Have you ever noticed the apparent disconnect that many people tend to have with regards to alcohol being a drug? Countless times, I’ve heard people who I know slam back some cocktails on a fairly regular basis say in conversation, in a somewhat judgmental tone, something along the lines of, ‘this is exactly why I don’t do drugs.’ As if they are somehow superior to those who smoke marijuana or use other recreational or psychedelic drugs from time to time. Or how about that person with the crazy caffeine addiction with the same response? Don’t even get me started. While traveling and staying in many different hostels there are often signs that say in bold, NO DRUGS ALLOWED, yet there is a bar and a fridge full of beer.
I believe that this disconnect is the cause for justifying our alcohol usage and often, our alcohol abuse. Because people generally don’t really think of alcohol when they think of drugs, it perpetuates this idea that unless you are a serious alcoholic, alcohol is relatively harmless. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Alcohol Is 100% A Drug & A Harmful One At That
A drug is classified as any substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced to the body. Ding, ding, ding – there you have it, alcohol IS a drug. Perhaps the reason we tend to not think of alcohol as a drug is because of how the media tends to portray it. The media certainly wouldn’t want us to think of alcohol as a drug because drugs are bad, and if we did we may be more inclined to change our relationship with it and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?
Another possibility is because alcohol is legal, and often promoted, pushed and expected in our society. Because we want to believe that our governments and policy makers have our best interests in mind, we might think, well, it can’t be that bad if it’s legal. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous way to think as this type of thing goes way beyond our governments and is more so in the hands of large corporations who have the money to keep the truth hidden, and ultimately to keep us consuming things that are toxic to our health, like alcohol.
The Media’s Role
In the media, for example, you rarely see a TV show or a movie where the characters aren’t regularly consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and both these characters and those in alcohol advertisements are portrayed, to varying degrees, as sexy, cool, spontaneous, and fun. In fact, an estimated $8 billion in advertising was spent on alcohol promotion between 2002-2009. While knowledge of alcohol’s dangers is nowhere near as common as that of, say, smoking, it still begs the question, why is it kept in the dark? A lot of information is coming forward these days about how sugar is the tobacco of the 21st century and so on, but it seems the truth about alcohol’s dangers are largely being ignored.
So, Why Are We Lying To Ourselves?
Like any other substance, sugar, coffee, marijuana, potato chips, T.V., and video games – alcohol is an escape. Before I decided to quit drinking, I remember thinking that maybe I could learn to cut back or control my addiction, but that there was absolutely no way that I could quit for good, and the idea of not having some sort of relief from the way I had been feeling totally freaked me out. But after getting to the root of what was causing me to drink in the first place, it was easy to leave this behind, because I had faced myself, I didn’t have something that I needed to escape from anymore. Of course, I’m not perfect, I still do escape with other things from time to time, but alcohol was a problem for me.
Maybe alcohol isn’t a problem for you, or maybe you don’t realize how much of a problem it is, but regardless we have to accept that this substance is a drug. With most other things, moderate use is okay and likely won’t do too much harm, but binge-drinking on the weekends and having multiple glasses of wine a day is definitely not moderate use and is definitely pushing the lines of a drug addiction. We have to be honest with ourselves and if we feel that we need alcohol to have fun, to feel good or to manage stress then it’s clear that there are aspects of our lives that need to be looked at, accepted and addressed. Escaping with any substance is just a temporary feeling of relief and often, if left un-dealt with, our issues will only get worse.