How did we normalise abnormal drinking?

It is the mythology around drinking that does the most damage. The consistent brain washing message that drinking is harmless, just a bit of fun. That it’s only a ‘small minority’ that have a problem.*

It is this blatant lie that irks me.

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There has always been a history of inebriation in western culture.
But now we have created a culture that has utterly normalised abnormal drinking, to the point that when challenged, perpetuators of this myth feel genuinely aggrieved.
They sincerely believe their relationship with alcohol is normal.
Normal only because the wider culture reflects it back.

What are the mechanisms that have enabled us to ‘normalise’ abnormal drinking, as this is what essentially has happened?

By normalising our abnormal drinking behaviour, we minimize the dangers and risks, then justify the consumption of it by repackaging it as something else i.e: Fun.

Then everyone feels better, because we are not abusing a central nervous system depressant or taking risks, we are having innocent ‘fun.’

It may not feel like fun when your head is stuck down the toilet all night; it may not look like fun when you topple into the gutter and everyone laughs at you; it may not sound like fun when some drunk slob, whose name you’ve forgotten, is grunting over you.
But rest assured, the message is out there, repeated again and again.
This. Is. Fun.

They’re lying to you.

One of the ways to do this, is by justify your consumption compared to other people.
Find someone who drinks more than you and immediately your own drinking feels ‘normal.’
Binge drinking has been ‘normalised’ by the sheer quantities of people doing it. We all want to belong, be part of the crowd.
Besides, they all look like they are having fun.

On the outside.

It is the dishonesty I am taking issue with here, the lies we are told, not the drinking necessarily. Go ahead and drink till you fall over, till you vomit all night, till you shag someone you met 3 hours earlier. Go ahead and drink everyday, drink with lunch, with supper, with breakfast.
Binge at the weekend, abstain in the week. Drink as you wish but at least have the decency to be honest about what you are doing.
Do not lie to me that this is harmless.
Do not try and spin this another way, because alcohol is a central nervous depressant, and by the sheer volume we are drinking it’s going to be sending moods down rather than up. So i know that can’t be true.
Do not repackage this and tell me we are only having a laugh.
Do not mock the people who enjoy alcohol as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
Do not compare yourselves to them.
It’s is not the drinking that is offensive, it’s the dishonesty.

Our abnormal drinking is destroying what’s good about alcohol.
The right kind of wine with your food, for instance. Or to unwind after a stressful day occasionally. One whisky is normal, not five. To celebrate an achievement, not get so drunk you can’t remember what you achieved or worse, fail to fulfill your potential.
Alcohol can be an aid to having fun, but is not fun of itself.

How have we created this dynamic?
Well, just look at main stream media.
They popularise and perpetuate the myth that alcohol abuse is a harmless past-time. This is not about being some out of touch moralist who is horrified by ‘yoof’ broadcasting; it is about the standards we are setting our young people and the lies we are feeding them.

They deserve better than that.
I deserved better than that.

Hell, I deserved one, just one person who was bright and intelligent and funny talking about what a great night they had SOBER.
But no what I got, what we still get, is some Radio DJ or TV presenter or actor or reality star describe a night out on the ‘lash’ and their ‘monster’ hangover they’ve come to work with describing the ‘mess’ they got up to whilst ‘plastered.’ How ‘fun’ it was and they can’t wait to do it again that night.

Our perception has been skewed so much that we have been hypnotised into believing that alcohol is somehow necessary for fun.
That fun without alcohol is not real fun at all, it’s a ‘lesser’ fun.
Really?

I was so sold on this belief that when I first quit drinking, I sincerely didn’t believe I would ever be able to have fun or be sociable again.
Alcohol = Fun was a fact for me, even when it wasn’t.
When I found out I how wrong I was, I was truly shocked.

When I stopped drinking and my life exploded into Technicolor and was rich, exciting, sponteneous, fulfilling, hillarious and fun.

It was then I realised how much I’d been lied to.

I’d like to know what you think?

*Please see embedded links for the research that backs this up.

4 thoughts on “How did we normalise abnormal drinking?

  1. Mary LA

    Great link and good finding your blog. The role of the media around alcohol consumption is so problematic — but that goes fro eating and lifestyles as well as alcohol.

  2. save. spend. splurge.

    I have always thought this. I never liked drinking nor the taste of alcohol and everyone always felt uncomfortable around me when I politely declined drinks, so I just started making up stories about being allergic just to get them to feel relieved that I couldn’t drink, not that I CHOSE not to drink.

    Life is more fun when you’re sober. I want real conversations with people, not drunken grunts or fake “I LOVE YOU” calls and shouts… you know? That to me is not bonding.

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