Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

What is your opinion on the drinking culture of western society?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) March 12th, 2016
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s mostly unhealthy and getting out of control much like our eating culture.

JLeslie's avatar

The rate of alcoholism says it all. Estimates usually hover around 30% of the population has a used alcohol during sometime in their life in the US. I don’t know how they are specifically defining alcoholism in the studies. Usually, it’s defined by someone who drinks in a way that negatively impacts their life, either a safety hazard, missed work, etc. Also, men have much higher numbers than women.

Too many lushes. Even if someone isn’t an alcoholic, there are too many people dependent on alcohol to have a good time.

Many alcoholics are self medicating, because they have other psychological problems, and all a small scale I think it’s fine; the occasional drink to relax, or get through a hard day; but, as a constant was to medicate it doesn’t work well.

Young people start drinking partly because they want to be “grown up” and the grown ups they see drink. If adults want their kids to not drink, or drink less, then the parents need to be the example. At the same time I think making alcohol taboo until age 21 is ridiculous. I think the law should be 18, and I think within a family letting young people try alcohol shouldn’t be such a big deal. Forbidden fruit can be too tempting.

Some cultures feel drinking every night a glass of wine or beer isn’t really drinking, but I think a big percentage of those people are addicted. If they stopped they would go through at least some form of withdrawal.

jerv's avatar

I think that there are enough people who think anyone who has more than a sip of champagne at New Years is a full-blown alcoholic and enough that think that beer is an acceptable substitute for water that few people will have an opinion that is anywhere near objective.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I don’t think it is a recent phenomenon. You can trace drinking ( as a social construct) back to the Roman empire, and probably the Greeks as well. Friends met with friends and drank, even back then.

Read this: link

To answer your question and quote Shakespeare at the same time – “much ado about nothing”

Yes, too much drink can be problematic, but I don’t think it’s notably worse in 2016 AD than it was in 16 AD.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

That so called drinking culture is part of new dog whistle language for something is bad.

Or not bad enough, for example rape is bad. Who doesn’t know this?

But rapes are still happening. Sombody’s got to DO something about this.

I know! Let’s put the word “culture” after it.

Tell us about your great weed.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t think there is a “drinking culture of Western society”.

Americans are much more pent up and Puritanical about our vices than much of the rest of Western Culture.
I don’t know of a single person that would not be totally scandalized if they knew than an under-aged child had been given wine with a meal at home. That doesn’t seem to be the case in much of Europe.
America is almost alone in the West in enforcing a 21 yo minimum for legal consumption of alcohol. I think our culture discourages treating alcohol as a social beverage and treats it like a “forbidden fruit”.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ Agreed and GA.

My Sicilian wife was given wine with Sunday dinner as a kid.

Also, evidence suggests that from the earliest time in human history tribes considered the availability of brewable grains possibly the most important factor when selecting a home.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro ” don’t know of a single person that would not be totally scandalized if they knew than an under-aged child had been given wine with a meal at home.”

<raises hand> That’s not uncommon here, especially if you consider that what “under-aged” means varies from place to place. The drinking age in my province is 18, but I certainly had wine and other drinks in my home as a younger teen. I don’t have any alcoholics in my family; alcoholic drinks are just another beverage option.

But to answer the question, I also agree with @ibstubro in that we don’t have a “drinking culture” in the West particularly. If there is such a thing, it exists the world over.

Seek's avatar

The human race has been around for between 300,000 and a million years. About 10,000 years ago beer was invented, and since then we’ve built the pyramids and put robots on Mars.

We’re fine.

Zaku's avatar

Depends on where you mean.

tinyfaery's avatar

As a non drinker I’m always surprised how much people drink. Alcohol is everywhere and people drink it any time. I don’t have a problem with it.

ibstubro's avatar

But that’s my point, @dappled_leaves. I’m an American in the Midwest and ” I don’t know of a single person that would not be totally scandalized if they knew than an under-aged child had been given wine with a meal at home.”

The drinking age in the US is 21. The only people that I’ve seen allow their underage kids to drink openly/socially were alcoholics.
Alcohol consumption in the US isn’t learned. It’s thrust upon early adults after they’re past the age of meaningful guidance. Most notoriously during the college years.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro Sure, just… you seem to be putting America up against Europe as covering all of Western culture. My point is that the US can seem exceptionally prudish even within North America. You don’t need to go nearly as far as Europe for a counterexample.

And then, I assume there are also differences in attitude between states within the US.

elbanditoroso's avatar


where does religion come in? At Passover, the Haggadah used in the seder says that all adults should have four cups of wine. In Judaism, you’re considered an adult once you are 13 years old and have had your Bar/Bat Mitzva.

I know that when I was in my teens, I was given wine to drink at the seder. Not a lot, but more than just a couple of drops. Probably several ounces. No one batted an eyelash.

Now you might say – well, religion is different. But why? Wine is wine, alcohol is alcohol, no matter whether you are praying or not. Or is this one of those Laws versus Religious Liberties issues?

Also, I believe you are wrong about the law. You must be 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages. I do not believe that there is a law about consumption. So a parent can buy wine and let their kids drink it.

JLeslie's avatar

We were given wine at the seder too. I usually didn’t drink it. I didn’t care about it. My dad let me try his drink if I was curious. He rarely drank, my mother “never” drank.

I absolutely think there is a drinking culture in America, I can’t speak for the entire western world. Most people have a hard time understanding people who don’t drink. They assume we don’t for religious reasons or because we are recovering alcoholics. Some groups in America seem to care more about drinking than others.

