Where have you gone, Dean Martin?

I come from a family of drinkers.

Not alcoholics mind you, but people who like various forms of alcohol and drink them in a responsible manner. This is a distinction that must be made. In fact, the mere fact that I have to make this distinction is why this post even exists.

My father was keen on scotch. My mother? She had a small bar in our double-wide trailer that consisted of vodka, rum and various schnapps. Both my parents had a taste for beer. These weren’t items that were consumed on a daily basis, but rather items that were saved for moments when they could be enjoyed.

I don’t necessarily mean enjoyed in the “taste” sense either, although my dad was known to mock lesser quality scotches and Budweiser was something that was brought into the house only by aunts and uncles. Rather, I mean enjoyed in the sense that adults would plan weekends together. At these weekends, cards and other board games were played, drinks were plied and fun was had by all. Everyone stayed the night, watched the football game the next day and then went home.

Do people still have nights like these?

American culture has changed over the past 50 years. Alcohol has been relegated to bars and beer ads. Alcohol for responsible home use is hardly spoken of any longer. My question is this: Does this reflect reality?

Consider this: The best resources for discovering data surrounding annual alcohol consumption are not the Food and Drug Administration or even the Bureau of Tobacco, Alchohol and Firearms. The best data comes from the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The unintentional message sent by this is peculiar: the drinking of alcohol, responsible or otherwise, is a behavior that does not reflect that normal functioning adults, even if 55% of women and 61% of men drink in the United States.

Note that I don’t want to diminish the issue of alcoholism at all. People undoubtedly struggle with it, and the ramifications of this disease are far reaching. But for every one high-risk male drinker in the United States, there are five low-risk drinkers. In females, that ratio raises to 1:10 (data pulled from here). It is important to note that the a high-risk drinker is not an alcoholic or even a problem drinker, by the government’s definition. Rather their behavior may lend itself more easily to these diseases. (A high risk drinker is defined by the amount of a persons consumption. To be defined as a high-risk drinker, one must consume in a typical week, more than 14 drinks (men) or more than 7 drinks (women). Or on any day, more than 4 drinks (men) or more than 3 drinks (women))

But back to my main point for a moment – Alcohol is not a puritant product. We tend to drink alcoholic beverages not for the taste, but rather for (surprise, surprise) the alcohol. For proof of this, one needs only look at the sales of non-alcoholic beers and wines.

What I’m trying to say is this: I drink alcoholic beverages. I do so for a variety of reasons, including taste and for the slight buzz it may bring. I endeavor to drink responsibly, and I never drive after drinking, nor drink if I’m driving.

The question is: Is it socially acceptable simply to say “I drink alcoholic beverages” and leave it at that? Or must I add the qualifiers that I did in the previous paragraph in order to make my statement more socially acceptable?

Just wondering.

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