Policy Paper-BEHS

Paper 2: “Getting a Grip: From Prohibition to Harm Reduction”

Two of the most important policy strategies for dealing with alcohol problems and their damaging consequences are prohibition and harm reduction.   Based on the 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 “Great Experiment” and its implications provide information 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.  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.

Grading:

Well-written response to this assignment in 1,000 words (approximately two single-spaced pages) or more, not counting references.  The paper should include all of the following:

(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.

Format:

  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Separate title page
  • 12-point font
  • Single-spaced
  • Numbered pages
  • One-inch margins
 
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