Alcohol: The Ambiguous Molecule
Alcohol can be an item of diet, a medicine, sometimes an element in religious ritual. It is a valued object for the connoisseur, a traded commodity and a symbol of national pride (wine for instance in France, whisky in Scotland). But at another level it is just a molecule. That molecule is an instrument both of pleasure and of destruction and hence the fundamental ambiguity. The range of social and medical problems associated with alcohol and the history of related treatment methods (including the temperance movement, prohibition, aa and a range of contemporary approaches) are considered here. Griffith Edwards identifies what can be learned from this experience and the accompanying science so as to set more rational and effective policies in the future. What will happen about alcohol is in part embedded in what society will do about dangerous, pleasure giving drugs in general.