I had my first taste of wine when I was ten and my dad poured a few drops of it in my glass and then filled it with 7-up or ginger ale. It was like a spritzer and very refreshing. I thought this was perfectly normal (it was the same for my Italian-Canadian friends) until I hit college and realized through my English and French-Canadian friends that drinking was illegal until you hit the age of 18!
So when I had the chance to chat with author and motivational speaker Randy Haveson who wrote the book Party With a Plan: The Guide to Low-risk Drinking, we discussed the differences that culture plays in how alcohol is viewed in society. Randy wrote a guest post on this very topic and I think you will find it enlightening. Be sure to keep reading and enter the giveaway at the end of the post!
Alcohol Around the World
by Randy Haveson
by Randy Haveson
There are so many different factors that go into the way that alcohol is used and viewed in different parts of the world. To compare one to another is unfair and can be dangerous. One of the most significant factors that will determine how alcohol is viewed in a society is whether alcohol is viewed as a food or as an entertainment source. In countries like France and Italy, alcohol is a food. It is a part of most meals and seen as important to a meal as meat and vegetables. In other countries like the US, England, and Canada, alcohol is seen as entertainment. It’s a part of a person’s social life. When they go out, when they have friends over, when they go to a party, alcohol is there. For some, if alcohol is not at a party, they won’t have as much fun. It’s almost expected that alcohol will be present.
Another distinction is the society’s view of drunkenness. In Italy, there is a stigma about being openly drunk in public or doing something embarrassing. If someone is drunk and makes a fool of themselves in Italy, there will most likely be a call from Grandma the next morning saying, “What did you do last night?! How could you? How am I supposed to face my friends after what you did?” A person’s behavior has an effect on the entire family, so poor decisions when drunk don’t happen as often as they do in other parts of the world.
Here in the US, drunkenness is not frowned upon in most circles. We see someone falling down drunk and we laugh. TV shows, articles in the paper and on the internet commonly show drunken behavior as comical. In college, we still call high-risk drinking behavior a “rite of passage” and shrug it off with “kids will be kids.” In Ireland, drunkenness is an accepted part of their society. It is acceptable to get sloppy drunk, get into a physical fight with your best friend, and wake up the next day still friends and laughing about the fight. And we all know that Ireland has horrible problems with alcohol and alcoholism. Until the societal view of drunkenness changes, in our country and others, problems with alcohol will continue to be a huge issue.
People want to look at drinking age as being a determining factor in the misuse of alcohol. “If an 18-year-old can vote and go to war, they should be allowed to drink alcohol” is a common thought. In actuality, lowering the drinking age in a society like ours would only make alcohol more accessible and our problems would increase. Years ago, the drinking age in some states was 18, while in others it was 21. What they found was there were less deaths on the highway in the states where the drinking age was 21. So they raised the drinking age in some states to 21 to see what would happen. Lo and behold, in the states where it was raised to 21, there were less deaths on the highway. That’s when the federal government stated that in order to receive federal highway funds, the state drinking age had to be 21. Let’s again look at Ireland. The drinking age is 18 and they have far more problems than we do in the US. If we lower our drinking age, we will have more problems, mainly because of accessibility.
When it comes to looking at the use of alcohol or other drugs in different parts of the world, it’s an apples and oranges situation. You can’t fairly compare one with another. The only way to insure lowering the problems associated with alcohol consumption is to teach people how to drink in a low-risk way. We have to go beyond “drink responsibly” because it is too vague. Teaching specific skills that help lower the risk of problems is the only way to effectively teach people how to make good choices with alcohol.
Book Title: Party With a Plan by Randy Haveson
Category: Adult nonfiction, 63 pages
Genre: Health & Wellness, Self-help
Publisher: RISE Publishing
Release date: May 2016
Content Rating: PG-13 (Since this is a book that teaches people how to drink alcohol in a low-risk manner, it's not really appropriate for kids.)
Finally! Here is a proven, practical way to drink alcohol and lower your risk for problems. Up until now, there have been two primary messages when it comes to drinking alcohol. One is “just say no,” which for the majority of the population is not an option. The other is to “drink responsibly.” But what does that mean? If you ask five random people to define responsible drinking, you will most likely get five completely different answers. This invalidates the term because it can be defined in so many different ways. Party with a Plan® gives a concise and research based formula that teaches people how to drink and lower their risk of negative consequences. It’s like creating a speed limit for drinking. If you stick to the speed limit, your chance of problems is minimal. However, the more you go over the speed limit, and the more often you go over the speed limit, the more you put yourself and others at risk. This book is long overdue!
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