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Antonio Miguel F. Terrado
“Social Drinking: Bane or Beneficial?”
Alcoholic beverages are found everywhere across the globe from cities to rural areas. Almost everyone has access to alcohol. Alcohol is used in different events. It is used in almost all kinds of celebration including religious practices. It is a part of our society and alcohol drinking has become a long standing tradition of mankind.
Ever since the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and the Americas, alcohol had already existed and it played a major role for the development of these civilizations. Because of the production of alcohol, these civilizations established class differences that would easily identify the elite from the lower class of society (e.g. wine by elites and beer by commoners). The consumption of alcohol played a vital role in religious rituals being performed back then which can be observed up until now. Alcohol was also used in medicinal practices because it is being used as a solvent. Likewise, it also being used as a source of daily nutrition due to the fact that such beverages contains calories. Lastly, alcohol also helped the government in terms of due to the very nature of alcohol and how it affects individuals especially when consumed it large amounts, alcohol needs to be regulated, and the regulation of alcohol became one of the foundations of regulations when it comes to trading. Alcohol also helped governments before because of taxation in alcohol since it is one of the primary commodities in the past (Hames, 2012).
There are also some evidences that alcohol predates the ancient civilizations. Alcoholic beverages are said to exist since the Neolithic period or the New Stone age, which is between around 8000 and 3500 B.C. In the Neolithic period, it was discovered that early human settlements started making wine and beer from wild grapes and cereals. The quality of wine and beer being produced improves because it is during this time when our early ancestors discovered agriculture. However, the beer being made during those times were more of a source of nutrition compare to how beer is being used now.
There are different kinds of alcohol drinkers which depends on the amount of alcohol they consume. They can be classified into three: those who abstain from drinking alcohol or only drink rarely, those who drink in moderation, and those who drink heavily also called as binge drinkers or individuals who drink alcohol for the sole purpose of getting drunk.
There is a clear distinction on how we classify abstinence and heavy drinkers. So, how do we classify if an individual is a moderate drinker? “No more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men” is the definition of moderation as stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005). To be clear, note that the definition of moderation is not the average number of drinks consumed on a span of several days. Examples of which counts as one drink are the following: 355mL of regular beer, 148mL of wine or 44mL of 80-proof distilled spirits. Littrell (2014) defined social drinking as “drinking more than once per month without problem consuming less than four drinks per day”.
There is a general notion that alcohol drinking may cause harm to the drinker and his/her surroundings. This is true for heavy drinking because too much alcohol may cause cirrhosis, memory lapses, impulsive behavior, high blood pressure and many more. There is an old Chinese proverb “Wine does not intoxicate man; man intoxicate themselves”. This proverb says that it is the drinker’s responsibility to regulate his/herself when drinking because of the dangers that alcohol may cause to our surroundings especially people around us.
On the other hand, studies have shown that there are positive effects in drinking alcohol especially when consumed in moderation also known as social drinking. Moderate alcohol drinking is said to help make new friends with strangers easier compared to other scenarios; it is also said that it strengthens the relations between friends; and lastly, studies show that there are health benefits when drinking alcohol in moderation contrary to the popular belief.
Positive Effects of Moderate Drinking
Human beings are generally less welcoming to people they do not know especially if they do not have a common friend. However, it is easier to make new friends with strangers when one experiences drinking with them in public drinking places such as bars, pub, taverns, etc., however one must not forget that to be always careful when going to such places because not all individuals have the same intention of making new friends. However, safety on public drinking places is not a major concern of this paper. We will focus more on the social benefits of moderate alcohol drinking.
Social interactions and social bonding is said to be the purpose of drinking alcoholic beverages with peers. Majority of alcohol drinkers are more comfortable with friends and even strangers after drinking alcohol. Given the nature of alcohol, which is a mild depressant drug, the results are to be expected because it affects the central nervous system by slowing down the rate of activities (Aldrige, et al., 2013). In this way alcohol acts as a social lubricant since it lowers the anxiety that an individual is currently experiencing making conversations between two complete strangers easier and less awkward.
