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Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking Alcohol

Author: Kevin Olsen

Last Updated: 9/21/2022

Alcoholism is an addiction to the consumption of alcohol. Many factors cause someone to develop alcoholism. Some of these factors are the social or cultural aspects that come with drinking alcohol. Some of the social factors involved with drinking alcohol are peer pressure, having parents who drink or are alcoholics, idleness, and media pressure. 

Alcohol has been a part of various cultures ever since 7000 B.C.E. Drinking alcohol takes place in religious cultures, everyday culture, television and movies, and it’s also present in youth culture. This leads many teens down a path that leads to alcoholism. 

There are also many cultural aspects of drinking that vary by country. In the United States, and many other countries, many people will have multiple drinks during a sporting event. It is also common in many countries to “grab a beer” after work to destress. All of these social and cultural aspects can lead to a life of fighting alcoholism.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is the addiction to the consumption of alcohol. There are many ways to become addicted to something. Addiction can be hereditary, so if you have parents who are alcoholics it makes you prone to it as well. You could enjoy the taste and just keep drinking more and more. It could also be due to social factors. All of your coworkers go out after work or all of your friends go out every other day for the game on TV and you don’t want to miss out. So, you tag along and next thing you know you can’t stop going. It only takes 3-4 drinks per day for a man, and 2-3 drinks per day for a woman, to develop alcoholism. 

What is the Origin of Alcoholism?

The definition of alcoholism comes from the overuse or abuse of the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholism dates back to the origins of alcohol itself. The first recorded signs of potential alcoholism were in China around 7000 B.C. There are also saved texts from Ancient Greece that speak about the danger of alcohol abuse. 

Alcoholism is all around the world as well. While it has been in Asia and Greece for thousands of years, it has also been in the United States since its formation as a country in 1776. This is why in the early 1900’s alcohol-related bans (prohibition was happening). Before this, it had gotten so bad that many doctors were writing prescriptions for whiskey as a pain medication. 

The main difference in alcoholism around the world is how alcohol is consumed. Some countries allow young children to drink at each meal, other countries have big parties with lots of alcohol. It varies based on the country and its people’s beliefs. 

The other big difference could be in the level of care for those suffering. If the treatment centers are better in one country compared to another. While there may be different ways people become addicted or different drinks people use to become addicted, the suffering of alcoholism is the same no matter where you are.

What are the Social Factors of Alcoholism?

There are many different social factors involved with drinking alcohol and alcoholism. Some social factors are; peer pressure, having parents who drink or are alcoholics, idleness or needing to find something to fill your time.

Peer pressure starts young and has a negative effect on many things. As a teen, friends will peer pressure their friends to have a drink or steal a bottle from their parent’s liquor cabinet. Peer pressure also exists in the adult world but in different ways. For example, someone will offer to purchase shots at a bar or encourage someone to drink more alcohol.

Having family members who are alcoholics also makes it difficult. It’s far worse if it’s a parent or guardian. Growing up seeing your parents heavily drinking every day leads you to believe that it’s normal behavior and causes people to start drinking young. While having alcoholic family members makes it difficult it is important to remember that just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you need to do it too.

The last social aspect to consider is media pressure. Media pressure is similar to peer pressure but it’s from media like movies. Many TV shows such as How I Met Your Mother, and Cheers have their characters heavily drinking in almost every episode. Other shows like George Lopez have their characters go to the bar after work every day, showing their audience it is normal to do that as well. While there is nothing wrong with doing this every once in a while, doing so every day can lead to a life of alcoholism. With sports, all sports have alcohol that sponsors them such as Modelo Beer for the UFC.

What is the Cultural and Social History of Alcohol?

In the beginning, alcohol was used for rituals and ceremonies. Ancient Egyptians said that beer was the drink of the gods and to drink it brought you closer to them. In Greece, they used alcohol for nutritional and medicinal purposes.

