Morality is defined as “a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society” (Morality, 2016). Prohibition was an era that began in 1920 and ended in 1933. In the early twentieth century, prohibition of alcohol was a time where an action was judged to be morally wrong and decided so in a court of law. This essay will discuss what prohibition is, history of the laws that are/were related to alcohol, and the impact of alcohol on society, and how it has affected the counseling profession.
On January 16, 1920, the eighteenth amendment to the United States constitution entered into law. This amendment allowed the federal government to regulate liquor, which had been controlled on mostly a state or local level (Heller, 2015). The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was the driving force behind driving prohibition into federal laws. The WCTU spread disinformation, stating that drunkenness weakens the family unit and its income, and that it was overall wicked.
In the early part of prohibition, there were fines and jail time assigned to those people who not adhere to the prohibition law. Bootlegging was known as the “illegal sale of liquor” (Heller, 2015). Bootlegging gave way to the increase of mobsters and criminal activity. Furthermore, bootlegging became an underground business making large amounts of revenue for mobsters and for one of the most notorious, Al Capone. Women who would have never entered a bar before prohibition became patrons of underground alcoholic nightclubs, known as speakeasies.
Bootlegging appeared to be most common in metropolitan cities like Detroit, New York, and Chicago. It was ordinary to see “illegal distillation devices” and “liquor preparation kits” known as stills (Heller, 2015). Several events occurred that did not promote the advancement of the prohibition movement. These events included corrupt enforcement officials, immigrant individuals who used alcohol as an integral part of their culture, and a change in social outlook. President Herbert Hoover took office in 1929.
With this, the Wickersham Commission created a report about many weaknesses with the overview and enforcement of laws regarding the eighteenth amendment. On December 5, 1933, the twenty-third amendment was created, which repealed the eighteenth amendment of the U. S. constitution. Prohibition is not only seen as a historical era when the federal government attempted to stop the illicit use and/or sale of alcohol. It represents a time when an attempt was made to legislate morality. The legislation of morality is still an argument that is debated today.
The legislation of morality questions where the line between public and private behaviors should be drawn (Heller, 2015). For the sake of grasping the lingo of judicial policy regarding alcohol, the term “dry” is a county in the United States, “whose government forbids the sale of any kind of alcoholic beverages,” “limited,” also known as “moist” is a county which has certain limitations on the sale of alcohol, and a “wet” county does not have any barring and/or laws regarding the consumption, sale, or manufacture of alcohol (Wet and dry counties: Control and license states, 2014).
Interestingly, I grew up in Blount County, Tennessee, which was a “dry county” until November 4, 2008, when the vote won to allow liquor, but with certain limitations. Blount is considered a “limited” county in regards to alcohol. Knox County, considered a “wet” county is where I reside now. However, there are limitations in Knox County of when you can buy it. One of the largest manufacturers of whiskey is Jack Daniels Whiskey, which is distilled in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The distillery is located in Moore County, Tennessee, which is considered a dry county.
No other alcohol, including Jack Daniel’s whiskey can be bought in Moore County. However, Jack Daniel’s whiskey is available in the Jack Daniel’s distillery gift shop, bought as a souvenir (Kelly, 2013). Howard Moss, author of The Impact of Alcohol on Society: A Brief Overview states that sixty-five percent of the U. S. population drinks alcohol (2013). The relationship between the consumption of alcohol and alcohol-associated deaths has been studied in more than eighty studies.
Hypertensive disease, cerebrovascular disease, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, digestive disease, and liver cirrhosis are all medical conditions that can be caused by the heavy consumption of alcohol (Moss, 2013). Sadly, the heavy consumption of alcohol can negatively affect families by causing domestic violence, family dysfunction, and “other problems provoking the necessity for intervention” (Moss, 2013). Moss goes on to state that alcoholism can severely affect those individuals with mental conditions, such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, and anxiety disorders.
Due to the nature of mental disorders, the use of alcohol can create a challenge for those individuals who manage the mental health care of these individuals. There is a higher percentage of homelessness for those individual who suffer from schizophrenia and abuse alcohol (Moss, 2013). Moss also states that those persons who are dependent on alcohol and have some type of psychiatric comorbidity are inclined to have “a more severe clinical course” and their treatment would be more unmanageable (2013).
He goes on to inject that in recent times, the management of “hard-to-treat” patients has made “stability in the community” and “harm reduction” focal points for the care of these types of individuals (2013). Lastly, Moss presents a great and mostly honest opinion that “As a legal drug that is well integrated into our social fabric, alcohol affects many aspects of American health, safety, and well-being (2013). It is interesting that alcohol is not a drug included on the schedules of controlled substances.
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 was created to categorize different substances based on their potential for abuse (Levinthal, 2016). It is obvious that alcohol has a potential for abuse, but it is free to consume, buy, or manufacture, for the most part, anywhere. In contrast, other drugs included on schedule of controlled substances are being found to have important healing and/or therapeutic properties. In any case, as more research is done on drugs and alcohol, more information will be presented to demonstrate healing properties, and it may have started with the prohibition of alcohol almost one hundred years ago.