Drinking is indeed a social problem when many in society judge one as being a wowser for not drinking alcohol during a lunch or party. It is almost as if it is anti-social not to drink.
How often have I been urged to “just have one’ although I have told my hosts I am driving and don’t want to drink. “One won’t harm you” and “you can have a drink every hour without being over the limit” I was told, while they held a glass of wine or beer in front of me.
Friends become belligerent at the end of a get together when I try to convince them not to drive home, because they “only had a few and they’ll be right.” So I feel like a patronising fool and let them drink drive, but I don’t feel good about it and contact them the next day to make sure they got home in one piece without killing anyone. But what if they had had an accident? How would I cope with that for the rest of my life? Their irresponsibility has become my problem, because I feel guilty, while it has little to do with me. Surely no one expects me to forcefully take car keys from other people, or dob in friends by calling the police.
Similar pressure happens when friends and colleagues want to have “a couple, a quick one, a coldie” after work. Not joining them makes you an outsider, even an outcast. The non-drinker is a non-respected rarity, like a vegan, or the guy who has twenty tattoos on his face. Non-drinkers are party poopers, a nuisance really, because they need extra care and catering.
We live in times where not drinking alcohol is almost considered anti-social, and only the strong and assertive can resist the peer pressure, and get through a party without succumbing to the constant lure of alcohol. “Just the one; surely you can have one with a meal.”
I have seen it happen time and time again. People who arrived at parties committed to not drinking, left well over the limit, all because friends convinced them it was alright to do so.
Not only young and under-aged people have to deal with peer pressure when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Mature, older people feel the pressure as well.
I prefer not to take a bottle of wine to every lunch or dinner I attend, and instead bring a bunch of flowers, as used to be common in my native Holland or a small present for my host, as was tradition in Germany when I lived there. Once one brings a bottle, one is expected to help drink it, and if you don’t you are impolite.
A mate used to call or text me daily around 4.30 saying “beer o’clock.” On days when one is not working and has nothing on, it is hard to resist the temptation of beer o’clock. That is the kind of peer, or should I say beer, pressure we are dealing with. The attitude of society needs to change before things will get better.
Being drunk was seen as anti-social when I lived in Europe, and I was surprised after migrating to Australia that people would boast on Monday mornings how “pissed” they got on weekends and how terrible their hangovers were. If we believe getting drunk on weekends is some kind of achievement, instead of the problem it is, we have a very long way to go. Time to wake up Australia!