Today, drinking alcohol is a social event. While it’s useful for celebrations, it’s mostly used for social activity and most people feel a need to include alcohol in their events. When people get together for a sporting event they assume they need to include drinks. Also, if friends go out to dinner people feel the need to order a drink. 

This is also where those social factors come in. If one person orders a drink it’s  likely the others will do so too. Alcohol has undergone many changes in its social history, from nutritional and medicinal to banning it entirely and then teenage binge drinking.

Unfortunately, the statistics about alcoholism show that more young people drink today than in the past. Those same statistics show that older people drink more now than in the past as well. That means that today more people, regardless of age, drink more than they ever have in the past and this number is only increasing.

What are the Alcohol History Facts?

There are many facts about the history of alcohol consumption. One such fact is that as early as 2700 B.C.E. Babylonians worshiped a Goddess of Wine. They would pray to her and drink for her in hopes that she would bless them and their families. There are also records of Native American tribes creating alcoholic beverages using corn mixed with grapes or apples and they called it Chicha. 

The history of alcohol shows that the levels of consumption were on the rise until the early 1900s when in 1920 there was a U.S. law passed banning alcoholic beverages. Countries around the world changed their stance on alcohol and if people should be able to drink it.

In the 100 years since prohibition, people have once again loosened up to the idea of drinking and the levels of alcohol consumption are again on the rise. Today, there are an estimated 15 million people in the United States alone who suffer from alcoholism and 40% of all car accident deaths in the United States are alcohol-related.

Why is Alcohol So Popular?

In young people, drinking is popular because when you’re under 21 and it is illegal it is seen as a “cool” thing to drink. People will have parties and take their parent’s liquor or have their older siblings buy beer and have all the teenagers over because they think if they host a party with alcohol it will make them cooler. On the other hand, if you choose to not drink it is seen as “lame” and you may lose friends over it.

For the middle-aged group, it’s popular because in today’s time we have been told that if you had a stressful work day you should go drink it off with the guys at the bar. Many events are like this. One such event is painting. Almost all paint events will now include a glass of wine. Even some nail and hair salons include a drink with your pedicure. Drinking is in almost everything that is done. Another thing that causes middle-aged people to drink more is finances. At this point in your life, you most likely have a house, multiple cars, and maybe multiple kids about to go to college and you need some way to pay for all of this. So you work harder or get another job. All of this stress makes you feel like you need to drink alcohol.

For the older group, one of the biggest reasons older people drink today is because of loneliness. As you get older your kids move out and sometimes far away, you have been divorced or your spouse may pass and you can find yourself living all alone. This leads to you drinking more. 

Why Do People Drink?

There are many reasons people drink alcohol. One reason is to fit in. If you go out to eat or watch a game or go to a party and you’re the only one not drinking people may judge. Many people will choose to drink even if they don’t want to just to avoid this. 

Another reason people drink is a celebration. Birthday parties, New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and graduations. What do all of these events have in common? They all will have some sort of alcohol at their event. Lastly, another reason people drink alcohol is sadness. People who suffer from loss or grief or depression may turn to alcohol thinking it will help people they will get drunk and forget. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen and alcohol is a depressant as well.

What are the Types of Drunk?

The three main types of being drunk, or the stages of being drunk are to be buzzed, to be drunk, and finally to blackout. When you are buzzed it’s typically defined as feeling like the edge was taken off. You are still in control but you will have slightly late reflexes and reactions. 

Then, you become drunk. You may not remember the entire event because when you are drunk you are not in full control anymore. Lastly, you black out. This is when you over-drink so much that you remember nothing and have absolutely no control of anything. This is very dangerous and if you are not with people you trust it can lead to other issues.

How Does Alcohol Affect Society?

The main way alcohol affects society is what happens when someone is drinking. When you consume alcohol you lose inhibition and you may act in ways you would not normally. When many people are acting out in this way in public it changes how society views alcohol. 

