Have you noticed your position in regards to consumption of alcohol is so volatile – changing from “why not” with friends, “need more” after few drinks and “will not drink so much or not at all” in the morning next day, especially having a headache? Inspired by The Wall Street Journal (graph above), want to discuss how alcohol dependence influences self development.
Lets first analyze the qualities of alcohol. It seems that on every aspect there is a positive and equally negative side. Lets take positive (+) easier and more relaxed communication and negative (-) too loose communication, once the level passes certain level (and unfortunately, it is very difficult to control the level) and/or even the communication that you do not remember next day.
Having alcohol with your friends means (+) being in the social circle, while at the same time this imposes (-) the social pressure. Social circle of togetherness versus invisible pressure, which i liked to hyperbolize as “once you are out of the circle, you’ll never come back”.
Moderate consumption of alcohol could be (+) good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against diabetes, while (-) heavy drinking could damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships.
The controversy is reflected in varying recommendations of what the level of alcohol is safe. While in Netherlands suggestion is not to exceed 20g of pure ethanol per day for men and 10g for women, Italy on the same matter is much more flexible – 40g per day for men (about 450 ml or 3 glasses of wine for men and 2 glasses of wine for women).
To conclude, many researches and people (including myself) suggest that a moderate consumption is not bad or even good for you, since you take in the positive things and leave out the negatives. This sounds very appealing and natural, right, but can you consume alcohol moderately in practice? It is often you can not.
Here comes discussion, how alcohol consumption influences self development. Since we tend to consume alcohol above “moderately”, we inflict our self development rather than enhance. To start with, how could you grow personally, if you do something because of the social pressure? My personal experience is not better – i could not (and sometimes still can not) resist to beers with friends, even if i don’t like the taste of the beer! Unfortunately, the taste of the beer becomes less relevant with every new glass, thus moderate grows to excessive. Yes, it is fun. Yes, it is relaxing and i could do more crazy things, but what kind of fake development is that? Why can I not do the same things without alcohol, why do i need an artificial stimulation? Lets address the development clash with alcohol in the following segments:
(1) Social pressure – would it be more developing your character to accept social pressure or learn to resist to the things you do not naturally (without external influence) like and keep your thoughts and action intact despite temporary distractions? No Lemming Effect (read our story “Avoid The Lemming Effect to Preserve Money, Self Identity and Personal Develeopment”) any more! Also, your creativity blossoms thinking how to avoid social pressure, how to engage your mind and invite your friends to play something else, which tends to be more interesting than just to drink. Finally, what an improvement is to remember all the things you discussed with the friends and develop the ideas further, rather than going a bit in circles on the same topic.
(2) Taste – why not to develop your taste trying millions of other flavours, not hanging over only alcoholic content. To almost everyone first beer is not tasty, but with regular drinking it can become tasty. Alcohol tends to have a strong flavour due to ethanol’s properties, so essentially it is not the taste we are attracted to the alcohol, but other properties.
(3) Dizzy, relaxed and communicating – any development tends to be sustainable if it is natural and organic. Alcohol raises the mood artificially, which means “mountains” on consumption and “valleys” on the days without alcohol. Over time, mood and even sleep could incur permanent imbalances. So why not lift relaxation with the same pleasant activities, just without artificial stimulation?
(4) Health – better health obviously leads to many positive outcomes and developments. Even though moderate drinking can bring some positive effects, you will not be worse by exchanging it to some other healthy activities. Personally, health does not play significant role in my decision not to drink.
(5) Unconstrained bohemian creative feel (trying to select the words for a process, when alcohol lifts creative powers to try irregular things) – certainly you do try new things more bravely and develop a better understanding of outside box and especially it could be valuable in artistic world, but i believe there are more illusions than it seems to be and with time comes understanding that if it is not alcohol, the creative powers and needs to discover new areas show up anyway, since your hunger for discoveries and adventures are developed before alcohol.
Now lets come back to the picture and the core background reason that inspired this writing – my home country Lithuania ranks the 3rd on the list! Even though there could be some discrepancy with illegal alcohol consumption (we can go even up by ranks if all consumption included!), this is very like true and sad picture. To tell a personal story, my both grandfathers are extremely excessive alcoholics and thus i could be a little bit bias on this topic and subsequently keep some anger. Mostly not on my grandparents, but on Soviet Union. According to my personal opinion (unconfirmed with facts yet), soviet regime brought “vodka” culture to Lithuania and other occupied countries with likely some bad intentions. On the other hand, Russia does not cope well with alcohol consumption either.
Even though World Health Organization’s Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 shows that the greater the economic wealth of a country, the more alcohol is consumed and the smaller the number of abstainers, it is not (and can not be) healthy with excessive quantities (two top countries Belarus and Moldova are definitely far from being strong economies).