• LuckyR
    443
    I’ve always struggled to understand the appeal for mind altering substances. Whenever I tried it, it just felt like a dream where I wasn’t fully in control of my thoughts, and I never liked it. Why do humans want to escape their mind and avoid reality? How is it an advantage?


    I understand your struggle, since yours is an atypical reaction to alcohol.

    As to the advantage, while I can identify admittedly minor competitive advantages, it is my opinion and experience that the main advantage of alcohol consumption (especially when alcohol was invented) is personal, not competitive.
  • baker
    5.6k
    Who would you trust more to access the value of things, your sober self or your drunk self?
    — Skalidris

    This question reveals a big gap between yourself and the matter at hand. As if 'trust' or 'value' have anything to do with the use of alcohol.
    Tom Storm

    Of course they do. Although probably not to people who are more emotional than they are philosophical.

    To illustrate this difference: I once had a brief exchange with a psychologist who wrote for Psychology Today about gratitude. I struggled to understand his points because he seemed to think that *feeling* grateful is all that matters, and that everything that has to do with *whom* one is grateful to and how one *expresses* one's gratitude are unimportant or tertiary at most. What is more, right away, he accused me of trolling and repeated this several times, in every reply to me.

    I think it's absurd to talk about gratitude solely in the framework of how it makes one feel. But apparently for some people, this is entirely enough. How, is beyond me, other than to try to explain it with the difference between emotionalism and philosophy.


    I, too, am one of those people who doesn't like alcohol. I don't like the way it goes into my head, I don't like the way it adversely affects my motor skills. It makes me drowsy, sleepy. I'm actually in awe of people who can drink and somehow feel better for doing so, who can "enjoy art" and such better when they are under the influence than sober. To me, alcohol just makes everything flat and makes me bored.
  • baker
    5.6k
    for a responsible drinker being less pissed off and more jovial is not an "illusionary" state.Outlander

    If a person requires to consume particular substances to display or practice certain mental, emotional, and behavioral skills or traits, this means that they are unable to practice those skills or traits *deliberately*. This is a weakness, a disadvantage.
  • Outlander
    2k
    If a person requires to consume particular substances to display or practice certain mental, emotional, and behavioral skills or traits, this means that they are unable to practice those skills or traits *deliberately*. This is a weakness, a disadvantage.baker

    Spot on. I don't believe anyone could disagree.

    However one should differentiate "requires" from "prefers". I'd say I "require coffee" first thing in the morning to get moving. I strongly prefer it, and if I happened to run out I would likely go through considerable measures to obtain a cup. But if all coffee ceased to exist from the world, I would simply have to go through my morning routines regardless.

    Per my example, sure, if you cannot not be pissed off without becoming intoxicated that indeed would be a problem. On the other hand I stand by the fact for most responsible drinkers, alcohol makes one "more jovial" as in, relative to one's preexisting state of joviality. To further agree with you, yes if one is unable to be jovial without becoming intoxicated that is in fact a negative trait one possesses.

    Take something very tedious and boring no one enjoys. I don't know, sorting a 5-gallon bucket's worth of buttons that have become unsorted. For example. If, in this fictional example, you had to do it anyway and it's something you simply don't enjoy, you can't force yourself to enjoy it, that is to say you can't artificially elevate your "happiness" on cue or command absent of external stimuli. Can you? Sure you could look forward to the reward and bear that in mind or focus on it whilst doing so (say they're rare and worth a considerable amount once sorted) or be thankful of how good or satisfactory one's life is and what one has. Sure with discipline one simply does the job regardless. If one would not do the job because of a mental wall or some sort of personal refusal without being intoxicated (alcoholism) then yes that is a separate yet very common set of scenarios.

    In short, sure with discipline or "skills or traits" you can be friendly and pleasant even when you're going through hell so to speak. But this is a facade.

