Social pressure to drink alcohol

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.


  1. DonDueed says

    I too had some rough experiences with overindulging as a young adult, but these many decades later I find I enjoy having wine with meals once or twice a week.

    I do tend to drink more around the holidays, mainly because I often visit my brother and/or nephew, both of whom drink more than I do. Also, in that situation I don’t have to be concerned about driving anywhere.

  2. agender says

    Hej Mano,
    you have the “good” reason for not drinking alcohol -- the emotion from disgust to “not enjoying the taste”. This is the stable state of mind for a non-addictive society.
    I have the “wrong” one -- anything which has to do with alcohol triggers flashbacks to the abuse family I was born into and raised.
    I am also among those persons who give not-drinking a bad health statistics (several aspects).
    I cannot prove it, but if someone in the social sciences wants to try -- use the concepts!
    As to Sri Lanka or Australia or…it is NOT a problem of counties, but one of social strata.
    You move in academic circles, and the Australian describes circles which were sometimes calling themselves “prolls” (those who are not very educated and proud of it). The term comes from “proletarian”, but does not necessary mean that all who belong there are poor and out of job; “new-rich” showing off are much more visible (not sure about respective numbers).
    In my childhood and youth I watched the SLOW transition from German §2 StGB (the paragraph of the penal code which gives people with some conditions leeways of “being not responsible”) for everything they do to the exclusion of traffic and handling machines. When I came of age and got a driving license myself, it was accepted by most people who could afford a car that driving and alcohol do not mix -- and anyone who had a car outside was excused of consuming alsohol.
    20 years later it became no longer necessary to insist on having the car, there are alc and nonalc beverages in each situation EXCEPT the very poor (homeless or places where the victims of the unsocial Hatz-laws spend their time) and the PROLLS -- the people/mostly males who would rather spend money on their lawyer or a second driving license from another EU-country than to stop imbibing. Overlap with sexist violence, domestic and otherwise: closely to 100%.
    And one thing they often use is the toxic(!!!) definition of “being a man” -- for both.

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