Three reasons why the majority of society will drink forever.
The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. — A. A. Milne
Many readers of AINYF can probably easily tell you that the five-letter acronym means Alcohol is NOT Your Friend and embodies the essence of what we attempt to accomplish at this publication, educating everyone on the dangers of quitting alcohol and the joys of life after it.
What I’m sure some people may miss, however, is the tagline underneath it that reads “The Movement to End Drinking Stagnation (The MEDS).”
The second word in this phrase, “movement” was something we felt very strongly about when starting AINYF because we felt there was an opportunity to be a part of something special that was taking place in the world’s society today.
That change is related to the decision that so many people are making today that drinking alcohol is not something that they need to have a balanced life.
Today, more and more young people are making the decision to not partake in the liquid drug, and this shows an undercurrent of a potential new way of thinking that is taking place all over the world and could even change society in the future.
However, as I do get excited about the possibility of a world in which individuals don’t use alcohol as their crutch and inhibitor and are instead able to reach the maximum extent of their potential for the benefit of all humankind, the pragmatist in me knows that this utopian society will never really be the case for a variety of reasons.
We are programmed for the “easy” way out
One of the interesting things about our biological make-up is that one of the things that have kept us alive for so long is also the thing that holds so many people back from becoming the best version of themselves.
Our desire for pleasure, and its relationship to our survival.
When we think of survival, we typically think of things we do to ensure that we as individuals or our families live long lives. Today, that would involve eating healthy, saving lots of money for the future, and passing down lessons from generation to generation.
What we often forget, however, is that in primitive times, before we had all the stories, books, and movies that could warn us of various dangers and prevent us from making fatal mistakes in life, we only had our experiences to teach us what was good and what was bad.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, somehow it was figured out that if we were programmed to experience pleasure from the things that encouraged the proliferation of our species, e.g., safe shelter, good food, sex, then we had a much better chance of choosing these things and surviving long term.
Therefore, this programming of pleasure=good will typically win out because it is our strongest instinct that is within the core of our DNA for survival.
Now using this same concept, when we experience anything pleasurable, whether it is eating good food, the ability to make a lot of money without working too hard for it, or drinking alcohol to have a good night on the town, our minds are instantly going to want more of that because it is connecting to the driving force that we use to recognize things that are important for our survival — pleasure.
What this means is that although there can be all the warnings and education out there about the dangers of drinking alcohol and how much better life can be without it, as long as we are genetically programmed to connect pleasure with our survival, humans will always be drawn to drinking alcohol to fulfill this instinct.
And once that decision is made, and we have that first experience of inebriation and the pleasure that can come with it, it will be rather challenging to just turn it off.
Alcohol is one hell of a drug
Staying in this same line of thought, the reason that this programming for pleasure is so hard to overcome once we’ve experienced that first inebriated experience is that alcohol works so incredibly well on the brain.
While it does not have the same addictive intensity as what some would be considered “harder” drugs, this is exactly why the use of alcohol in our society is in no danger of ever disappearing.
Alcohol is a slow burn and gives you great pleasure with seemingly not a lot of initial payback for it.
Other than a bit of a headache the next morning, probably spending a tad bit more many than you desired, and saying one or two things that were a bit out of character, when one usually first starts drinking, there are way more positives than negatives from a night of drinking.
Thinking back on all the fun we had that night before and the alcohol-induced experiences, our brain creates a connection that this specific pleasure is associated with the imbibing of alcohol, so it is going to induce us to do it again.
The more and more we have of these nights of fun and pleasure, the more our brain will tell us that it is what we need to survive.
Outside of the societal recognition of the positive effects of alcohol on our lives, there is also the physiological way it changes our mind to not just like to drink over time but to want it and need it as we drink more and more.
For many, it is not until they continue to drink over a long period of time that they start to recognize the negative consequences of obtaining this pleasure and the price they have paid for it.
Had alcohol been as dangerous or fatal as some other hard drugs and the negative consequences of partaking had been immediate (death, paralysis, immediate addiction), the brain would’ve had made a decision that this didn’t lead to “long term” survival and would tell you to stay away.
However, since this alcohol seemingly gives you more than it takes away initially, naturally human beings are going to generally listen to their most basic human instinct and partake.
The acceptance of alcohol is too ingrained in our culture
Regardless of where you live in the world, alcohol seems to be ingrained in the very ethos of everyday culture to the point that it is almost impossible to have grown up almost anywhere in the world and not be exposed to its influence on life.
From the earliest recognized recorded use of beer by ancient Egyptians around 5000 BC to the philosophical debate of wine’s use by the great philosophers many years later, drinking has been something that has been used for celebration and bringing people together.
You only need to turn your television on to watch ANYTHING, and you’ll be bombarded with a ton of beverage ads sharing some picture of how alcohol is the right decision to make in a number of different scenarios.
It seems almost impossible to even watch a movie without at least having one scene in which an alcoholic beverage is consumed. Don’t believe me? Just starting taking a note of it the next time you watch any show to prove me wrong.
We’ve been programmed to accept that we need this for almost everything we do in our culture, especially celebrations.
Someone getting married? Drink at the wedding.
Someone having a baby? Drink at the baby shower.
Someone retiring? Drink at the retirement party.
There are basically very few scenarios in which drinking would not be encouraged or even mandated depending on the time frame of one’s life.
It is almost a right of passage to drink in college and anyone who does not do it is considered to be a bit of a social outcast by the majority of other college attendees during that time.
While it is already hard enough to decide not to drink based on our brain’s natural biological slant to desire things that give us pleasure, it becomes infinitely more challenging when you add society’s insistence that it is a natural and necessary part of our everyday lives.
We see so many images of the pleasure alcohol can give us as we’re growing up in society, we are almost drawn to want to at least try it at some point.
Considering this, to think that we would ever live in a world in which the majority of people are able and willing to take the more difficult route in life is not something that any book on sociological behaviors would probably support.
Regardless of the numerous negative impacts it has on us individually and on the society in which we live, the thought of it ever being completely eliminated from society is just not likely.
Whether it’s for any of the three reasons listed above, the majority of people like to drink now and will probably drink until the end of time.
And while this could seem to discourage the mission of AINYF since we are focused on “ending” drinking stagnation, sometimes having a goal that one will never truly obtain is the best way to create a movement that will also never truly end.