This post was suggested by a drinker, which I thought was pretty funny. He goes back and forth on it, though, so maybe he's on the fence and I can help push him to one side (hopefully my side).
I don't drink. I've had five sips total in my life, three of them accidental. I'll admit that this does give me a certain lack of perspective. I have no idea what it's like to drink, but I'm happy to concede the point that it's probably a whole lot of fun.
Most people drink because... most other people drink. It's a rite of passage in our society, is universally seen as cool (probably because it's in the best interest of beer company execs for it to be seen as cool), so most people don't think all that much about it.
Due to my stubbornness and general disinterest in doing anything the way society wants me to do it, I never wanted to drink. I was never tempted and it never seemed cool to me. Most of my friends didn't drink in high school (and many didn't in college). Even now only a minority of my friends drink, and I can't think of any who drink regularly.
Several of my friends used to drink, and they all sort of laugh at how ridiculous it was. As in, "Yeah, that's hilarious that I used to think that drinking was worthwhile".
One of my friends who quit drinking asked me if I felt like people who had never been drinkers and were our age seemed sharper than those who did drink. I'd never thought about it before, I don't know if it's causation or correlation, but I realized he was right.
The benefits of moderate drinking appear to be overrated if they exist at all. I don't really put much stock in the studies on either side of the issue, but I think it's pretty clear that it's not the elixir of life certain people might wish it to be.
Heavy drinking is unambiguously bad. We all know it. It's bad for health, it's very bad for relationships, it's bad financially, it's bad for sleep, and it's basically bad for everything else. It is a social lubricant, but that seems to be true only for very light drinking, or in cases where both people are drinking equally.
The problem is that moderate drinking, which may not be that bad, but probably isn't actually good, often leads to heavy drinking. Somewhere around 6% of Americans are alcoholics. That is a huge percentage of people. Twenty-seven percent binge drank last month. That's an even huger percentage.
When you drink, you open the door to really negative outcomes. Far worse outcomes than pot, lsd, mushrooms, or maybe even MDMA. I don't think any of those drugs are great, but I'd say they're all better than alcohol. And yet everyone drinks alcohol because it's okay to do it.
Alcohol tends to be used for specific purposes, and those purposes could all be amalgamated into a general umbrella of "not facing reality". Whether it's in dating, work, self improvement, or even travel, I believe that facing reality and dealing with it head on is important. Alcohol is an easy and cheap way to avoid doing so.
Depressed about something? Why fix it when you can drink? Nervous? Why learn social skills when you can drink? Stressed out? Why manage stress when you can drink? Lonely? Why make friends when you can drink?
I get that there are connoiseurs who appreciate the subtleties of fine wines and liquors in the same way I appreciate tea. I think that's interesting and probably a pretty cool hobby. But it comes with a wide open door towards excessive drinking and alcoholism. That's way too big of a price to pay, at least in my opinion.
I'm sure that a glass of wine with a friend or loved one can be a really great experience. But so can a bar of 99% chocolate, water, or a walk. Like any activity, the company is more important than the activity.
I don't have much hope that our society will become less interested in drinking. It's been entrenched in our culture for too long, it's addictive, and we encourage our children to do it once they turn the arbitrary age of 21. But maybe I can convince a couple people to try life without alcohol, or make some people who drink rethink the pros and cons.
Photo is from a tea tasting at my favorite place in Shanghai. Tea is basically the opposite of alcohol because it's almost impossible to find bad things about drinking it.
I drank when I was a kid because all my friends did and it was the grownup thing to do. I kicked it up a few notches when I served in the military. Later I began drinking everyday and had to drink more to get the same effect. I've drove while drunk, been suspended from work for being intoxicated, and disrupted my family. Knowing I needed to quit, I tried 12 step programs for years and went to rehab a couple times. Finally I gave up on trying to quit and figured I would stay drunk as much as best as I could. One day, while walking to the liquor store, I thought to myself that I don't need to do this anymore. I believed that I could have a better life and accomplish more without the booze. Instead of going to the liquor store, I went to a vegan restaurant and ate a healthy meal. Since that day a few years ago, I have had no desire to drink alcohol. I have restored family relationships, have a new focus in life, and received performance awards for my work. Drinking alcohol is a bad idea.
I'm in big disagreement with this, but it's because I'm a beer nerd. It's a big passion for me. I make my own beer, I judge brewing competitions, and drinking local beer and going to local breweries is one of my favorite things to do while travelling. The idea of giving that up doesn't sound enjoyable to me at all. Yeah there are nights where I end up drinking too much and getting drunk, but it's rare and not really the end of the world. Avoiding drinking too much can be pretty trivial if you pay attention to yourself. But at the same time, if you're not into it, why do it? I'm not terribly interested in wine or whiskey culture, so I don't drink them. I've gone months without drinking and there are advantages to that, but I definitely felt like I was missing out on something I enjoyed.
