The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, Septermber 17, 2010.

Three Signs of a Temperance Lecture

From: Stanton Peele
Sent: Sep 17, 2010 12:23 PM
To: KBS-LIST@LISTSERV.NODAK.EDU
Subject: Three Signs of a Temperance Lecture

I was thinking this when I listened to Scafato in Impruneta, but it applies to Rehm in Rome as well:

  1. No benefits from alcohol are mentioned. This is notable since the US Dietary Guidelines have announced that: "Strong evidence consistently demonstrates that compared to nondrinkers, individuals who drink moderately have lower risk of coronary heart disease...Moderate evidence suggests that compared to nondrinkers, individuals who drink moderately have a slower cognitive decline with age..." This is not even counting what have long been noted as positive cultural and social uses for alcohol (toasts, celebrations, conviviality). When I asked Scafato in Italy to name one benefit of drinking, he refused/couldn't. This all is especially noteworthy since reformers are now noting benefits from marijuana, medical and otherwise.
  2. No group differences are discussed. Scafato ignored Italy's advantages over average European outcomes. Rehm actually mentioned these advantages re Italy in Rome, then sloughed them off. Since elsewhere (in the EMCDDA Harm Reduction volume) Rehm emphasizes patterns - read normalized v. binge drinking - it seemed strange that he didn't discuss this key aspect of Italian-Southern drinking. Of course, polemically, the purpose of this omission is to paint an unremittingly negative picture of drinking. In research psychology, as well as in considering clinical outcomes, science is about differences - the important practical AND theoretical questions concern which approach produces the best outcomes, since elimination of a phenomenon is wish-fulfilling fantasy.
  3. "Pleasure" is never acknowledged in relation to alcohol. Scafato, Rehm, and Room would never refer to the pleasures of drinking. When Room worked at Berkeley's ARG, surveys asked about reasons for and experiences from drinking (Why do you, dear reader, drink? Why do Rehm, Room, and Scafato?). ALWAYS, the number one answer to such questions is "fun" and "pleasure." Asking drinkers how alcohol makes them feel, by far the most common response for Cahalan (1970 - ah, old Don was quite a drinker himself) was "felt happy and cheerful." It might seem a remarkable revelation that most drinkers enjoy drinking if your knowledge of alcohol was limited to this list and KBS. Is it good science when an approach consistently omits mention of the most evident aspect of a phenomenon?

Stanton Peele