I do not drink alcohol. I have no objections to it and do on occasion drink a beer or some wine but usually only because there is no alternative or the occasion is festive, like toasting someone. My reasons for not drinking are that I do not enjoy the taste of alcohol and on one occasion when I had a little too much, I did not enjoy the sensation of being lightheaded and losing control.
But at parties, it initially causes some surprise when I request a soft drink. I am occasionally questioned as to why I don’t drink but there is rarely any pressure to do so. This was not the case in Sri Lanka where there is strong social pressure on men to drink. Fortunately, the circle of friends I had in college did not drink either so that was not a problem when I was with them but at other parties, I would get comments like “Having a lady’s drink, eh?” This did not bother me and I actually reveled at the opportunity to respond by asking the questioner whether he had to use alcohol to overcome doubts about his own masculinity.
But this article says that there is strong social pressure to drink and tries to understand why. The author is based in Australia and I have written before about how songs from that country glorify drinking so may be this problem is more acute there. But he thinks that the problem is not limited to that nation. He finds, not surprisingly, that peer pressure is important in why people drink and it is more effective on younger people. When people don’t drink (especially those who used to drink before), other drinkers take it as an implicit criticism of their drinking and try to get that person back in the fold.
I can understand that. I feel a little uncomfortable eating meat in the presence of friends who have become vegetarians or vegans, even if they don’t say anything about my eating habits. The difference is that I don’t try to get them to start eating meat to assuage my discomfort, since I think that not eating meat is a good thing and I am just too lazy to start doing more towards that goal than cutting down.
The author provides tips for those who used to drink and now face pressure from their friends to start again.