@ibstubro When I read your answer all I could think about were these two hell raising brothers (young boys) who lived on my street when I was a kid. They had strict, VERY strict, Christian parents. As soon as the boys were out of their parents’ sight they did everything they weren’t allowed to do. I saw that in college. Students who were out of their parents sight and drank like fishes. I think in some ways the puritanical thing backfires, especially if the parents don’t follow the rules they give their children. My Mormon friends didn’t need to run wild like my Christian friends who had parents who did drink themselves.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie That’s funny, considering Mormons have the bigger reputation for abstaining from drink. I agree that making it a taboo simply adds to the mystique for teens, and can lead to trouble down the line.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, that was my intended point, too, @dappled_leaves. That the USA can seem exceptionally prudish compared to much of the rest of Western Culture. I didn’t say or intend to imply North America, as I believe Mexico is even less prudish about alcohol that even Canada. Wouldn’t you agree that Canada and Mexico have more of an affinity with European culture than American?

There were about 4 million adherents of Judaism in the U.S. as of 2001, approximately 1.4% of the US population, so I didn’t include that as a significant factor in American attitudes toward alcohol. @elbanditoroso.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro ” Wouldn’t you agree that Canada and Mexico have more of an affinity with European culture than American?”

That’s a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer. Canada is similar to both Europe (which part of Europe? There are many cultures there) and the US, in different ways. I certainly wouldn’t hold up either Mexico or Canada as examples of European cultures.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves I really believe the biggest influence on young people drinking is observing the behavior of their parents and mimicking it. The Mormon parents aren’t drinking.

My husband is Mexican, and when we first started saying he sarcastically said to me that I was, “American and I don’t drink?” His impression was Americans are usually drinkers.

ibstubro's avatar

Is anybody disagreeing with anybody about anything here, @dappled_leaves, @elbanditoroso, @JLeslie?
If so, what?
If I can clarify something specific, let me know, because I don’t disagree with a thing any of you have said, and I getting tired of dancing around the question.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro I think you are seeing argumentativeness where there is actually only conversation. But we can stop anytime you like.

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, I’m just talking too. Expanding on other comments.

ibstubro's avatar

Carry on, by all means.

My original point was that the American US Puritanical streak regarding alcohol (and sex) seems fairly unique in the Western world”

At last, cracks are starting to appear in America’s draconian drinking-age edifice. A movement is developing that would make U.S. law like most other civilized countries in the world.
”...foster a more European-style culture of drinking that promotes responsibility and civilized sobriety. ”

So, I guess I should have said:
“I don’t think there is a “drinking culture of Western society”.
Americans are much more pent up and Puritanical about our vices than much of the rest of European-style culture, and I think that sets us apart.”

elbanditoroso's avatar

@ibstubro – I disagree with your assertion that this is anything new.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro I agree America is puritanical—in public. It’s very two-faced.

Mariah's avatar

We’re ridiculous for holding alcohol and caffeine to different standards than other drugs. I drink now because nothing less dangerous is available to me when I need to get out of my head for a few hours. I can’t wait until marijuana gets legalized in my state. I’ll be so much healthier.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Debatable. MJ is not without consequences but I’d like to see it legalized also.
Caffeine really is nothing like alcohol or MJ unless it’s in a concentrated, pharmaceutical grade form.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It is my honest opinion that if all the alcohol in the US suddenly dried up, the Republican Party would disband within hours.

JLeslie's avatar

^^LMAO. Why? Are you saying the Republicans drink more?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

They often act and think like a bunch of erratic, old drunks. To me, anyway. Kinda like the Old Testament god. They want small government, but they’re into everybody’s shit. Build a wall, make them wetbacks pay for it—that’s bar talk, man. They want to get rid of assistance for the poor, starve education and kill medicare, but they have no problem at all handing over billions in corporate welfare. They deal with the homeless and jobless problem by not dealing with it. They deny obvious scientific evidence of climate change. Denial, denial, denial. Deny it exists and it will go away. They take great joy in humiliation humor. They seem to be happy only at other’s expense. They enjoy bullying their opposition, rather than engaging in rational argument. Rather than give serious thought to issues, they blow it off or make a joke about it. Dick jokes. Fantasy Football. Playing a game inventing their own Secret Service code names. That’s the kind of shit drunks do in bars. That’s classic substance abuse behaviour in my book.

ibstubro's avatar

Hmmm, @Espiritus_Corvus.

40+ years ago Democratic rallies here were basically what a Trump rally would be today if there was an open bar.

In 1976 when Scoop Jackson ran for President, I manned his booth at the Democratic rally. I was 15 and served all the free wine, cheese, and political trinkets visitors could stand. The rally went on so late that some had a hard time making it to the free Bloody Mary breakfast in the morning.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@JLeslie & @ibstubro: Yeah, yeah, I know. I was partially joking. But take a look at these guys. Sheeesh. Take a look at them as one body. Then take a look at the Dems. It’s not much better. You can either laugh at this, or philosophize. I’m not much of a philosopher, so I have to I have to laugh. But it’s a dark laughter.

ibstubro's avatar

Well, if you were thinking of John Boehner when you first posted, @Espiritus_Corvus, it’s understandable.

Smokin & drinkin.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

So, that’s why he was always crying. Makes sense.

I think the worst thing we can all do is lose our sense of humor during this very strange period. If we do, we risk getting really nasty like other sites, even Quora. We aren’t at as high a risk of this as others, but we’ve all seen flame wars here. Other than vote and donate time to a candidate there’s not a helluva a lot we can do, so in our off-hours, I hope we can just see the theater in all this.

Quora has come up with a safe word for when to old friends from opposite sides of the fence start to go at it. I think “Gail” would be an appropriate safe word for us. Her name brings to mind a level of intelligence, good behaviour and class not often found on the internet today.

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