Social Harm of the Prohibition

Prohibition refers to the period when the United States established a law to prevent the manufacturing, selling, and transportation of all alcoholic beverages within the country. The government became a market participant by creating the control jurisdiction. However, the enforcement was difficult as many Americans sought an alternative to illegally obtaining liquor, especially distilled spirits. The other aftermath was the rise of organized crime, as different groups established underground structures to continue their alcohol business. Thus, prohibition was considered more trouble than regulation due to collateral, social harm (organized crimes, reduced revenue, and bad liquor), inability to prevent consumption, and poor use of taxpayer money.

The government underestimated the adverse social harm of the prohibition. The years of legalization were characterized by rampant crimes directly linked to the sale of illegal liquor. The groups were well organized to include the manufacturers, transporters, and sales representatives. As expected in all enterprises involving many groups, conflicts are bound to arise and may be solved through the courts. In the case where the business is illegal, there have to be illegal means of solving issues. The implication is that the entrepreneurs in this venture were willing to commit murder just to remain with their operations and silence spies who could inform the authorities. The result was heightened criminal activities, leading to insecurities.

Moreover, with the ban on legal alcohol, the government lost the revenues directly from its manufacture, licensing, and value-added tax. People whose income was sourced from alcoholic beverages, such as the bar attendants, lost employment. The implication is that the flow of money in the economy was low. Noteworthy, the illegal alcohol business was run by a few drug lords and cartels. The implication was the loss of employment by people who worked in the breweries while the drug lords amassed wealth. In addition, it provided a perfect opportunity for corruption because some police received bribes from illegal businesses. The effects of the change in money control have significant social impacts that affect families and individuals who lost their source of income.

Alcoholic drinks that were manufactured illegally did not undergo standard assessment to establish whether the liquor was safe for human consumption. Consequently, substandard alcohol whose chemical contents were sold. For example, the homemade distilled spirits may have high levels of ethanol. Its consumption can lead people to become blind or even die if there are other toxins in the alcohol. The substandard alcohol slowly leads to the degradation of a person’s health. The nation can have many people seeking medical help, but since the brew is illegal, it becomes hard to make a diagnosis.

Secondly, prohibition failed to achieve the purpose for which it was established-stopping alcohol consumption. Remarkably, alcohol is a psychotropic substance that gradually leads to addiction, which is characterized by compulsivity and obsessiveness. People who are dependent on alcohol can use trickery or any measures just to get the drug. Prohibition, without considering the nature of addiction, was a failure. The illegal investors understood they had a ready-made market if they risked making liquor.

Consequently, enforcement of the prohibition became difficult, as the police officers were unable to arrest all the users. Worse still, there was an influx of new people introduced to alcohol and became regular customers, even against their wishes. For example, if a new customer is recruited, they are likely to become regular due to the characteristic of alcohol to create cravings. Once the person is hooked, they cannot seek professional help from the rehabilitation centers for fear of interrogation by the law enforcers. The more the people become addicted, the greater the difficulties the police encounter in curbing the violators.

Thirdly, the government had to allocate a lot of money in its endeavors to enforce the prohibition. For example, with the increased number of criminals in the liquor industry, the police have to arrest many people. The result was that the cells and prisons were filled with individuals whose only crime was using an alcohol-an illegal substance. Many detainees mean that the government must use more money for the maintenance of the prisons and feeding the inmates. Yet, there is no investment in the detention or reward because when people are secluded from the society for a long time, they require help with reintegration. The money used in employing more police and detaining people could have been used in the development agenda. Therefore, the leaders who decided to experiment with prohibition failed to understand the financial repercussion on other development agendas.

In conclusion, prohibition was a failure, as it never achieved its objective of minimizing or finishing the problem of alcohol addiction in the country. Instead, it caused gross violation and disrespect of the law. Many criminal gangs sprung up and disturbed the peace of other citizens in the society. The government had reduced revenue and was forced to utilize the little resources in enforcement. Yet, the more they tried to control, the more people were introduced to alcohol and became addicted to the unstandardized liquor. Hence, the prohibition experiment remains a lesson that government should legalize some drugs. Emphasis should be given to government regulations and control.

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1. DemoEssays. "Social Harm of the Prohibition." June 10, 2023.


DemoEssays. "Social Harm of the Prohibition." June 10, 2023.