We’ve all felt it when we’ve tried drink less. We feel like we’re missing out on something, or we’re the odd ones out. We’re not normal, or why can’t we drink like everybody else? A major reason why we feel like this, is the influence of the society we live in. The alcohol industry has created what experts call an “alcogenic” society where too much drinking is normal and a number of myths about drinking exist.
Myth one: Drinking alcohol is normal
Because of big alcohol’s brilliant and creative marketing we are brainwashed into thinking people who drink are sociable, happy, healthy and attractive.
Big alcohol also sponsors major sporting organisations such as the IRFU in their efforts to link alcohol with sports and success.
While the government tried to ban alcohol sponsorships in the draft public alcohol bill, big alcohol put so much pressure on politicians this provision was taken out. The watered down bill has still not been passed despite years of debate.
“IRFU are sponsored by the heroin industry”
You probably are outraged by this headline and image. Unlike alcohol, heroin is illegal. Yet according to respected experts the overall most harmful drug to us is not heroin but alcohol.
Yes, alcohol is more harmful to people than drugs like heroin, marijuana etc. We look down on people smoking joints or using heroin but because of big alcohol’s marketing we think it’s ok to drink a drug that is far more harmful to us in order to feel like we’re connected to other people and part of society.
Myth two: People who drink too much are social deviants
Big alcohol wants us to believe that only a small number of people abuse alcohol. Homeless people, people living on park benches, people with mental health issues. Not ordinary people like you and me.
In Ireland however, the majority of people (54%) who drink are actually harming their health.
By creating this image that if we can’t drink less, we’re social deviants, big alcohol makes us feel that we’re the problem rather than the real problem being the relentless marketing we’re subjected to making us think drinking alcohol is normal every day activity.
As explained here, the reality is big alcohol needs heavy alcohol users to be profitable and they hide this fact.
So we’re encouraged to drink too much and then when we try to cut back, we feel like we’re social deviants thus making it more difficult to drink less.
Myth three: People who don’t drink or drink less, don’t matter
Big alcohol want us to believe that alcohol is mainly consumed by hip, attractive and healthy adults. People who don’t drink or drink less are not part of society or our culture or are not healthy.
They produce reports stating people who drink less are less healthy. But because of bias in the comparison groups where they select people who have given up drinking for health reasons e.g. diabetes, these reports are incorrect and misleading.
Yet even in Ireland, nearly one fifth of our population don’t drink at all, but we don’t hear much about these people. Very common beliefs about people who don’t drink is they are pregnant, or are no fun,stuck up or look down on people who don’t drink. Or to use that really awful term they are “recovering alcoholics”
How can I avoid feeling like I’m missing out when I drink less?
There are a number of ways to do this, but here’s three quick tips.
First, keep reminding yourself that your tipple of choice is really toxic and used in everything from cleaning dirty car engines to getting rid of smelly feet. See more details on alternative uses of alcohol here. If you keep reminding yourself alcohol is toxic, eventually alcohol will feel less attractive to you.
Second, keep reminding yourself that far from being a social deviant, you’re an intelligent person who is ahead of their time and the way society thinks. Remember when it is used to be ok to physically hit children, lock them away in institutions and no one batted an eye lid?
In the future we will look back at how we accepted too much drinking as normal with the same horror and wonder how we let it go on for so long.
Third, keep reminding yourself of all the positive benefits of drinking less. You’ll look better, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll have more time to do other things you enjoy because you’re not sleeping off hangovers. If you’re not sure what your benefits from drinking less are you can use our course here to find out or check out this blog post.
You can find out more about the evidence that big alcohol creates myths to make us drink more here.