When I turned 21, I deliberately got drunk to see what it was like. It was horrible. to this day, I have no idea why anybody would do that on purpose.
I have been less strict with my alcohol consumption in the past. I have had long periods (1 year), where I didn't drink at all and then I slipped at some point. My personal compromise is that I don't drink hard alcohol and stick to a few beers on special occasions. I think drinking alcohol is mainly intellectual laziness. It's the default choice in the most Western country and you have to make a conscious decision against it. You have to
Your article focuses on alcohol consumption as a quick fix for deeper rooting problems and the negative health effects of it. Both points are important, but I want to add the loss of productivity linked to alcohol consumption. I think that's an often overlooked factor and that's why I wrote an article about the negative impact on productivity recently. That's especially important for entrepreneurs, who also work on the weekends. I simply can't afford to lose a whole day due to a hangover, which It also killing my momentum. I realized that I have zero creative energy when I am hungover, so I stick to low-level shit like writing emails. Another reason to cut down alcohol consumption.
I also genuinely believe drinking to be a bad idea. I drank from time to time during my high school and Uni days (mostly with friends) but looking back, I don't see what I gained. I find that it makes me more likely to make bad decisions and the rewards are practically non existent.
I decided to stop drinking around March this year, and I haven't tasted alcohol ever since. I don't think I'm missing out on anything.
Somewhat facetiously, I think tea *can* come with bad things. I have a pu er drinking habit, and it gives me stomach trouble sometimes.
How many of us that are Europeans find this amusing ( no, I'm not talking about the harmful side of alcohol abuse but comparing it to choclate or LSD?!)? Btw, I hardly drink but do enjoy a ( not more than 2!)cup of vino or whiskey at the weekend.
"Due to my stubbornness and general disinterest in doing anything the way society wants me to do it, I never wanted to drink."
I drink due to same exact reason. As drinking is forbidden in my religion, so most people don't drink. I have no problem with religious folks but I hate it when they start imposing their views on others and especially me.
The problem is when you meet someone new in my culture, they act very open-minded and enlightened. But as you hangout with them, you slowly realize they are not really who they claim to be.
So my ultimate test is whenever they are at my home, I will offer them a choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. If they are not really open-minded they will be offended and probably never hangout again.
If they refuse alcoholic drink but don't take offense to I drinking, then they are usually okay.
Also another way to tell if someone from my culture is hypocrite is to see if man wears shorts and t-shirt while wife is always wearing jeans and long-sleeves shirts. Sometimes, it is woman's choice but many times they are forced to wear uncomfortable clothes in the heat.
"The benefits of moderate drinking appear to be overrated if they exist at all." They don't. At least not physically and medically. Study after study has shown any amount of drinking increases any number of diseases including cancer. Not to mention any amount of alcohol kills brain cells. Also all those tales about a little red wine, etc etc. Not a single one has ever been backed up by research. It is literally and definitively an old wives tale. That being said there CAN be mental benfits. Stress relief (but personally I find drinking is more likely to lead me to depression) and for a lot of people drinking goes along with social interaction which is important, at least to me it is. No you don't have to drink to to socialize, but sometimes its an excuse to socialize.
I agree with this 100%, though I do have the occasional drink. And when I say occasional, it’s usually 2-3 sips of someone else’s drink maybe 2x a month. I’m also blessed by just not liking how alcohol tastes.
I have friends who were alcoholics. I say were because they have either died or stopped drinking all together.
In essence, as you said, drinking is for avoidance (stress, responsibility, proper grieving) or to dull the mind enough so that you’ll have the so-called “courage” (aka stupidity) to do something dumb, something your sober brain will tell you is a bad idea.
Tynan, I don't agree on this at all. While excessive drinking is certainly harmful, I believe drinking in particular situations can make parties more fun, situations less awkward, and anxiety temporarily dulled. While drinking is by no means a sustainable answer to anxiety, I find it immensely helpful for proving that I can do things. And in a undoubtedly faster way than trying slow exposure. It sounds like you're personality isnt well suited for alcohol. I don't think your statements can be extended to the general population. A glass of wine with a friend is certainly not the same for me as chocolate or tea. And I dont think there's any chemical way to change that.
Recently a comment was posted where someone asked why I don't drink. I do seem to mention it in a number of posts, mostly those where I'm complaining how hard it is to find a girl who also doesn't drink, but I suppose I've never explained why. I also don't do drugs, smoke, or take medicine.
I've never had a drink in my life. I went to a private school in Andover, Massachusetts for middle school and I don't think anyone there drank. Maybe they did and I was blissfully ignorant. I remember one kid got caught for smoking and it was a huge controversy.
After middle school my family moved to Austin, Texas and I went to a public high school. My first day there I got lost and happened to have wandered behind the building. to my surprise there was a huge mass of kids smoking cigarettes and pot. One such kid, a Junior, picked me up and put me in a trash can.
I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.