Alcohol and Society
Alcohol and Society
Throughout history, society has engaged in taking substances such as alcohol, that alter our physical being or our psychological state of mind. There are many experiences and pressures that force people to feel like they have to drink in order to cope with life, but for many alcohol is a part of everyday life, just like any other beverage. Alcohol is introduced to us in many ways, through our family, television, movies, and friends’. These “sociocultural variants are at least as important as physiological and psychological variants when we are trying to understand the interrelations of alcohol and human behavior”#. How we perceive
drinking and continue drinking can be determined by the drinking habits we see, either by who we drink with, or the attitudes about drinking we learn over the years. The chances of people drinking in ways that can harm others and ultimatley themselves can be seen by the correlation of educational lessons, cultural beliefs and the usage of alcohol. Looking at all the possibilities, the complex question we must ask is why do people drink? Is it through their defiance of law, the accessibility of alcohol, teachings of others or the values set in place in their society?
Every society has its own views on how the consumption of alcohol should be handled and regulated. Their differences create a trickle effect of how it is used, and is distinctive to that culture or society. Many cultures drinking habits go hand in hand with religion, and social customs. Drinking alcohol is in many cases a part of extensive learned tradition, where people pride themselves with their ability to hold their liquor. In countries where alcohol is part of the “norm”, the outcomes of drinking habits or the effects of alcohol are much different, “A population that drinks daily may have a high rate of cirrhosis and other medical problems but few accidents, fights, homicides, or other violent alcohol-associated conflicts; a population with predominantly binge drinking shows the opposite complex of drinking problems”#. It has been observed that cultures with rich traditions and acceptance of alcohol use tend to deal less with the typical alcohol related problems, compared to the cultures who treat alcohol as an escape or something that will make them better in the eyes of others. In these societies, like the U.S. alcohol hasn’t always been present and grown to be accepted through rich tradition. The amount of regulations and negative views on drinking in the U.S. has led to abuse and deviancy, creating a high frequency of alcoholics.
People drink in many ways, for many different reasons. We drink socially, to gain acceptance into a group. We drink alone to ease stress, to cope with our problems, or we “drink because we like the taste or how it makes us feel”#. Often drinking is a learned behavior, starting out as a social drinker; you quickly become psychologically and physically dependent. When someone reaches this stage they are often classified as an alcoholic. To an alcoholic, drinking becomes a compulsion; they cannot stop themselves from having another drink, like a social drinker can. In many cases alcoholics don’t even have to drink continuously in order to be an alcoholic. One the problems of alcohol addiction is that it’s something that doesn’t just effect the individual but it effects, friends and family as well. Spouse abuse, child abuse and dysfunctional family relationships can all be influenced by alcohol abuse.
In the United States alone the drinking patterns throughout history have changed dramatically to reflect the times. Starting out in colonial times the usage of alcohol use was seen as a blessing, and harmless to society. It was acceptable to drink while at work, and during social events, however drinking alone was highly frowned upon. Many early religions believed that alcohol was a gift from God, “man should partake of God’s gift with out wasting or abusing it”#. To enhance and encourage the social aspect of drinking, Taverns were built as a meeting hall where people of all ages could go and drink; it was considered the center of social life. Even children in colonial times were coaxed into drinking as soon as they were old enough to drink from a glass. Parents in this time hoped to teach the children at this young stage to drink in small amounts so that later in life they wouldn’t misuse alcohol. Later on in the 19th century, the Taverns of colonial times eventually all changed into the more modern Saloon. A place where all men could gather to get away from their families. During the existence of the saloon the Christian church began to see the consumption of alcohol as an evil, and no longer accepted alcohol as the universal drink of the church. Today the effects of history are seen through the defiance of alcohol use and the probing reverence to abstinence, which is rarely practiced, but when it is, it goes largely