Alcohol has a particularly important presence in our modern American culture. We use it to entertain, connect with others, make family gatherings lighter, engage in business with it and rally around our favorite sports teams while drinking it. Multi-billion-dollar industries have been created around beer, wine and spirits, and popular culture has produced a number of timeless celebrity icons who indulge in: Hemingway, the Rat Pack, Keith Richards, Hank Williams…hell, even Ulysses S. Grant.
Our culture is totally schizophrenic around alcohol: it promotes it to no end, and yet ignores the repercussions of consuming it. Domestic violence, broken marriages, infidelity, depression, and divorce, among other things, result in the overindulgence of booze. Socially, it’s really hard to break away from the attractiveness to it. The parties we go to, the people we hang out with and the advertisements we encounter all promote it, and yet it still continues to get us into trouble.
Men tend to avoid their feelings, and therefore, the problems that those hidden feelings create. Alcohol has always been the socially acceptable avoidance strategy for many men. To find and connect together, alcohol as a social lubricant that allows men to do what comes more naturally to women: seek social support. Women have known this, but to prevent isolation and loneliness, men usually only rally around each other when it involves sports or some like-minded activity. Feelings are rarely discussed, but alcohol allows for “loose lips” contact. Men are much more free and open while drinking to connect to other men emotionally, because it’s not something that men do while sober. Culture doesn’t allow for it, so most men don’t do it. Alcohol provides the social bonding outlet, as well as an opportunity to “speak one’s mind”.
Things to think about:
- Do you find your self drinking alcohol to avoid people, situations, or feelings?
- Have you fought with your wife or girlfriend around alcohol? Do you fight more with her when you both been drinking? Is your relationship taking a hit because of your drinking?
- Are there competing voices in your head, one of which says to slow down or quit drinking?
- Have you experienced the blues, feel down, isolated and alone?
- Do you have a family history of alcohol abuse or dependence? Did you have a mother or father that drank heavily?
- Are you lying to cover up your drinking, or minimizing the number of drinks that you consume?