    I think we can delve into two different common "types" of people's personalities, which many are a mix of the two or others but for simplification we will distinguish two: "introverts" and "extroverts". I wouldn't say it's fair to condemn one over the other as being a "weakness" or "disadvantage". Some people just don't like crowds. Some people can't be by themselves for more than a few days without losing their mind or at least becoming irritated or depressed. It's different mental configurations be they biological, habitual, or a combination of both. So, while I agree with most everything you've said I think the assertion that someone who "requires to consume particular substances" to say have fun and feel at home in a crowded or unfamiliar environment is an automatic, cut-and-dried "weakness" and "disadvantage" needs some revisiting.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    This question reveals a big gap between yourself and the matter at hand. As if 'trust' or 'value' have anything to do with the use of alcohol.
    — Tom Storm

    Of course they do. Although probably not to people who are more emotional than they are philosophical.
    baker

    I don't know what point I was making there; seems like clumsy wording on my part which overstates the case. I was attempting to say that using alcohol in moderation, like most people, is unlikely to split a person into two competing spheres of values and trust. It's certainly not the first lens I would be using when examining alcohol use.

    But perhaps the OP thinks all alcohol use leads to Bacchanalian frenzies and distorted thinking.

    It does seem clear to me that people's views on alcohol are emotional and depend significantly upon lived experiences. Many of the anti-booze campaigners I've met were those who had ruined their lives through alcohol or had been abused by family members who drank to excess. This would be hard to factor out of one's thinking.
  • baker
    5.6k
    However one should differentiate "requires" from "prefers". I'd say I "require coffee" first thing in the morning to get moving. I strongly prefer it, and if I happened to run out I would likely go through considerable measures to obtain a cup. But if all coffee ceased to exist from the world, I would simply have to go through my morning routines regardless.Outlander
    Coffee. Another thing that makes me drowsy. If I drink coffee in the morning, I'm likely going to be tired and drowsy the entire day, without getting much done.

    On the other hand I stand by the fact for most responsible drinkers, alcohol makes one "more jovial" as in, relative to one's preexisting state of joviality.
    Then, perhaps, my default state of joviality is more intense than that of most people. I'd describe myself as naturally optimistic, even to a fault

    Take something very tedious and boring no one enjoys. I don't know, sorting a 5-gallon bucket's worth of buttons that have become unsorted. For example. If, in this fictional example, you had to do it anyway and it's something you simply don't enjoy, you can't force yourself to enjoy it, that is to say you can't artificially elevate your "happiness" on cue or command absent of external stimuli.
    But why would one have to make oneself enjoy it? Whence this obsession with enjoying things?
    If something needs to be done, it needs to be done. Enjoyment doesn't necessarily come into the equation.

    And yes, I can usually find ways to make even work that is hard and perhaps tedious into something I appreciate. I do it by taking an interest in it.

    I think we can delve into two different common "types" of people's personalities, which many are a mix of the two or others but for simplification we will distinguish two: "introverts" and "extroverts".
    Also, another psychological pair comes to mind: producers and consumers.
    People who are producers require less external stimuli, have longer attention spans, they have a natural understanding that producing things takes time and effort, so they don't get bored easily.

    So, while I agree with most everything you've said I think the assertion that someone who "requires to consume particular substances" to say have fun and feel at home in a crowded or unfamiliar environment is an automatic, cut-and-dried "weakness" and "disadvantage" needs some revisiting.
    Why would one be under the obligation "to have fun" or "to feel at home" just anywhere, with just anyone?
    Where does it say that one needs to feel at home or have fun just anywhere??
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    Coffee. Another thing that makes me drowsy. If I drink coffee in the morning, I'm likely going to be tired and drowsy the entire day, without getting much done.baker

    This describes me as well, as does your description of how alcohol makes you feel. It's for that reason that I don't think this really is a philosophical difference as much as it is a physiological difference. Some people just don't have the genetic disposition to react to chemical substances as others, which also explains the alcoholic who seems compelled to drink. I haven't drunk any alcohol in probably months. It's not like I think about it any more than drinking a grape soda. It's just not of interest to me, which makes me probably really odd to someone who takes one day at a time (as the saying goes) trying to stay sober just one more day.

    The only connection I can make with the people who speak of the wonders and impulse towards alcohol is perhaps sexual pleasure or something like that, where the impulse in me is there. I suspect that there are people who have no sexual drive at all and who would not think that going long streches of time without is any great challenge.

