Intoxication, harm and pleasure: An analysis of the Australian National Alcohol Strategy




Keane, Helen

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Taylor & Francis Group


This article contrasts two understandings of intoxication. The first, found in public health discourse, constructs intoxication as a harm produced by risky alcohol consumption and highlights its many negative consequences for individual and social well-being. The model of intoxication as a harm dominates the new Australian National Alcohol Strategy, which includes the reduction of intoxication as one of four priority areas. The second understanding, based on the everyday experiences of drinkers as well as popular discourse, approaches intoxication as a positive and enhanced state: a form of bodily pleasure. The article argues that while the understanding of intoxication as a harm is epidemiologically incontrovertible, the gap between the public health and everyday understandings of intoxication is a problem for campaigns that aim to alter drinking practices. This is particularly the case when, as recent research suggests, young people's drinking is part of a wide-ranging culture of hedonistic consumption. A clearer picture of the varied uses of alcohol and cultures of drinking, including controlled intoxication among young people, would enhance public health understandings of alcohol consumption and its risks and pleasures.



Keywords: alcohol; alcohol consumption; alcohol intoxication; article; Australia; consciousness; cultural factor; diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders; drinking behavior; government; health care policy; human; public health; risk; social behavior; Alcohol; Consumption; Drinking; Intoxication



Critical Public Health


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