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ALCOHOLISM-A Culprit in Marital Deterioration

As to begin this paper, let me first define the word alcoholism. Alcoholism can be defined as a chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol or repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages (Medialine Plus, n.d.). Types of alcoholic beverages can range from beer, whiskey, brandy, wine and more. Consuming alcohol has become an accepted norm in society today. According to the World Health Organization, around 76 million people around the world suffer from alcohol related disorders. More and more teenagers are beginning to consume alcohol very early in life. It is estimated that around 3 million teenagers in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 17 are problem drinkers. A statistic also states that in the U.S., more than 40% of those who start drinking at the age of 14 or younger become alcoholic (Alcohol Abuse Statistics, n.d.). Consumption of alcohol is not wrong as long as the limit for it is not exceeded. However, many people fail to adhere to their limits and therefore fall prey to its consequences. The most concerning issue is that even married adults who are supposed to have good rationalization have also found their selves trapped in alcoholism. Thus, this campaign is designed to create awareness of alcoholism in married or soon to be married couples as most of the ads against alcoholism are not widely focused on this group of people in society. Most advertisements are projected towards teenagers, young adults and also focus its messages only on the health effects of alcoholism and drink driving. Alcoholism brings grave danger to the health of an individual. It not only brings physical health effects but also mental health effects. Alcoholism is one the cause of many complicated illness. One of the main physical health effects of Alcoholism is that it causes liver cirrhosis that leads to the dysfunction of the liver. It also causes other liver diseases that are related to alcohol such as alcoholic hepatitis and the accumulation of fat in the liver, also called steatosis (NIAAA, 2005). Consuming alcohol without limit can also cause various heart diseases and cardiovascular complications. Alcoholics also have an increased risk towards cancer and sexual dysfunctions. Alcoholic dementia is also another serious illness that is related to alcoholism. This disease is caused by deficiency of a vitamin called thiamine. The effect of this disease is vision changes and impaired memory. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause damages to an individuals central nervous system and peripheral nervous system; both are main systems that ensure the human body functions orderly (NIAAA, 1999). Alcohol also causes weight gain in individuals.

Besides causing physical health effects, excessive drinking can also bring effects to the mental health. Alcohol, if overly consumed, can be toxic to the brain. Most famously, alcoholism causes psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. At a more alarming level, alcohol abuse causes Psychosis, confusion and organic brain syndrome (physical disorders that causes impaired mental function). Panic disorders are also another mental health effects caused by alcoholism. Alcohol is also one of the factors that increase aggression in an individual (U.S. Department of Health & Human Service, n.d.). The physical and mental effects of alcoholism do play a part in the well being of a family. In recent years, alcoholism has become one of the factors that causes marriage breakdown. In the United States, research has demonstrated that continued alcohol abuse is one of the major risk factors for violence in intimate relationships (Alcohol Abuse Statistics, n.d.). The increasing rate of divorce is alarming and some cases have alcoholism as a culprit. Alcoholics have an alarming rate of divorce as they are four times more likely to divorce than the non-alcoholic (Tone Health, 2008). So, how does alcohol affect the well being of a family or a couple? It is always sad to hear that a couple had broken up or divorced and when alcoholism is the reason, it is always more concerning. A mans physical health is always important if he is married and has young kids. He is supposed to stay healthy in order to support his wife and children. However, if this man becomes addict to alcoholism then the family is surely going to lose a place of support. Getting addicted to alcohol means that the man has become prone to the all the physical effects of alcoholism as mentioned above. The physical health of the man is of extra importance if he is the sole bread winner of the family. If he is diagnosed with an illness, then it is not only he that suffers but also the family. The family is dispossessed of their physiological needs such as lack of money for food. The family also looses safety needs such as protection and security. Added with all this, the family is also dispossessed from their social needs such as love. If the man suffers from cancer, then he wont be strong enough to provide all these needs to his wife as well as his children. Even if the man has not yet been diagnosed with any illness, being addicted to alcohol can still cause problems to the family. This is because, if he is addicted to alcohol, it is more likely that he would be spending most of his money on alcohol beverages. His also would not have time for the family as most of his time would be spent with his friends outside home for consuming alcohol.

