Thursday, October 23, 2008

To Booze or Not To Booze

Yesterday's B'lore Times led with an article on Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss's current focus - total nation-wide prohibition. The Minister's concern is driven by the increasing number of youth getting addicted to alcohol. I agree that this is becoming a serious problem, but I don't feel that a complete ban on alcohol is the solution.

I grew up in a family where nearly everybody consumed alcohol. Now I don't mean that the elders were constantly talli, but whenever we had get-togethers with family or friends, the booze flowed freely and all adults were welcome to it. Even us children could take a sip from our parents' glasses whenever curiosity got the better of us. And after I turned 18, I was always offered a drink too at our family parties.

There was never any taboo attached to alcohol in our family. Adults were free to drink, but only free to drink as adults. That meant knowing your capacity, and always, always staying within the bounds of decent behaviour. As long as we behaved responsibly, there was no reason not to enjoy and appreciate fine liquor.

But during college and ever since, I've realised that the real reason why many people drink is not to appreciate good liquor, but more to "fit in" and appear "cool". And the more you drink, the "cooler" you're thought to be. I remember girl friends from very conservative families, staying overnight at whichever girl's house was empty on the pretext of group study, while actually it was a booze party. The following day they used to brag about it very excitedly; it didn't matter what they had been drinking, as long as they could boast about drinking.

Today, with binge drinking becoming the latest trend, the situation is even worse. I've seen photos of girls in UK and the US sprawled unconscious in bars and pubs after bingeing. I don't know if its the same in India, but even if it isn't, we've got a far worse trend of people drinking, driving and running others over. While I enjoy the occassional drink, I really don't know what the appeal is in boozing to the extent that you're either just a useless lump, or a total menace to society.

I don't think that drinking in itself is bad, its irresponsible, excessive drinking that's the problem. The point is that anything, consumed excessively is bad for you. Even basic stuff like sugar, salt or oil can be potentially deadly if you have too much of it.

Banning alcohol completely is not going to resolve the issue. All this would do is give the black market a good boost, and further increase the hype around alcohol, making it a bigger deal than it really is.

If you truly wanted to make a difference, the thing to do would be to tackle mindsets about alcohol. Easier said than done, believe me, I know. But ultimately, having proper attitudes is the only thing that helps you make the right choices so that you can have your fun without being a nuisance to anyone else.


  1. Anonymous9:41 AM

    Well, I 'd be quite happy if alcohol was non-existent...

  2. I completely agree with u, drinking per se is not bad, infct nothing is so bad as to ban it completely.Only we need the right attitude, somewhere drinking affect the finances of the family, so it should be done with a proper perspective much u can affors....and how much u can take, or rather limited to an driving after dronkinh, if we take all that precautions, then i dont think there is any harm.

  3. What worries me most about alcohol is they people rely on it in social situations. I wrote a post about the issue in a University context: I've also linked it to this post.

  4. What worries me the most is the way alcohol is relied on for social interaction. I wrote a post about it:

  5. Agnes - really? Well, to each her own :)

    Renu - exactly. Its all about making responsible choices.

    Greenas - you raise a good point, its like people are so afraid of being themselves, which is really pitiable.

  6. Is it so that binge drinking is affecting American ladies soo much than the male counterparts.

  7. Alcahol is not an issue , the problem comes with those who consume it.if you drink and know who you are there is no problem but if you lose your moral uprightness, there is the problem.

  8. a good post and i agree completely to your points.
    I've seen that children who come from families that drink responsible and talk openly to their children about alcohol are less likely to binge as a way to 'fit in' or 'experiment'. those whose families have shun alcohol as a 'BAD' or those who have seen elder drink behind closed doors are more likely to experiment with the 'forbidden fruit'.
    So I think the household mindset is of utmost importance. I had my first glass of wine with my family when i was 18 and i never felt the need to binge or experiment.
    But of course there will always be exceptions.


  9. Shadzo - you're right about the "losing morals" part. And about whether women are more affected, actually I had received this email once showing pics of this new binge-drinking trend, and they were all women lying unconscious.... but I'm sure if anyone drinks like that, male or female, they would pass out too.

    A - exactly my thoughts. All the alcohol advertising doesn't help either; they keep intensifying the "cool if you drink" image, when actually it should just be a matter of taste. But then I guess, same goes for all kinds of advertising.

  10. Anonymous10:49 PM

    Shalom, yes, really. You know I am not uptight about it or anything like that, I just don't really see the good in it. It's basically a drug, except it's legal. I just haven't seen a good side to it yet. It's not that I've never had a drink in my life, it's just that I like the feeling of being sober and I prefer other people being sober, too. That's all.

  11. Like u mentioned my family is also the same....but somehow I never took to it....I have this vague memory of my father very generously asking me whether i wanted to take a sip of brandy(I thk) when I was a I understand tht he was practicing reverse psychology:-P

    I have noticed tht...the people who have no alcohol prohibition in their homes turn out to be more sensible abt such things.

  12. Agnes - Yes, certainly I prefer people remaining sober too. That's why I think if you're going to drink, you should know how much you can handle and still remain in control, because people who lose it can get really obnoxious and annoying for others which is something I hate too.

    And no, you certainly don't come across as uptight :)

    Reflections - yeah, my dad was the same. He always said, if you're going to drink, do it in front of your parents. That's why it was so normal for us, whereas I know many people for whom the lure is just the thrill of drinking, like 'A' mentioned over here, its the forbidden fruit psychology at work.

  13. I agree with you about leaving the choice to people. What's happening out here in Bangalore - with regard to the time constraints on the night life, smoking and then rooting for bannign alcohol - is very unfortunate and childish. Looks like we are a bunch of unruly teens who need constant moral policing.

  14. Swetha - yeah, really, its so frustrating! The most ridiculous thing was the ban on dancing in nightclubs, it doesn't get more stupid than that!