Also, when there are crimes committed such as vehicular manslaughter, murder, or rape, and alcohol is involved, that will also change how society views drinking. Alcohol has also been shown to influence crimes like homicide, so alcohol has a negative affect on society.

One other way alcohol affects society is in the aftermath. If you live near a big city, walk around the day after a big party night and it will be messier and dirtier and smellier than usual. This won’t be cleaned up right away usually either and all those who see it will have their opinions changed about alcohol use as well.

What are the Social Causes of Alcoholism?

Some social causes of alcoholism are peer pressure, being surrounded by alcohol and alcohol drinkers, and many others as well. Peer pressure can be very persuasive especially if it is done by someone close to you like a family member or close friend. If you are living with people who drink it’s harder to turn it down. These are two of the biggest social causes of alcoholism. 

Another one is the way alcohol has been forced into our everyday life. There are commercial drink menus on tables at restaurants, and it is in most TV shows as well. Having alcohol put so heavily in your daily life can make you think it should be more in your life.

What are the Social Effects of Alcohol Use?

Some of the social effects of alcohol use can be the loss of family members or friends, or even more serious jail time or death. Some people who are very close to you may not be able to watch you destroy yourself with alcohol and if they have tried and failed to help you they may need to cut you out to better themselves. 

Alcohol use also leads to jail time if you drink and drive, or do something even worse. This and alcohol poisoning are how it can also lead to death. There are many other social effects as well including many for those in college alone. 1 in 4 college students says that they believe alcohol use has lowered their grades. 

There are also over 700,000 students being assaulted every year and 100,000 of those are sexual assault. That is just alcohol use and its social effects on college students, imagine the whole world.

What are the Social Problems of Alcohol?

There are many problems that alcohol use brings to society. There are already so many car accidents in the world and so many deaths in these accidents. In the U.S. alone 40% of those deaths are alcohol-related. Alcohol not only brings grief and sadness in these situations but feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

Another social problem is that you don’t know how someone will act once they have been drinking. If you say or do something they don’t like they could assault you or much worse. 

One last social problem from alcohol is addiction. Some people do not realize how easy it is to become addicted to something and it is much much harder to quit. Alcohol addiction is on the rise in all age groups and it will only continue to rise and that will also increase these other social problems it brings.

What is Social Drinking?

Social drinking can be defined as drinking with other people when there is no specific occasion. If you have some friends over and decide to each have a beer or glass of wine and talk or watch a game or TV show. Once you begin to heavily drink it is not social drinking anymore. Social drinking also does not include getting drunk or blacking out. For most people, social drinking is watching a sports game with a beer or watching The Bachelorette with a glass of wine.

What is the Alcohol Policy?

There are about 15 countries where at least some of those countries have laws against alcohol consumption. Some of these countries include Bangladesh, Iran, some of India, and yes even some counties in the United States. In other countries, there are laws about consuming alcohol or buying alcohol below a certain age. The lowest age in these laws is 16. Some countries that have 16 as the drinking age are Italy, Cuba, and Serbia. 

Most countries in the world have the limit set to 18 years old. Some of these countries include Russia, Australia, and China. For North America, the 3 countries here all have different drinking ages. Mexico is set to 18, Canada is 19, and the USA is at 21. There are some sections of some countries that even have the drinking age as high as 25 or even 30 years old such as some areas of India.

What are the Alcohol-related Problems?

Alcohol can lead to many health risks such as liver disease and cancer. Drinking alcohol also damages your nervous system and your gastrointestinal tract. Alcohol also lowers your libido and affects sexual performance. 

Drinking alcohol will also lead to various psychiatric conditions as well. Aside from medically alcohol-related problems can also include damaged relationships in your life, loss of work, or impaired function of your work. Many problems will arise from alcohol use with these being only a few of them.

What Cultures Don’t Drink Alcohol?