Mental effects of alcohol to an individual can as well cause marital deterioration. As alcohol causes aggressive behavior, it is likely that an alcohol addict would behave aggressively towards his spouse or kids. He would most probably be aggravated if he is questioned of his habits by his wife and this could further lead to arguments and fights. An unhappy spouse would someday file for divorce because of the inability to tolerate these fights and arguments. It would also be a mental torture for the children to witness these ongoing arguments between their parents. Mental illness such as Psychosis can result in a person being abusive towards his family members. Imagine a wife getting beaten up by her husband everyday because he is alcoholic who suffers from mental illness. The children of an alcoholic are also not spared from this misery. They would most likely be the first place for an alcoholic father to show his anger and abusive behavior. A mother fearing for the safety of her kids would surely take divorce as her option to save herself and her children from all this misery caused by alcoholism. Besides all this effects, alcoholism can also affect the well being of a family in a sense that if a parent is addicted to alcohol, there is a high possibility that a young teenager would pick up the habit also hence, endangering the well being of the teenager. Teenagers and young children are also affected by their parents addiction to alcohol because they would be neglected and their parents would not take their welfare into consideration. This is one of the ways that a teenager would get involved in social problems such as crimes, unprotected sex and gangsterism. As for the spouses whose partner is an alcoholic, they would probably find other avenues to seek happiness such as having an affair with other men or women. These affairs are the cause of negligence from either partner in a relationship resulting in the relationship ending up in chaos or divorce. After looking at the effects alcoholism can bring to a family and a relationship, it is wise to say that it is important to create a campaign on the dangers of alcoholism among the married and soon to be married couples. In order for a campaign to function well, there should be certain goals that the campaign need to fulfill. One of the main goals of this campaign is to create awareness among married and soon to be married couples. Many people who consume alcohol do not realize the dangers and problems that they and their family can face in future. Sometimes it takes others or the media to bring them to their senses. Another goal of this campaign is to inform the public that alcoholism does not only bring harm to health but also is playing a part in the rise of divorce cases and domestic violence. Most people only believe that alcohol is dangerous to health but due to the

lack of exposure by the media on the family problems caused by alcoholism the public do not realize that alcohol is also one of the perpetrators. So, through this campaign the public will be made known of alcohols role in marital deterioration. The goal of this campaign is also to make alcoholics realize that their actions are hurting their spouse and children. Their addiction to alcohol can make them unconsciously act abusive and wild on their loved ones. In addition, this campaigns goal is also to inform the public that alcohol is addictive. Some people consume alcohol on a very high level. They do not realize that as time goes by they are prone to get addicted to it. An additional function of this campaign is to inform the public the ways for preventing alcoholism. Some people realize the dangers of alcoholism but they do not know the ways for preventing it. They are people who are also shy to seek advice from others as they feel that it would affect their self image. This campaign would provide them adequate information on preventing alcoholism. An extra goal of this campaign is also to provide the public with information on treatments for alcoholic diseases and treatments for withdrawal from alcoholism. Some people are not well informed and dont even realize that there is treatment for alcoholism and diseases associated with it. They tend to surrender themselves to faith and continue to drown their miseries in alcohol. It is possible that they would turn over a new leaf if they were told that there is treatment for them. Therefore, to fulfill all the goals set; this campaign is designed to be carried out in two ways. First, a television advertisement is created to show the public how alcoholism affects a family. Second, pamphlets containing information on the effects, the ways of prevention and also the various treatments for alcoholism is to be distributed to the public in line with the launch of the television advertisement. According to social psychology, people face a situation called cognitive dissonance when their actions or behaviors are not in line with their believes or perceptions. Cognitive dissonance can be defined as a drive or feeling of discomfort, originally defined as being caused by holding two or more inconsistent cognitions and subsequently defined as being caused by performing an action that is discrepant from ones customary, typically positive selfconception (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2007). A person who is addicted to alcohol would have a believe that alcohol is harmful; however his behavior in consuming alcohol is not tally with his believes. There are three ways for him to reduce his dissonance. First, he would bring his behavior to match his believes by quitting alcohol. Second, he would attempt to justify his behavior by changing one of his dissonant cognitions. He would either justify his behavior by convincing

himself that alcohol does not really cause cancer. Finally, he would add new cognitions to justify his behavior. That is by believing that alcohol reduces stress and sorrows (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2007). However, the best way to reduce his dissonance is through the first step, that is to quit alcohol, but this is not easy for a person to do on their own. So, this campaign will help those who are addicted to alcoholism to quit alcohol through persuasive communication. According to the Yale Attitude Change approach, people are most likely to change their attitude depending on the source of the communication, the nature of the communication and the nature of the audience (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2007). Thus, the television advertisement is created as a peripheral route to persuasion. In this route of communication people are more likely to be persuaded by peripheral cues rather than taking their time to elaborate on arguments. This television advertisement is made of pictures that are shown in sequence of how a persons addiction to alcohol can end up in marital deterioration and divorce. So, when viewing this advertisement, viewers would not have arguments that they need to take time to elaborate on. It would also be easy for the viewers to understand the message. Peripheral route to persuasion is chosen here because of the nature of the audience. As mentioned the main target audience are alcoholics and also people who regularly consume alcohol. Considering the state of mind of an alcoholic, it is most likely that an alcoholic would not be in a mood for thinking and elaborating on a persuasive message. They are most likely to be easily persuaded through peripheral cues. However, there is a possibility that this segment of target audience will pay more attention to arguments and elaborate them because of their relevance to the topic of persuasion. For alcoholics and regular alcohol consumers, this advertisement will be deemed important by them as they are personally related to alcoholism. Hence, they will pay more attention. Then again, it should be considered here that the viewers that would view this advertisement are not all alcoholics or regular consumers of alcohol. Furthermore, considering that one of the goals of this campaign is to inform the public that alcohol has become one perpetrator of divorce cases, it is wise to use the peripheral route to persuasion as the normal public would not want to elaborate and think because the message is not personally relevant to them. They would be more persuaded by peripheral cues such as the music and pictures in the advertisement. Viewers can also be persuaded through fear arousing communications (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2007). This advertisement could arouse fear in alcoholics and also regular consumers of

