Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolution of Alcohol

I decided to research the history of alcohol...why? (you might ask) Why would I want to spend time reading over something I am abstaining from? As if it is some cruel punishment or test? Well...a wise man once told me that knowledge is power. And after retiring from drinking and seeing the affects it has on our youth, I hope to have some public health impact on drinking based on insight from my own experiences and knowledge. I don't believe that I can be a true advocate and truly make a difference without being aware of the history. Anyways...what I found was that alcohol has been around for as long as history has record of humans cooking, eating, and developing culture (I am talking B.C.). I really wish there was a record of the first drunkard experience and how people reacted to the feeling,etc. But anyways...all of the earlier cultures used alcohol for mainly religious purposes (ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.)...and then it evolved into being a celebratory drink. However, all most cultures welcomed drinking but frowned upon being drunk and considered it a sin (wise...). Then once people were consuming it in mass quantities and being belligerent, came prohibition, and yada yada yada. Ever since prohibition it has been viewed differently...with laws saying you cannot have it until you are 21 years old, it becomes stigmatized to be "wrong"...and it is rebellious to drink it underage. And there lies the problem. Once it becomes wrong and illegal the act of drinking as fast as possible to get rid of the evidence becomes habit...and through that developed binge drinking. Okay let me stop-- Binge drinking is multifaceted...people drink for depression, genetics, poverty, escaping reality, the list goes on and on. But I believe that one notion is the change from drinking as a cultural, ceremonial, celebratory, daily occurrence...to wildly binge drinking because it is wrong and you're a bad ass. There are a number of people I know that do not have issues with binge drinking because they grew up with drinking and were taught how to drink and how to appreciate alcohol throughout their lifetime. I truly believe this is a positive thing and should be reintroduced to parenting. In high school I got alcohol poisoning because I chugged vodka and whiskey...having no idea about either, other than "Say no to Drugs", left me with no guidance as to know when to stop. Maybe this scenario would have been different had I know what vodka and whiskey were and how to drink safely.

I also think that children are taught that alcohol is gross and is an adult taste....as opposed to being taught that different types of alcohol are enjoyable (wine, beers, etc) and can be paired with different food items and enjoyed on different occasions. So..if you are taught that something is gross, you will not be shocked when it is gross, and you will tough through it to get to that goal result. Therefore, if children are taught that alcohol is disgusting, when they chug straight vodka for the first time they will think that the taste is normal and they need to continue drinking like adults do to get "drunk". However, if children are taught the differences between alcohol beverages and how to enjoy them, they will hopefully be turned off by straight vodka. Obviously kids will still get drunk and do what they parents tell them not to do and so forth, BUT I do think that maybe a little knowledge and experience could be beneficial. Throwing a child into adult scenarios (college) and saying "if you are going to drink, only have 3 drinks" is not helpful at all.

I will stop my rambling...but I think the cultural advancement of alcohol in our society is unfortunate. But, any sort of change in the social culture of drinking (much like obesity) is going to take decades to change if ever. If nothing else, maybe we can help our kids to be healthier and make better decisions and not continue with the norm of blacking out every night.


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