Alcohol Sucks

raph @ 2014-10-24 17:35

I spent my teen and early adult life in southern Germany. The area is world famous for it’s beer. And alcohol is deeply ingrained in German culture.

Some years ago - to the surprise of many of my family and friends - I decided to stop drinking alcohol for good. You wouldn’t believe how much ridicule I was confronted with. It’s scary how prevalent alcohol is in everyday life - something that you only really see when you attempt to avoid it.

People ask if I’m a recovering alcoholic.

I answer no, although answering yes would be easier. It seems like being an alcoholic is the only acceptable reason to not drink for good.

Society respects the recovering alcoholic, who has ventured so far into boozeland. Like they crossed some bizarre finish line. Mission accomplished. It’s a way of proving one’s ability to hold even more alcohol than the other guy. An impressive achievement, apparently. Just listen to friends and family credit each other for how much they were able to drink at that wedding last weekend. For being so hung over.

A subtle difference compared to the dedicated driver: the hero-for-a-night who takes on the burden of seeing how stupid his friends behave when they get intoxicated. But only under the condition that someone else drives the next time.

To clarify my reasoning, I thought I’d write a little list of pros and cons.

Drinking alcohol CONS

- costs a lot of money
- tastes horrible
- it's literally toxic
- is bad for my health
- makes me fat
- makes me feel sick
- gives me a headache the next day
- lowers my intelligence
- makes me more likely to do dumb things
- prevents me from driving
- decreases my ability to defend myself in case of an attack
- increases the chances of being attacked

Now, don’t you tell me alcohol doen’t taste horrible. It’s barely drinkable even when masked by other ingredients (malt, barley in beer; sugar in wine and cocktails). Higher concentrations taste so bad, people frown and gag when they drink it. The only people who enjoy it are either pretending in order to appear tough or maybe alcoholics.

Sure, if you drink the stuff long enough, you’ll learn to distinguish tastes. Some drinks will taste better than others. Just because it doesn’t taste terrible doen’st mean it tastes good. Objectively, alcohol tastes bad and for a good reason: because it’s toxic. Our body doesn’t want it, so we haven’t evolved to get any reward for drinking it.

Alright, moving on!

Drinking alcohol PROS

+ complies with social norms

There you have it. Most of us grow up around adults who drink. We observe and learn that it’s what adults are supposed to do in certan situations. It’s a social habit that we copy and never question. And which many people make fun of when someone refuses to play along (I know because I’m that someone).

In case you didn’t know, I’m an introvert. I don’t enjoy pubs and nights out. With the privilege of hindsight I now understand that the main reason I spent a significant part of my youth going to pubs and drinking alcohol was because I was under the impression that it’s what you’re supposed to do. And to impress friends. Girls even.

That sounds incredibly silly. And it is. Which is why I stopped! I can socialize without drinking alcohol. I will not perpetuate the synthetic importance of an expensive toxin. Especiallly not to my kids. Oh, and I’m beyond the point where I think I have to impress people like that.

My kids will grow up with me as an example for how you can think for yourself and refuse to do stupid stuff other people do. How you don’t have to be a recovering alcoholic to stop drinking.

Most or all of the above could also be said about smoking. If you don’t smoke, you probably shouldn’t be drinking for the same reason. Smoking is bad for you? Tastes horrible? Expensive? An excuse to socialize with other smokers? A bad example for kids? Check, check, check, check, check.

I’m that guy who orders a pot of tea at the bar. I’m don’t do so because I have to drive. I’m the dedicated driver because I don’t drink.

Get over it.