There is a lot of pressure for adults to drink. If you are out to dinner and are offered a glass of wine, you’ll most likely be questioned or even challenged if you turn it down. We’ve been taught that drinking is essential to having a good time. We’ve been sold the idea that all but the hardest liquor is really quite soft and that wine is actually good for us. So how could you possibly turn down the drink, unless you have a problem? Alcohol is the only drug in the 21st century that people will question you for not using.
Alcohol and nicotine are considered by most people to be soft drugs. We compare them to the drugs that we’ve made illegal and see them as less deadly. We normalize their use and encourage people to take pride in being able to “handle” their drinking. The pressure that we put on each other to drink is a lot like the peer pressure that we teach our kids to resist. Most people disconnect from the fact that this peer pressure is can be deadly. Yet alcohol and tobacco remain the leading causes of preventable death in the US. Even amid America’s opioid crisis, it is tobacco and alcohol abuse that do the most harm.
We glamorize and normalize drinking in this century much the way we glamorized and normalized smoking in the last.
In the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s when smoking was the norm, non-smokers were considered “health freaks”. People smoked in restaurants, on airplanes, and in their cars. There was smoke everywhere. We made clay ashtrays in school for mother’s day and gave heavy crystal ashtrays as wedding gifts. The question, if you were an adult, was not if you smoked but what brand you identified with.
In those years, we knew that smoking caused lung cancer, but people were addicted. Smokers feared life without the “calming effect” of nicotine and chose to hope that cancer “would never happen to them”. People actually questioned if they could enjoy life without cigarettes but gradually over time, with media campaigns and more and more people succumbing to the ravages of cancer, the percentage of people who smoked began to decline.
But quitting smoking was considered to be almost insurmountable by many people. It was the discovery that “secondhand smoke” was dangerous to “innocent non-smoking bystanders” that really began to change the conversation around smoking. At some point, lawsuits were filed by non-smokers against airlines, offices, and restaurants, where they were forced to sit in smoke-filled rooms, and the “non-smoking” section, was born.
Our behavior slowly changed as our culture slowly changed and our culture was changed again more by our behavior. We have always “blamed the addict” for their addiction and pitied people who could not stop. But the non-smoking “victims” of smokers’ addictions helped make the world a place where it was actually easier to quit smoking and enjoy living a life that wasn’t clouded in smoke! Now in the 21st century United States, smoking is an outcast behavior. Businesses no longer allow smoking inside their buildings and some, not even within 6 feet of the front door or on their property.
What about Alcohol? People have been dying from alcohol-related causes and ruining their lives because of booze for as long as memory serves, yet those that choose not to imbibe are the outcasts. How kooky is that? In the 21st Century, alcohol is everywhere and most people will insist that daily drinking is healthy, normal, and needed. If you are sober you are questioned as someone with a problem. Quite the opposite of those who chose not to smoke.
I think there is some cognitive dissonance going on here. People don’t want to quit drinking because they think drinking is what they have to do. Alcohol is what they need to have fun and enjoy leisure time. When they see others enjoying life without booze, it contradicts those beliefs that justify their drinking. It makes them uncomfortable.
So SOBRIETY becomes what people see as the ball and chain, not the need to drink. We learn that the problem is not the normalization of the addictive drug, the problem is “addictive personalities” who can’t control their use.
But where did we learn that we NEED to drink to have fun? To enjoy Life? To Adult? Maybe that message came from exactly the same place that the message about the need to smoke came from. The industry that profits from the sale of it.
I think it started here…
As historians say …
This article helped bring awareness of California wines to the nation. It states that Americans spent close to $2 billion on wine consumption in 1972, twice as much as in 1968. The rate of growth in wine consumption was outpacing that of hard liquor and beer. In 1972, the American adult drank an average of 2.4 gallons of wine; at the same time, French adults consumed 29 gallons, and Italians 30 gallons each.Wine History by Decade: 1970s
And now we’re here…
Beginning in 1994, the US wine business experienced a long trend of increasing consumption and consistently higher price points. The growth and premiumization of wine were driven by the longest economic expansion on record, coincident with the baby-boom generation entering their peak retail spending years. That expansion was then magnified by a series of key findings linking improved health to wine consumption. Twenty-five years later, the US is the largest wine consuming country in the world,State of the Wine Industry Report 2019
Have you ever heard that smoking will help you control your weight? That sales pitch was delivered to our grandmother’s generation.
Selling cigarettes as a weight loss solution for women, appealing to our need to be thin to feel worthwhile, and our belief that thin equals healthy, was very profitable for the tobacco industry. Selling wine to women as something that should be drunk all day and every day, has been a hard sell that has proven very profitable for the wine industry.
A profitable hard sell that is killing us.
From 2000 to 2015, death rates for chronic liver disease and cirrhosis — often associated with alcohol abuse — increased 57 percent for women 45 to 64 years old, and 18 percent for women ages 25-44, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Problem drinking rose by 83 percent among women between 2002 and 2013, according to a study published last year in JAMA Psychiatry, an increase the authors called “alarming.”
Sadly we are now here.
In 2019, about 32% of female high school students consumed alcohol compared with 26% of male high school students. Binge drinking was also more common among female (15%) than male (13%) high school students
Rethink the Drink.
Since the turn of the century, deaths attributed to alcohol have doubled. The smoke-filled world that once made it so hard to quit smoking, has been replaced by a booze-filled world where it is tremendously hard to stop drinking. While drinking is becoming every bit as much a health concern as smoking was 50 years ago, we are hard sold the idea everywhere that alcohol is fun, healthy, essential, and really quite soft. But people continue to drink daily and most assume that those statistics will not be their story. It will not happen to them.
Question the truth of how soft, and healthy, the wine time routine you’ve been sold truly is. There is no better product to sell than one that is addictive. Most of us have no question that we are fighting addiction when we quit smoking. When we try to cut back on our drinking or stop drinking altogether, we’re fighting the same type of addiction.
You have been sold the “normality” and seeming “healthiness” of this …
But the “health benefits” of daily drinking are actually the biggest lie we’ve been sold since this…
More reading :
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“I think I have a problem with drinking”