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This paper analyses critically the scant literature which exists on the role of alcohol in the lives of people with learning difficulties. Though the research evidence is largely insecure, it does seem relatively clear that people with learning difficulties drink considerably less and abstain in higher numbers than the general population. In spite of this, the literature is predominantly characterised by a focus on the potential dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. In contrast, the possibility that a great many people with learning difficulties may have their access to alcohol debarred is not considered to be a problem requiring attention. It is argued that this is based on a failure to appreciate the cultural significance of alcohol for most people, and that the discourse on learning difficulties is being underpinned by a concern with physical, but not cultural access.
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