alcohol. This happens in a sense that after viewing this advertisement, people would fear that their consumption of alcohol could harm their loved ones. They would also have the fear that they would end up helpless and unable to support their wives and children. This advertisement would also arouse fear of addiction in the minds of regular alcohol consumers. The pictures used in this advertisement are not gory as it is believed that too much of fear aroused will result in failure as people would restrain themselves from the advertisement and deny the importance of the message. It would also make them unable to think rationally about the issue. As this advertisement is created on the lines of emotion such as love, sorrow and sadness, it is also most likely to appeal to the normal public as well. However, there are drawbacks to this advertisement because the peripheral route to persuasion only guarantees an attitude change that is temporary. The fear arousing communication by the advertisement would also not work because it is either not enough fear aroused or enough fear is aroused but the advertisement did not provide ways for the audience to reduce their fears. Hence, that is why this advertisement is coupled with the handouts of pamphlets. The functions of the pamphlets are to provide information on how to reduce the consumption of alcohol and also ways to prevent alcoholism. It would also provide information on the available treatments for diseases caused by alcoholism. This campaign would have house to house distribution of pamphlets as well as setting up distribution booths in highly populated places such as shopping malls and bus stations. The distribution booths would have credible people such as medical officers, marriage consultants and people from the World Health Organization stationed to hand out the pamphlets and also provide extra information and consultation regarding alcoholism. The idea of having credible people is because according to the Yale attitude change approach credible people persuade more compared to people who lack credibility. Moreover, the heuristic-systematic model of persuasion suggests that when taking the peripheral route to persuasion, people are more likely to use heuristics. In this case, people would use the Experts are always right heuristics due to the credibility of the person who handout the pamphlets (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2007). On the other hand, pamphlets are also distributed house to house because the advertisement alone would not cause a permanent attitude change. People watching the advertisement would not be persuaded enough because the advertisement did not provide information to counter alcoholism. Also, if the advertisement did arouse fear, people will seek information to reduce the fear. So, the pamphlet which contains all the information to reduce their fears would be very helpful. The

advantage of having the advertisement and the pamphlets is that both help to enhance the effectiveness of one another which benefits the public. By working hand in hand, the advertisement and the pamphlet would motivate people to analyze the message more precisely. By doing so, people would most likely change their attitude through the central route of persuasion which assures an attitude change that is long-lasting and resistant to change. As to conclude this paper, it is wise to say that alcoholism is dangerous and has a profound effect not only on the individual but also to the individuals family and the society. Creating awareness on the effects of alcoholism in marital deterioration is very important as the divorce rate around the world is rising. Many women and children are paying the price for their husbands or fathers irresponsible act. It is a hope that by having this campaign, people around the world can be saved and prevented from facing misery in their families as well as in their lives. In order for a campaign to be successful, detailed analysis should be done on the methods and the ways of communicating a message to an audience. Finally, both central and peripheral route to persuasion should be practiced to ensure that this campaign has a lasting effect.


Alcohol Abuse Statistics (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://www.about-alcoholabuse.com/Alcohol_Abuse_Statistics.html

Aronson, K., Wilson, T.D., & Akert, R.M. (2007) Social Psychology (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Medialine Plus. Alcoholism (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000944.htm National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (1999, October). Alcohol and coronary heart diseases. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa45.htm National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (2005, January). Alcoholic liver disease. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa64/aa64.htm Tone Health. (2008, March 11). Alcoholism and Divorce. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://www.tonehealth.org/Alcoholism-and-Divorce.htm U.S. Department of Health & Human Service. Diseases & Conditions (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2010, from http://www.hhs.gov/diseases/index.shtml


I hereby declare that this project is wholly my own work, and that no part of it has been plagiarized. I am aware that if any my work was found to be plagiarized, serious action would be taken against me.