The Sociological Role of Alcohol Abuse in German Society

Term Paper, 2011

15 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Alcohol abuse in German society

3. Alcohol abuse at the macro level

4. Prevalence of alcohol abuse in different groups of people

5. Influence of social factors on alcohol abuse

6. Sociological role theory in the context of alcohol abuse

7. The sociological theory of organization and alcohol abuse

8. Conclusion


1. Introduction

In this day and age, addictions are becoming more and more important for society. There are more and more patients and thus also a constantly growing need of companies to deal with this topic.

There are many different types of addiction, including not only dependence on substances, but also on gambling, communication and much more.1

In this work, the topic of alcohol abuse is to be described in more detail and explained in more detail using the case study of the personnel management of a university hospital.

For this purpose, alcohol abuse in Germany is generally explained at the beginning. In the further course of the work, findings from sociological theory are applied to alcohol abuse.

2. Alcohol abuse in German society

Alcohol is the most widespread drug of everyday life in Germany2, in this country alone, about 73,000 deaths per year can be attributed to alcohol consumption, 9.5 million people in Germany drink alcohol in such quantities that there is a potential health hazard and 1.3 million people are alcohol-dependent.3

Although the consumption of pure alcohol per capita and year has declined slightly in Germany in recent years, one should not be blinded by these figures, as they do not yet make a statement about the problematic consumption of some population groups.4

In order to be able to make statements about the quality of consumption, the consumer behavior of individual individuals is determined on the basis of surveys. In general, it can be stated here that most alcohol consumption takes place at a harmless level of consumption. In the regions of the dangerous level of consumption, there are generally more men than women in percentage terms. Regardless of gender, the age peak is in the age group of 45 – 54 years.5 However, the development of alcohol consumption among adolescents in Germany is also worrying, as there is a continuous increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages by both boys and girls6, which in the future allows to expect a further exacerbation of the problem of alcoholism.7 For example, around half of all young people aged 16 to 19 consume alcohol at risky alcohol at least once a month, which is a very worrying development. Meaningful prevention campaigns, such as the PKV's "Kenn Dein Limit" campaign, which are specifically intended to appeal to the group of young people, have so far often come to nothing, possibly because unrepresentative groups of young people are to be addressed.

A central problem of alcohol abuse is certainly the social acceptance of this drug and the often creeping process of incipient addiction. Thus, alcohol is an indispensable part of family celebrations and other festivities, even a larger amount of alcohol is tolerated here and is also accepted in large parts of the population.8 Furthermore, increasing alcohol consumption is also a phenomenon of our society today, since alcohol can only be produced and consumed in large quantities if enough food is available, i.e. if daily needs are covered.9 In today's abundance and meritocracy, one could therefore diagnose a multiplier effect for addictions in general, because on the one hand there is the pressure of the constantly increasing expectations of the individual and on the other hand the individual, who tries to meet this social pressure and to escape through mind-expanding substances.

With regard to a connection between alcoholism and social class or occupation, it should be noted that the data on German studies is still relatively thin. Nevertheless, it can be stated that the members of the lower social classes have the highest proportion of alcoholics. In terms of health professions, the English-speaking countries are a lot ahead of us in their studies. For example, a lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse of 2.5% is assumed by doctors.10

All in all, it can be stated that alcoholism is the most widespread form of addiction in German society. More alcohol is consumed by men than by women and the peak consumption is in both sexes in the middle age groups. Even if consumption is declining overall, it can be assumed on the basis of the data that the alcohol problem will also shift to the younger generations. With regard to health professions and alcoholism, there are so far few studies available in the German-speaking countries.

3. Alcohol abuse at the macro level

The macro level describes society as a whole, in which the focus is not on the individual, but on the coexistence of several individuals as well as the rules, norms and values that determine our social life.

Alcohol has been anchored and accepted in our society for a long time. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans, even the Egyptians, were concerned with alcohol consumption and the unpleasant consequences of excessive consumption.11 Even in the Middle Ages, heavy alcohol consumption was not uncommon, even the children were introduced to alcohol at an early age in the societies of that time.

The topic of alcohol consumption became politically explosive for the first time with the attempt to enforce the prohibition of alcohol in the USA in the middle of the 19th century. The reason for this experiment may be cited is that at the same time different authors defined addiction as a disease for the first time.12 For this reason, and the suspected link between many crimes and excessive alcohol consumption, a complete ban on alcohol has been imposed in some states of the USA and in individual cities. These attempts to legally prevent alcohol consumption lasted for different lengths of time. Prohibition experienced a renaissance in the USA once again at the time of the economic crisis (1929), when it was hoped that a ban on alcohol consumption would increase economic output. Despite all the expectations placed in it, prohibition did not deliver the desired success, in the short term there was a decline in alcohol consumption, but in the longer term the black market benefited primarily from the ban.

Nevertheless, the ban had a longer-term influence on alcohol consumption, even after the abolition of prohibition, it took a long time until the consumption reached the same amount as before the ban. In the retrospective view it is assumed that alcohol had to take on the role of a scapegoat for numerous social problems at the time of prohibition and that it was therefore "en vogue" to ban alcohol in order to achieve "economic and socio-political" interests.13

Even today, alcohol plays a major role in our society and the current discussion on the topic of "binge drinking" also shows the socio-political explosiveness of the topic, which is still inherent in the topic.

Society is currently increasingly confronted with the issue of increasing abuse of addictive substances, especially in the form of alcohol abuse. At the macro level, in my opinion, the addiction problem arises due to an increasing uprooting or question of meaning of the individual. According to Habermas, society consists of different orders14, whereby the individual has only influence on the order of the living world. The problem, however, lies in the field of tension between the ordering of the systems. The individual is between the demands placed on the economy, the expectations of the family system and many other systems and orders. This results in a pressure to perform, which can lead to a behavior that wants to bring about a loss of reality and thus compensation of the pressure through the consumption of intoxicants.


1 cf. Tölle; Windgassen, 2009, p. 138 ff.

2 cf. BZgA, 2008, p. 4

3 cf. Federal Ministry of Health, 2009, p. 38

4 cf. RKI, 2008, p. 9

5 cf. RKI, 2008, p. 12

6 ibid., p. 56

7 cf. RKI, 2006, p. 111


9 cf. Singer; Teyssen, 2005, p. 6

10 cf. Singer; Teyssen, 2005 p. 50

11 ibid. p. 32

12 cf. Singer; Teyssen, 2005, p. 9

13 ibid. P. 32

14 cf. Habermas, 1998, p. 412 f.

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The Sociological Role of Alcohol Abuse in German Society
Apollon University of Applied Sciences Bremen
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sociological, role, alcohol, abuse, german, society
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Johannes Sebastian Pott (Author), 2011, The Sociological Role of Alcohol Abuse in German Society, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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