If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know the society of alcohol is one of the biggest reasons I was able to quit drinking so easily. Of course, I had wanted to quit for quite some time and I went through all the silliness associated with the moderation fallacy and the misguided belief I could quit if I wanted to. Nevertheless, when I finally took the final step away from alcohol, one of the biggest catalysts was when I became aware of the society of alcohol. Unfortunately, until you actually see the truth, the society of alcohol simply melds into the background of our conscious minds and hides under the guise of the norm. I liken it to The Matrix in the sense that, as quoted by Morpheus:
"The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."
Alcohol is everywhere, and it has been since we were born. The only thing crazier than alcohol's absolute prominence in our lives is the way in which we pretend, as a society, it isn't. We pretend alcohol is not a problem, that it doesn't control every aspect of our lives. We pretend it isn't a big deal, yet we revere it like the air we breathe. There is no other substance, as damaging as alcohol, celebrated as strongly as alcohol. Why do we perpetuate such absurdities?
When I finally saw it, I couldn't unsee it, and I immediately found myself appalled and disgusted by what I had seen
What really propagated my disdain for the society of alcohol, was when I finally allowed myself to simply be aware of it. It didn't take a lot of work, I didn't have to struggle to see it, I didn't even really have to practice it. I simply opened my eyes, and there it was. All around me. Every day. When I finally saw it, I couldn't unsee it, and I immediately found myself appalled and disgusted by what I had seen. From that day forward, sobriety has been easy and a pleasure. It is the biggest reason I have continued on the path I am on in regard to writing, blogging, podcasting, and the work I do in the sober community. I want others to not only see what I have seen but also to see what I have seen in the way I have seen it. I want this because I know, once you allow yourself the opportunity to witness it, you too will forever change your perception of alcohol and the society that fosters its destructive nature.
What exactly is the society of alcohol? Well, it is you and me; our friends and family; our neighborhoods and communities; cities and states, countries and continents. It is everyone who supports and promotes the consumption of alcohol even if only passively. The society of alcohol is the media, movies, television, literature, and word of mouth. It is cultivated and taught at a very young age. It begins the moment we notice and then acknowledge the mysterious appeal and reverence for the illustrious liquid. We watch as our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends gush over the joy of consuming their libations. We begin counting down the days until we can legally consume the drink so unanimously glorified by everyone close to us. Most of us even go out of our way to find access to it before we reach the legal age because we just couldn't wait to experience what all the fuss was about. Some of us, if we were lucky, were even given early access to it by our family. Turns out, we were not so lucky after all.
What's worse, is while it is everywhere, it is also touted and promoted as something we need to do
Here is a shocking statistic. "Teens who start drinking before the age of 15 years are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after the legal age of 21" (dosomething.org). Well, I guess it really isn't that shocking. What is shocking, however, is the haphazard way in which we allow alcohol around our children. I remember giving my young child a drink of wine or beer. "Here try this." Then, we laughed at the grimaced face they made after tasting it. As if that isn't bad enough, we then go out of our way to reassure them they will learn to like it when they get older. In what other circumstance do we try so hard to ensure our children are aware that when they will grow up, they will learn to like something potentially fatal? It doesn't make any sense.
Of course, it is not only in the home that alcohol is pushed down our throats, either. Alcohol is glamorized and advertised globally and incessantly in our everyday lives. We see it on billboards, in magazines, through popups on our computers and phones, in our favorite television shows, movies, and books; we hear about it in our favorite songs, from coworkers, and friends. We cannot go a day without encountering a barrage of alcohol-related paraphernalia. It is truly everywhere. What's worse, is while it is everywhere, it is also touted and promoted as something we need to do. Not suggested, not encouraged, not recommended, but we are actually told we need to consume alcohol if we want to be cool, fun, entertaining, successful, elegant, and even intellectual. If we do not drink alcohol, we will miss out on all the fun. Of course, they don't tell us the real truth. If we do drink alcohol we are just as or even more likely to truly miss out on all the fun because we are not present, checked out, passed out, sick, unintelligible, and unable to function like a normal person.
We unconsciously want others to suffer with us so we don't have to feel bad about our own problems with alcohol
Pay attention. Give it a try, even if only for one day. Open your eyes and ears. Watch and listen to the way alcohol is revered and celebrated. Look at the myriad of ways signage portrays alcohol as a positive influence in our lives. Listen to your family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers talk about their devotion to alcohol. Take it in and then remember the staggering statistics about alcohol-related deaths in the United States alone. 261 people die every day as a result of excessive alcohol use. That is 95,000 deaths per year (cdc.org). And, we promote it. We make fun of people who don't drink. We make our friends feel bad if they don't want to drink with us. We push our friends, families, and strangers to drink more. We do all of this because we don't want to be alone in our suffering. We unconsciously want others to suffer with us so we don't have to feel bad about our own problems with alcohol.
Are you part of the problem? If so, it is never too late to defect from the society of alcohol. I am proud to say I no longer support the society. I am proud to say I actively take steps to help people find their way out of the society. I am proud to be an advocate for those willing to stand against the norm and fight for a new norm; the Alcohol-Free Society.
Are you with me?