    I don't think I can offer any great insight to someone who tells me he has amazing romantic relationships without sex nor would I suggest to that person that sex would enhance anything in his life if he were telling me that he simply lacked that ability to obtain that pleasure but he was otherwise content.
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    What is interesting to me though as a non-drinker is the sociological reaction to the non-drinker. I think non-drinkers make drinkers uncomfortable. I'm not sure if they feel judged or something or if they feel guilty for doing something that they'd feel less guilty about if everyone around them were joining in.

    It's like I need to walk around with a glass of melting ice and a skinny little straw so that people can see I am one of them. Walking around a party without a drink is like walking around without a shirt on or something where everyone notices and wants to get you a blanket or something.
  • wonderer1
    1.8k
    What is interesting to me though as a non-drinker is the sociological reaction to the non-drinker. I think non-drinkers make drinkers uncomfortable. I'm not sure if they feel judged or something or if they feel guilty for doing something that they'd feel less guilty about if everyone around them were joining in.Hanover

    Yeah, it's interesting. I am not affected by alcohol the way a lot of people are, and I don't get the appeal myself. (Which is not to say I haven't had some great times while drinking socially.)

    Perhaps for some people, who get more out of drinking, it is a matter of wanting to feel like others are on their "wavelength" or something like that? That is kind of the impression I've gotten, at least in some cases.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    I think non-drinkers make drinkers uncomfortable. I'm not sure if they feel judged or something or if they feel guilty for doing something that they'd feel less guilty about if everyone around them were joining in.Hanover

    I think this goes both ways. Many non-drinkers I know are uncomfortable around drinkers. Do they feel threatened, at a loss, judgemental, bored?

    I have been a non-drinker for 10 years. I find drinkers often become boring after the fourth drink. And some people who drink can become strident and repetitive - especially at functions or parties. No thanks.

    Perhaps for some people, who get more out of drinking, it is a matter of wanting to feel like others are on their "wavelength" or something like that?wonderer1

    Not for me. When I was a drinker I drank because it felt good. There's a sense of wellbeing and happiness that comes to many who drink. It tends to come on after the second drink but can depart if you have had too many drinks. The trick (as with so many things in life) is knowing your limits. If drinking alcohol doesn't make one 'feel better' however that looks to you, and if one's surroundings don't develop a bit of a 'golden sheen' with some alcohol consumption, why do it?

    My parents dank 2-3 glasses of wine every day with dinner. That time was often their happiest. They were moderates, and I rarely saw them drink more than this. They used to consider the two hours around dinner to be the happiest of their day.
  • LuckyR
    443
    What is interesting to me though as a non-drinker is the sociological reaction to the non-drinker. I think non-drinkers make drinkers uncomfortable. I'm not sure if they feel judged or something or if they feel guilty for doing something that they'd feel less guilty about if everyone around them were joining in.

    It's like I need to walk around with a glass of melting ice and a skinny little straw so that people can see I am one of them. Walking around a party without a drink is like walking around without a shirt on or something where everyone notices and wants to get you a blanket or something.


    Yeah, it's the same psychology as vegetarians making meat eaters uncomfortable.

    However, there's a difference between someone not consuming alcohol (or meat) and another person announcing they're a teetotaler (or a vegetarian).

    It's not about the noncomsumption, it's about the conversation.
  • baker
    5.6k
    Yeah, it's the same psychology as vegetarians making meat eaters uncomfortable.LuckyR

    Where on earth is that??
    Where I live, not drinking alcohol or not eating meat is met at least with disdain.
    When I was a vegetarian, I wouldn't dare tell that to my doctor if asked. If I again go vegetarian, I still wouldn't dare say so.
  • baker
    5.6k
    Many non-drinkers I know are uncomfortable around drinkers. Do they feel threatened, at a loss, judgemental, bored?Tom Storm
    It's not merely a feeling. We're supposedly living in a democracy, but not when it comes to alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and meat. We're supposed to consume all those, or at least approve of such consumption, or regret that due to some objective reason we can't consume them. Otherwise, we get judged, severely even.

    If one is rich, then one can afford some "quirks and whims", but not otherwise.

