Ethnocultural Paper: Italian Culture and Its Impact on Substance Abuse.
It is believed there is a close link between alcohol and culture. Ethnocultural theory of understanding the interrelations of alcohol and human behavior are that "ways of drinking and of thinking about drinking are learned by individuals within the context in which they learn ways of doing other things and of thinking about them--that is, whatever else drinking may be, it is an aspect of culture about which patterns of belief and behavior are modeled by a combination of example, exhortation, rewards, punishments, and the many other means, both formal and informal, that societies use for communicating norms, attitudes, and values" (Heath,1982). Thus, how we learn to drink and continue to drink is determined most by the drinking we observe, the attitudes about drinking we pick up, and the people we drink with. This paper will discuss the Italian culture and its influence on substance use. .
Italy's location in Europe was assessable in traveling from western and eastern Europe, which allowed this country to be invaded easily by foreigners. Additionally, Rome is the center of the Catholic Church, which attracted many foreigners to make pilgrimages to this holy land (Rotunno & McGoldrick, 1982). "With little protection or support from the state or the Church, Italians turned to their families, close neighbors, and their own internal resources: It was dangerous to be too trusting of anyone with whom they did not have personal connections" (Straussner, 2001). There is an unwritten code within the Italian culture "l'ordine della famiglia" meaning that the family comes first and each member of the family are expected to stay close, coming together in crisis and to take care of those that seem vulnerable, and need help ( Gambino, 1974). This strong family attachment is placed above all other obligations and personal needs.