Why We Drink: The Truth About Our Alcohol Obsession

4 min read

Have you ever thought that you’d never be able to celebrate a special day without alcohol? In our society, alcohol seems to be the go-to for nearly every occasion. The idea of a booze-free celebration could almost seem unthinkable—or at least it was for me, for a long time.

But as I entered my third year of sobriety, I started to wonder: How exactly does booze make a special day special?

“It’s my birthday—let’s go out to have some drinks,” I used to say each year. But you see, I also said the same thing about almost everything:

“It’s Friday; let’s go out to have some drinks.”
“What nice weather—let’s go out to have some drinks.”
“I’m happy/bored/stressed—let’s go out to have some drinks.”

That was a time when I thought of alcohol as the go-to answer to make any occasion special. But here comes the irony—as a decade-long daily drinker, there was actually nothing special about having some drinks. Drinking was my everyday routine.

The bar may be different, and occasionally, I may throw in a dinner date. But the drills were the same—drink, more drinks, then fuzzy memory and conversations I can’t remember. On a really “special” day, there might be some vomit next to the sidewalk.

How did we learn to link drinking with the words “special,” “fun,” and “celebration”? Three years into sobriety, I can’t help but feel baffled.

The Power of Glamorization: How Media Shape Our Drinking Decisions

To understand this, perhaps we need to look into the sociological factors that have ingrained alcohol into various aspects of our culture.

In a world where every other Instagram post seems to be a toast to something and beer commercials link their products with the promise of friendship and fun, the glamorization of alcohol is hard to ignore. Whether it’s the refined image of a successful person sipping expensive whiskey or the promise of endless laughter and bonding over a round of beers, media and advertising have a powerful influence on how we perceive alcohol. It’s almost as if drinking has been packaged as an integral part of the “good life.”

Studies have shown that this glamorization isn’t just surface-level. In fact, it permeates the media we consume on a daily basis. So, if we’re wondering why we’re so conditioned to associate alcohol with every occasion, we should consider how often we’re bombarded with this message in the media.

Recent studies have shown that a majority of TV shows popular among teens include alcohol use or references. What’s more, drinking is often portrayed as a fun, glamorous activity without showing the potential negative consequences. These media portrayals can subconsciously shape our views, making us more likely to think of alcohol as the go-to for celebrations, stress relief, or just about any emotion in between.

As if we have only been presented with the “happily ever after” version of the alcohol tale, these images misled many into believing that life would be somehow incomplete or less exciting without alcohol. These glamorized versions of drinking often mask the routine nature of alcohol consumption, making each drinking occasion feel “special,” when in reality, it was becoming a habitual part of many’s lives.

The Colors of Sobriety: Discovering Vibrance Without Alcohol

Is that true though? Will celebrations really lose their spark without the buzz, or will food become flavorless without a glass of wine to wash it down?

Years into sobriety, I’ve learned that the colorless life I once pictured could not be further from reality. The world didn’t lose its color; rather, it became more vibrant. For me, the habitual, mindless sipping gave way to a profound presence in each moment, with every sip of life savored. Meaningful conversations now replace fuzzy memory. I traded throwing up by the sidewalk with actual adventures into the woods and exchanged next-day hangovers with morning jogs at the crack of dawn.

I argue that it takes courage to rebel against the drinking culture. Today, I invite you to ponder with me: How exactly does booze make our special day special?

Learn more by visiting Sober Curiosity.

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