For as long as there has been ‘a major socio-cultural society’; humans have engaged in practices that alter their psychological state. There are numerous reason why people wish to over-indulge, change their mental and emotional status.
It is not hard to imagine the rationale for the very first alcohol-induced experience–it arose from curiosity.
Perhaps one of our ancestors ate some fermenting fruit and felt a pleasant sensation that piqued his curiosity. Curiosity is still a major reason for alcohol consumption today. We are bombarded with messages promoting alcohol use, and we are curious to find out just what it feels like to consume alcohol.
Another reason for alcohol consumption is stress reduction. We live in what many people consider to be the most stressful time of human existence. Alcohol is seen as a way to alleviate a lot of our stress. Self-medication for other problems carries over to many health and mental problems, for example depression and bowl obstructions
Alcohol can ease physical and emotional pain. If the person who consumes alcohol is also using medications for pain relief, the effects of alcohol can be intensified.
Alcohol is often served at social gatherings and is a normal part of the setting at places such as pubs, taverns and hotels, where people go to congregate with others.
Many believe that alcohol instills a sense of social confidence and promotes relaxation in the company of others. This occurs because of alcohol’s disinheriting effects. There is no doubt that loneliness can serve as an incentive for alcohol use and abuse. Isolation can be another reason to use alcohol. People who have poor support networks, decreased mobility, and limited access to transportation may turn to alcohol.
It is not just older people who have problems with alcohol. Young people aged 14-29 may often binge drink and young people aged 18 to 24 have more problems with alcohol than any other age group.
Some of the problems caused by heaving drinking are: Relationship problems with family and friends, money and legal problems, feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety; unplanned and unwanted sex, sexual problems; problems with memory and thinking straight; sleep depravation; and for women who are pregnant damage to their unborn baby.
There many tell-tale signs of problem drinking, do any of these problems sound familiar?
You sometimes miss school or work due to a hangover. You drink in situations when you know it is dangerous (for example driving while drunk). You get into a fight or ‘create scenes’ while you are dunk. You keep on drinking despite problems caused or made worse by alcohol. You need more alcohol to get drunk?
You experience withdrawal symptoms when you have taken a break alcohol (i.e: shaking, sweating, feeling sick, or disturbed sleeping, muscle spasms). You drink to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms, you are not able to stop or cut down on your drinking. You spend more and more time and effort on drinking and recovering from its effects?
People enjoy the psychoactive effects of alcohol for various reasons. It provides a sense of relief and disassociation from reality. A sense of adventure or perhaps a spiritual search is often given as the causative reason for alcohol consumption.
I wonder where we would be without the “You can get it when…” VB ads, the traditional Australian image of the ‘Footy Trip’; the backyard BBQ, if you think about it nearly all the things, that come to mind when you sum up the view of the modern-day Australian culture, alcohol is always there. So what does that mean for us as a society?
Even today, subconsciously or not, the popular view for young people, who are a bit of a misfit, or isolated or just feeling lonely; drinking means that somehow belong to the pack. Is it that pack mentality for young people today that makes drinking such a lethal cocktail, when mixed with mental illness, depression, isolation and the feelings of just not fitting-in.
I am not writing this article today to preach or to advocate prohibition or my strident curfews, my job is just to write about what I see from my own eyes, bleary or not. Hopefully I will be able to give you another report, spiel on this very big issue in my next article. Thank you for reading.
Drinking Decisions, Young People and Drinking: Aust. Govt. report 2004.