Many countries have alcohol banned from being able to buy, sell or consume it. There is one culture where this is the law regardless of where you are. The Muslim community. Muslims do not consume alcohol and they have many reasons for this. Some of the reasons are that it affects your mental capacity, it is considered an intoxicant, it damages your relationship with God, it creates health problems and they also consider drinking alcohol to be highly immoral.

What are Normal Drinking Habits?

The “normal” amount someone should drink will vary based on who you ask and the height and weight of that person. However, generally speaking for men the “normal” amount to drink is no more than 4 drinks in 1 night and no more than 14 drinks in 1 week. 

For women, it drops to 2 drinks per night and no more than 7 drinks in a week. This is because generally speaking most men are taller and weigh more than most women do. If you are curious what the amount you should be drinking is you can always contact a specialist or healthcare provider for more information.

Is alcohol in Every Culture?

No, alcohol is not in every culture. The Muslim community doe snot allows the consumption of alcohol at all. Also in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it’s illegal and if you’re caught drinking in public or while driving there are fines and jail time. In fact, Kuwait will deport foreigners who are caught drinking in public.

Why is Drinking More Prevalent in Irish culture?

The main reason drinking is more prevalent in Irish culture is because as a society they have set their “standard for alcohol use” higher over the years. Also, in Irish society people began to drink more and more as the years went on. More specifically it can be narrowed down to parental and sibling drinking. Watching your parents and siblings drink causes you to drink more. Other than watching you drink more, continuing the cycle.

What is the British Drinking Culture?

The culture of drinking in Britain has always been known to be one of heavy social drinking. Britain has many pubs across their country and the people who live there also know that it is part of their culture to enjoy good drinks with good friends on an almost daily basis. People in London drink beer in large glasses like pint glasses.

What is the Italian Drinking Culture?

Italian drinking culture is much different than that of Britain. It is all about the food and how that alcohol can help to enhance their food. That is why they have such a low drinking age of 16 because they view drinking very differently. In Italy, wine is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks.

What is the Australian Drinking Culture?

Much like in Britain, drinking is a massive part of the culture in Australia. Alcohol is entrenched in many parts of Australians’ lives and in the past it was more than just getting drunk. In recent years, Australians have turned their drinking culture into one of sophistication. They drink for the taste and the social aspect it brings.

What is the UK Drinking Culture?

While the drinking culture in Britain is very heavy, it is quite different in the rest of the U.K. Since 2016, the number of people who do not drink alcohol at all has risen. Back in 2016, a poll showed that 21% of people aged 16 and over did not drink at all across the United Kingdom, which is just about 10.6 million people. These numbers have continued to rise and even show the greatest number of nondrinkers are in the younger (16 to 24) category and the older (75+) category.

How is Alcoholism in Europe and America?

Alcoholism in America versus Europe is different. The similarities are how it affects people because alcoholism is the same whether you are in America, Italy or Spain. Still, that’s where the similarities end because drinking culture in the United States and Europe are different.

In 2018, it was reported that about 6% of adults over the age of 18 had an alcohol use disorder. That same year about 26% of adults reported that they had been binge drinking in the last 30 days. The United States drinking age is 21, whereas Italy has one of the lowest drinking ages in the world at 16. Between the years 2006 and 2016, the number of alcohol users in Italy went down by 8%, and that same year in 2016 they reported about 16% of people had engaged in binge drinking. 10% less than that of America. 

Spain is another country with a lower drinking age than America. In Spain, they have reported that less than 2% of their population drinks heavily. The most likely explanation for these numbers could be that in America alcohol is a more forbidden substance. The drinking age is higher at 21, and underage drinking is more punished, but in Europe, it is much more accepted, including among minors. 

Europe also has very loose laws for underage drinking and in most countries they don’t enforce those laws anyway. In America, the laws are strict. 19% of youths aged 12-20 engaged in the consumption of alcohol. In Europe, 70% of the countries had a higher percentage of underage drinking even though most countries have a drinking age of 18 and some even have a drinking age of 16.