Two of the most important policy strategies for dealing with alcohol problems and their damaging consequences are prohibition and harm reduction. The materials assigned for this week’s readings and posted in Unit 8 of the Online Review provide numerous examples of these alternative strategies. Based on those materials and other sources, I want you to compare and contrast these two approaches to “getting a grip” on alcohol-related problems in U.S. society.
Generally, prohibitionist policies aim to control alcohol-related problems by banning the use of alcohol. These strategies are sometimes known as “zero-tolerance” or “abstinence only” policies. The majority of alcohol treatment programs in the U.S. fall in this category, including AA and programs based on a disease model. The most notorious example of this approach is the Prohibition era, when alcohol was constitutionally banned from the U.S. from 1920-1933. The Lectures page for Unit 8 in the Online Review provides you with material on this “Great Experiment” and its implications for the more recent prohibitionist “War on Drugs.” Less extreme examples of policies that restrict access to alcohol are discussed in the reading by Gruenewald (2011).
On the other hand, harm reduction policies attempt to limit or minimize the hazardous consequences of alcohol (or drug) use without necessarily limiting or banning use itself (see Marlatt and Witkiewitz 2010). For instance, instead of having “zero tolerance” for drinking or drug use, harm reduction strategies might include the goals of “safer use” or “managed use.” Examples range from needle-exchange programs to reduce the risks of HIV infection among drug users to the sale of beer on college campuses to reduce risks of drunk driving (or walking) to-and-from off-campus bars. The Resources page for Unit 8 focuses on another example of harm reduction: the “wet house” for homeless, alcohol-dependent men.
Your comparison of prohibition and harm reduction strategies should: (1) begin with a clear discussion of their respective characteristics and differences; (2) present one or two examples of how they would deal differently with particular alcohol problems; and (3) conclude with your evaluation of the relative strengths or limitations of each approach. You can use material from Week 7 readings, the Online Review, or other legitimate sources from publications or the internet, but be sure to cite, quote, and reference your sources properly. I have a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding plagiarism!
You can earn as many as 15 points by providing a clear, complete, well-documented, and well-written response to this assignment in 1,000 words (approximately two single-spaced pages) or more, not counting references. The paper will receive full credit if it is:
(a) clearly focused on the assigned topic;
(b) well-organized and systematically argued;
(c) adequately supported by legitimate academic sources;
(d) free of grammatical errors, typos, and other stylistic problems.
I will deduct points to the extent that the paper:
(a) fails to address key elements of the assignment (deduct 1-4 points);
(b) wanders off topic or lacks coherence (deduct 1-4 points);
(c) fails to support arguments with relevant and reliable academic sources (deduct 1-4 points);
(d) is marked by lapses in grammar, by typos and misspelled words, or by awkward and unclear writing (deduct 1-3 points).
The paper must be turned into the Assignments folder by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 26. I will deduct two points a day for late papers. Like other assignments in the course, the paper must be your own, original work. All papers will be checked for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Be sure that you properly cite and reference any source that you use in writing this paper.
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