Sometimes drinking alcohol cannot be avoided when in a particular venue such as parties because it is the thing to do in parties especially house parties and college parties. According to Alters and Schiff (2011), “Individuals often consume alcohol to ease their social interactions or because it is the thing to do in a particular social setting” (p. 195). Drinking alcohol is a way in making new friends from strangers easier. However, we must remember that we should drink responsibly. Alcohol drinking is not necessarily a requirement in certain social gatherings, but it is presented as an alternative to make conversation easier especially to complete strangers.
Friends drinking alcohol together tend to get more bonded after drinking. One hindrance why people are less sociable when they are in their normal state is because of the anxiety that an individual experience when they want to disclose more about his/herself to others. This is commonly seen in males. Under normal circumstances, males do not usually disclose information about themselves to other people but they do so when they are drinking. With this being said, drinking has become a normal bonding activity for males.
It is given fact that between close friends more information about has been shared about themselves. Miller, Ingham, Plant, and Miller (1977) as cited in Ruskos-Eswolden & Monahan (2009) observed that for moderate drinkers there is a significant increase in the amount of self-disclosure however no such effect was observed for heavy drinkers. This is due to the less anxiety that an individual is experiencing and also drinking small amounts of alcohol gives the feeling of relaxation in contrast to when drinking more wherein the effects alcohol is heavier that it usually results to vomiting and unconsciousness. It has been observed in experiments that if an individual is under the experience of alcohol, he/she tends to be more sociable compared to when he/she is sober. This shows that that alcohol aids social interactions between individuals (Estola, et al., 1988).
On a normal basis, people are always careful on what they will say but when alcohol is consumed, this behavior almost always is overridden by the effect of alcohol. If an individual does not filter he/she will say, then more things will be shared to a person or group which may eventually lead to knowing the person more.
The main reason for social drinking is because people want to converse to one another without the feeling of awkwardness due to that individuals are more relaxed after drinking alcohol. This is not the same with binge drinking because as previously mentioned, they drink with the intention of getting drunk and thus there is less time for conversations. Also, binge drinking is usually fast paced such that less time is allotted for other activities.
Drinking together serves to tie individuals in a special connection. Since the medieval period up until now, drinking together is a significant symbol of acknowledgement of a group to its new members (Peele & Grant, 2013). Being invited to a drink by a particular group means that that group is accepting you as a member of their group and turning down such offer usually viewed negatively.
Heath (1995) as cited in Peele and Grant (2013) said that holidays, rites of passage, arrivals and departures and other reasons for celebrations are valid reasons for drinking. In most studies, it has been identified that drinking plays an important part in celebrations. Celebrations have become a part of society due to how it positively affects individuals and as a group, with accompaniment of alcoholic beverages in most instances. With this being said, lacking of any alcoholic beverages during a celebration usually gives off a negative effect to the guest and to the mood of the celebration.
Even if alcohol is not necessarily important to be present in celebrations. It is ancient tradition that celebrations and alcohol goes hand in hand. However, one must not view this negatively. Alcohol is always a part of every celebrations from the ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. There is a special kind of celebration which almost everyone are familiar with, these are toasts. Toasts are usually accompanied by alcoholic beverages in which a message with positive content are said to an individual, or an event. Alcohol in this sense acts as a positive symbol which has been established since ancient times because on how it affects the individual or the event.
Alcohol also has several positive effects to the health of an individual but only three of them will be discussed. Some of the effects of moderate drinking is that lessens the risk of cardiovascular diseases, it also helps reduce the occurrence of gall stones, and it also helps reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
According to Theobald et al. (2000), “Light-to-moderate drinkers of alcoholic beverages or wine…have significantly lower mortality rates [from coronary heart diseases and heart attacks] (20-40%) than nondrinkers or heavier drinkers”. There is an event which is popularly known as the French Paradox. It entails that even though that much of the diet of French people mostly consists of cheese, which is a common source of cholesterol and fats, most Frenchmen are fit, additionally there are relatively few recoded deaths which is caused by cardiovascular diseases. The most probable cause of such event is that wine is a primary commodity in the country and almost all citizens of France drinks it.
