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Cultural Aspects

Culture is the total way of life of a human group—a learned, shared system of beliefs, behaviors, values, norms, symbols, and customs. Culture profoundly influences how people perceive, define, and regulate intoxicated behavior; the meaning and symbolism of psychoactive substances and their use; and the roles played by persons consuming psychoactive substances.

Integration of Alcohol and Drug Use

Ethnography, the study of culture, reveals that psychoactive substance use is woven throughout the fabric of social life in a large proportion of cultures, especially small-scale, traditional societies. Perhaps most familiar to readers are accounts of southern European societies where alcohol is considered a food, meals and a variety of social and ritual occasions are incomplete without alcohol, people drink daily, alcohol is a social lubricant, but drunkenness ...

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