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Cultural Differences and Similarities

Addiction may have different or similar affect on different group of people or cultures. This article enumerates the differences and similarities of the effect of addiction on six groups of people – families, adolescents, women, people of color, disable persons, and Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals. The paper first presents a chart demonstrating the similarities and dissimilarities in effect of addiction on these different groups and then provides enumerations of the brief reasons presented in the table.

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Table 1: Similarities and Differences in Effect of Addiction on different social groups

Families Adolescents Women People of color Persons with disabilities Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals
Physical abuse Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Neglect of family/children Yes No Yes varies No No
Domestic Violence Yes Yes Yes Yes No Low
Physical Health problem Fatigue No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight loss No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Coughing No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood shot eyes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Erratic Menstrual Cycle No Yes if female Yes Yes if female Yes if female Yes if female
Early Menopause No No Yes Yes if female Yes if female Yes if female
Cirrhosis No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Depression No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Racialism No No No Yes Yes Yes
Social Withdrawal / Alienation No Yes Yes Varies Varies Varies
Low self-esteem No Yes Yes Varies Varies Varies
Crime No Yes Low Yes Yes Yes

When the addict is a parent, it adversely affects the parent child relationship throughout the childhood of the child (Barnard, 2000, p. 16). Further, when alcohol is introduced into the system of a family, it creates an emotional disconnect among the members. This is called homeostasis (Dayton, 2010). Such families are constantly under pressure to maintain a peaceful atmosphere such that there is a lack of self-expression in the family. Therefore, there is a loss of connection among family members as they avoid communication among themselves. Addiction with a family can lead to disconnected family atmosphere.

Adolescents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are found not develop fully physically. The physical development of the teenagers is hampered due to the dependency on drugs (, 2010). Substance abuse in adolescents can develop symptoms of physical problems like weight loss, blood shot or glazed eyes, coughing, fatigue, etc. on the behavioral level, and the effect is severe, as teenagers get withdrawn from family or friends.

Their social development is seriously hampered. Such children have problem with coping with schoolwork and have a tendency to break rules. Addict adolescents have problem in development of social behavior and often face mental health problems.

Women have a higher need for drugs or alcohol during the menstrual cycle. Further, this may lead to early menopause due to high degree of addiction. Often women with acute addiction problem face difficulty in getting pregnant (Sherwood, 2011). Further, women alcoholics are believed to die sooner of liver cirrhosis than men. On behavioral level addict women show signs of depression, and women turn to alcohol or drug addiction as a means to cope with depression.

Addiction among African American community leads to similar kind of effect as in whites, but to a greater intensity. Addiction among blacks may lead to greater chance of cirrhosis and eventually dying of it. Therefore, addiction related deaths are higher among African Americans. The risk of cirrhosis, traffic victimization, criminalization, etc. is higher among African Americans (Drug, 2011).

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As blacks are mostly poor, there is a greater chance of the black addicts to get into addiction related crimes. Further, there is also the problem related to racial disparities and poverty that increases the higher incidence rate of addiction among blacks.

Addiction may have severe effect on the mental health of people with disability. Usually, depression, like that in women, is the main cause of addiction. Disabled people are inclined towards self-medicated alcohol or prescribed drugs in order to alleviate the pain that they feel.

The cause of addiction among gays, lesbians, and transvestites is the homophobic attitude of the society towards this group. This creates low self-esteem, alienation, and drug addiction. Addiction among gays may lead to the common physical problems like cirrhosis, weight loss, etc. however the behavioral problems associated with gays are greater. They are as it is oppressed by the “othering” of the society. This eventually causes in extreme alienation and withdrawal. Societal oppression is the greatest cause of addiction among gays and lesbians. Therefore, its effect is more behavioral and psychological than physical. Acute depressions, lack of self-esteem, guilt feeling, are frequent effect of addiction among gays and lesbians.

The effect of addiction on these six groups is different. However, it is clear that the behavioral and psychological effect is more acute on the addicts and their environment rather than physical problems. The physical problems are almost same of all addicts with few greater complications among women. Further, blacks have a greater susceptibility towards the physical problems. However, the greater effect is behavioral as addiction leads to social alienation, depression, and withdrawal behavior. The black community is also closely associated with addiction related crime.


Barnard, M. (2000). Drug addiction and families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Dayton, T. (2010). Living With Addiction. Web.

Drug rehabs. (2011). African American and Hispanic Alcohol Abusers Need More Residential Alcohol Treatment. Web.

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Livestrong. (2010). The Effects of Substance Abuse on Adolescent Development. Web.

Sherwood, R. (2011). Effects of Drug Addiction on Women. Web.

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