, cocaine, cannabis, and hallucinogens among others. Culturally, various groups have abused drugs throughout generations eventually establishing various codes on how alcohol and drugs should be approached.

For as far as 4000 BC, people have been fermenting different plants and fruits for alcoholic beverages. Ancient Middle-East in countries currently known as Iraq and Iran produced the first beer and wine for consumption. In ancient Sumerian clay tablets, recipes were written which contained the use of wine basically as a medication solvent. Similarly, marijuana has a long history of usage over the years. However, it was initially used as herbal medication, but not as a means to get high. In 500 BC, marijuana cultivation began in central Asia before the plant was introduced to Africa, later Europe and finally making its way to America (Rubin, 1975). Furthermore, other societies used hemp fiber to make garments, sails, paper, and rope with its seeds used as food. Research showed that previous cannabis plantations contained low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for the mind-alerting effect though gradually the societies did cultivation and grafting to produce plants with higher levels of THC (Rubin, 1975).

Behaviors towards substance abuse and addiction can be swiftly shaped by socio-cultural believes. These forces can easily make a person be vulnerable to addiction, especially those from vulnerable groups. Native Americans have alcoholic problems primarily due to their marginalized status as citizens of the United States (A. Tom, Kaushik & Galen Morgan, 2017). A continued high addiction rate would be expected for persons from this ethnic group whose ancestral land was invaded and stolen by their conquerors. These experiences gravely altered the stability of the community and its members. Similar experiences were witnessed by persons of African and Afro-Caribbean background.

It is difficult for people to appreciate how historical events shape the views of people today. How cultural believes and traditions are taught from one generation to the next determines how best people will get to understand and appreciate where they are from. Families which have experienced oppression tend to have a feeling of hopelessness, fear, distrust, loss, and despair. In the event of parents who directly experience this level of oppression, they pass the knowledge to their children whom pass it on to the next generation. In many angles, oppression is not viewed as an addiction though to the ones who experienced it, the aftermath becomes worse bringing a feeling of despair. Members of the society will grow-up knowing the world is unsafe and seek to find solace in different addictions which end up being passes across generations. Furthermore, in-depth knowledge of the human temperaments helps shed more light on how to deal with the individual (Suzanne Tenor et al., 2008). It is easier dealing with a sanguine as they will be slightly receptive to correction than to correct a melancholic as that will make the individual fall into depression once they are told of their downfalls.

Assessment of an individual’s background is necessary when trying to establish means of dealing with their addictions more so substance abuse. The DSM-IV publication proved a crucial turning point for applying cultural psychiatry principles. This is because an outline for cultural formulation was provided. These included; a glossary of culture- bond syndromes, a discussion of cultural variations in currently recognized DSM disorders (A. Tom, Kaushik & Galen Morgan, 2017). Furthermore, an outline of relevant cases culturally which are based on five distinct areas are provided. These are cultural explanation of the illness, cultural identity, levels of functioning and cultural factors which relate to the psychosocial environment, cultural elements of relationships between the clinician and the individual and finally the overall cultural assessment of diagnosis and care (A. Tom, Kaushik & Galen Morgan, 2017).

How deeply rooted an individual is to their culture is an important element in trying to establish how best to handle the person. To others, not being able to communicate well using mother tongue makes them feel alienated. Seeking help from traditional healers becomes an option which may end up being addictive as a person feels inadequate without the guidance of these healers. For some children, alienation in form of being sent to boarding school happens as a form of punishment. This helped to weaken the cultures especially for Native American communities. Eventually, it led to many social problems which still exist due to the rapid growth of a cultureless society. It is believed that a person’s personality and behavior are dependent on a person’s security and survival motives, as well as mature and immature attitudes (Suzanne Tenor et al., 2008). Therefore, how an individual is raised will play a major role in the type of traits developed as well as the kind of addictions.

In conclusion, there are multidimensional problems within communities which lead to various addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse. Treatment should be encouraged for all who fall victim with the help of members of the community. New hope can be found through community healing as individuals look forward to a better future amending all broken bridges. All tribal members should be involved in the healing process with the families, religious leaders, traditional healers, and local health care providers being in the forefront. An understanding of all cultural forces helps shed light on people’s addictions. This is because some people are reluctant to change once influenced by their traditions. Moreover, these forces can be termed as helpful or unhelpful depending on how they are put to use. There are three fundamental socio-cultural forces which are essential in determining an individual’s addiction and how to handle them. These are; family ties, social support, and culture. Since individuals can do so little to directly change how these forces influence them, their awareness and knowledge of how they operate can help strengthen their recovery process.



Rubin, V. (1975). Cannabis and culture. The Hague: Mouton.

Tom, H., Kaushik, M., & Galen Morgan, C. (2017). Retrieved 23 March 2018, from

Suzanne Tenor, A., Michael J., B., Vannessa, B., Kathy L., C., Steven H., D., & Joseph, G. et al. (2008). The Addiction Professional: Manual for Counselor Competency (2nd ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: Breining Institute.