The Trouble with our view of Alcohol

 As a society we have a hard time with Alcohol.

Many of our social event revolve around Alcohol. Christmas parties, baby showers and weddings. Alcohol and drinking are often the cornerstone to many of the big touchstone events of our lives.  Seeing people way over the limit is normal.   We make jokes about the behavior of those who are severely intoxicated.  It is ingrained in our culture, often leaving those who stay sober out.

I do not drink much. There are too many bad memories. I do occasionally enjoy a good milk stout with a meal. I like stopping by a craft brewery and having a drink with friends. For me it is about the company. I like a good tasting beer and the conversation usually stay sober at parties and may have a drink at a wedding. I am careful because as the child of an Alcoholic, I am at a higher risk of falling into Alcoholism.  What strikes me is how uncomfortable this choice makes others.

People get defensive. They give me a hard time when I turn down drinks. They will call me out too if they see me sober.  What bothers me is when people continue to insist after I have politely declined. They refuse to take no for an answer and continue to push. They make lame judgements about how I am no fun or am in a bad mood. Or as a female it is assumed that I am pregnant. It baffles me that such a personal choice illicit such an aggressive reaction from others.

 It is irritating. What is disappointing is this judgement also tends to be targeted towards those who struggle with Alcoholism.

My Mom was judged due to her addiction. They saw her alcoholism as a personal failure. Looking back what is disappointing is the way that people judged her but did nothing to help. I believe that my Mother drank because she was unhappy and did not know how to express it. She used Alcohol to numb her pain. At my grandfather’s funeral I distinctly remember her sisters sitting in a corner, talking in hushed tones about her problems. My Mothers own sisters sitting there judging instead of helping. It sounds wild, but it happens so often. People have no idea how to approach it.

I cannot even imagine the struggle that recovering Alcoholics go through. Alcoholism is seen as a personal failure and not as a symptom of a bigger issue. We celebrate binge drinking and Mommy wine culture yet stigmatize those who develop addictions. Yet we also judge those who are sober. We accuse them of being too serious or not wanting to have fun.  Alcohol is ingrained in culture but has such a narrow area of acceptance. Our society has created a troublesome narrative surrounding drinking, but then punishes those who fall victim to it. There is a big issue with the way that Alcohol is perceived.

I believe that Alcohol is always going to be part of our lives. Sometimes I believe the world would be better without it, but I try to be realistic. It is always going to be here. We cannot change that. Yet we have the power to change the mindset around it. we need to leave judgment behind, and let people make their own choices when it comes to drinking.

 We need to begin to be honest and open about it. Staying sober needs to be respected.  We need to reach out to those who need help without judgement. Some people can control their drinking, but there are also many who cannot.   We need to end the assumption that those who fall victim to Alcoholism are weak. There are many factors that contribute to addiction, and we cannot discover what they are if we are busy judging the victims. We need to start looking at the whole picture, not just the easy parts we are comfortable with.

We have the power to change things and make them better. It starts with those earnest conversations. We need to open-up and really be honest about the issues that Alcohol causes. Only then will we see any change.

We can do so much better.  I hope that someday we realize that.

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