Kloner and Rezkalla (2007) observed that a substantial amounts of data points out that an increase in High-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is a positive effect resulting from drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation. HDL cholesterol is also known as the good cholesterol because of its function that it carries cholesterol away from different body cells, an example of this is the arteries, which is the common target of ‘bad’ cholesterol; because of HDL cholesterol it removes the unwanted cholesterol making the arteries healthy (Khan, 2011).
benefits that one may obtain. zed from a significant amount of ns from drinking that he/she should start drinking rance drinksDrinking alcoholic beverages have been found to lessen the risk of having gallstones. Gallstones occurs in the gall bladder or bile duct in which “stones” are formed (Marks, 2014). There exist a relationship between alcohol intake and hospital admission for gall stone treatment. This relationship is explained in such a way that if the alcohol intake increases then admission reports are reduced. However, note that at high intakes of alcohol, the reduced risk gets minimal and is observed that the increased alcohol intake is “maximally beneficial if the intake is initially low (less than 30g per day)” (Scragg et al. 1984). However, it is also observed that alcohol abuse is one of the causes of gallstones.
We can see that alcoholic beverages has a double-edged effect on the health of humans one which will potentially benefit an individual while, the other may cause a disease which may potentially be fatal if not remedied. With this information, alcohol should be consumed moderately consumed because the effect of alcohol is opposite in terms of consumption.
The last health benefit that will be presented is that moderate drinking of alcohol reduces the risk of having type 2 diabetes as observed by some studies by Koppes et al and Watson.
Koppes et al. (2005) found that for moderate alcohol consumers there is a 30% reduced risk for having type 2 diabetes, whereas for heavier drinkers who consumes at least 48g/day of alcohol no risk reduction have been observed. Ethanol, which is present in alcoholic beverages, is the main reason in the risk reduction of type 2 diabetes, not the kind of beverage being consumed whether it is wine, beer, or distilled spirits (Watson, 2013).
Besides alcohol, an individual must also live an active lifestyle and eat properly to lessen the risk of having gall stones. Eating properly means eating low-fat and low-cholesterol, but eating high fiber and high protein meals (Clin-enguide, 2009 as cited by deWit & Kumagai, 2013)
It has been observed that the risk of cardiovascular disease, risk of gallstones, and risk of type 2 diabetes all follow a U-shaped graph. This entails that there is high risks that an individual will acquire the diseases given that they are either consuming large amounts of alcohol in a regular basis or they consume alcohol rarely or abstain from drinking such beverage.
People should not stereotype against alcohol drinkers. There is a reason why alcoholic beverages existed up until now. Alcohol shaped and developed the ancient civilizations and this became foundations to other areas of specialties both in science and governance. Alcohol also plays a significant role in different religions from the ancient Egyptian religions up until modern Catholicism.
The original purpose why people drink alcohol is for socialization purposes. Alcohol also helps in socialization because it makes conversations easier because they are feeling more relaxed after drinking with the company of strangers especially with friends compared if both parties are sober. For some, such as males, it is one of the best ways to socialize to one another because men do not socialize with one another on a daily basis more so if they really have nothing to talk about. Alcohol is a part of socialization extending to society itself.
Other than the sole purpose of socialization, there are also health benefits in drinking alcoholic beverages. Some of these benefits include reduced risks for having cardiovascular diseases, reduced risk for having gallstones and reduced risk for having type 2 diabetes. However, such benefits are only observable to individuals who consume alcoholic beverage moderately or not abusing it. This aims to encourage heavy drinkers to put an effort to minimize their alcohol consumption because nothing is lost in trying. It is observed that the risk of occurrence for these three diseases follows a U-shaped graph, indicating that non-drinkers have higher risk than moderate drinkers but heavy drinkers have the highest risk.
Even with these possible health benefits, one should consider, especially if he/she is a non-drinker to suddenly start drinking just because of the health benefits that drinking alcohol beverages does. One should consider that we, human beings, have different physiological make-up and possibly we have different reactions to different chemicals. It is better to avoid such vices. Moderate drinking is relatively hard to do because it takes determination to control alcohol consumption because alcohol is one of the most abused substances in the world.
To be healthy it is not necessary that you must drink alcohol, this paper aims to inform individuals who are already consuming alcohol the possible benefits he/she may attain from doing such activity he/she is already doing. Nothing beats living an active lifestyle, exercising, and eating a proper meal if you want to live a healthy life.
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