    If someone comes to visit to my house and lights a cigarette, and I tell them not to, I will be considered rude and weird.
  • LuckyR
    443

    Like I posted, it's not about what one consumes or doesn't consume. It's the announcement. Of course in environments where herd mentality is strong (younger age groups, members of insular groups, etc) you're not going to see the outlier opinion causing such an effect.

    The backlash against Prius drivers in the 2000s was the same thing. It's the perceived "I'm better (purer) than you".
  • baker
    5.6k
    The backlash against Prius drivers in the 2000s was the same thing. It's the perceived "I'm better (purer) than you".LuckyR

    This seems strange. It sounds more like a projection.
  • LuckyR
    443

    You never heard of the "Pious"? You obvious don't watch Fox News.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    It's not merely a feeling. We're supposedly living in a democracy, but not when it comes to alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and meat. We're supposed to consume all those, or at least approve of such consumption, or regret that due to some objective reason we can't consume them. Otherwise, we get judged, severely even.

    If one is rich, then one can afford some "quirks and whims", but not otherwise.

    If someone comes to visit to my house and lights a cigarette, and I tell them not to, I will be considered rude and weird.
    baker

    Ok, that's very unfamiliar to me. Sounds like our 1980's where you are. Virtually no one lets you smoke in their home in Australia and it would be considered vastly anti-social to to do so unless it was a smoking household. In fact, smoking is largely a taboo. You are not permitted to smoke in any cafes or restaurants. I live in a big city where veganism and vegetarianism are prevalent. In my office, around 30% of the workers are vegetarians. Alcohol is popular with many people but the non-drinker is not shunned these days. If I say no to alcohol (as I did at a party I went to yesterday) I am offered bubbly water. Coffee, on the other hand remains huge in my city and almost everyone thinks they are some kind of connoisseur of this substance.
  • baker
    5.6k
    @LuckyR
    When someone says something like "So you think you're better than me because you (drive a fancy car, have a lot of money, etc.)", I wouldn't simply take this at face value. Sometimes, this is an expression of contempt, sometimes it's envy, sometimes genuine low self-esteem.

    And then, of course, some people also genuinely believe that they are better than others, and those others simply understand them as intended.
  • Skalidris
    118
    Some people just don't have the genetic disposition to react to chemical substances as others, which also explains the alcoholic who seems compelled to drink.Hanover

    I seriously doubt that someone can be resistant to all kinds of drugs. It's not just about alcohol but about any mind altering drug. Some people just like to remain in control and most just prefer to lose it and forget. I believe alcohol reacts in a similar way on me as it does in everybody else, I just don't like it. Just like when watching a movie: people see and hear the same things but some will like it and some will hate it. It's doesn't necessarily mean that they don't see the same things or don't understand it.
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    seriously doubt that someone can be resistant to all kinds of drugs. It's not just about alcohol but about any mind altering drug.Skalidris

    I'm not suggesting immunity to intoxicants. I'm describing the pleasurable reactions varying among individuals, leaving some finding little pleasure and others more. Those who have more pleasure are subject to a greater likelihood of addiction.

    What I've heard of alcoholics describe as a lifelong urge that has to be suppressed every waking moment not to drink that first drink or that will result in a complete lack of control is not a struggle I have.

    It's unrealistic to think my resistance to that first drink is because I've got greater mind control and not acknowledge I just don't have that predisposition.

    The desire one has for alcohol moves from very low to very high, with a thousand points between. It's not as if Native Americans, for example, who have extremely high rates of alcoholism, are just weak willed. It's part of their genetic response to the substance.
  • Skalidris
    118
    It's not as if Native Americans, for example, who have extremely high rates of alcoholism, are just weak willed. It's part of their genetic response to the substance.Hanover

    Some people with mental disorders can be considered as "weak willed", and some studies showed that some mental disorders have a higher risk of substance abuse. Mental disorders are the result of both genetics and the environment. But for the case of native Americans, it's not necessarily because of mental disorders but it could be because of their culture, their lack of information about the dangers of alcohol, or because what happened to them is pretty terrible...

    My point is that the psychological state of an individual and their habits play a crucial role in their appreciation of alcohol. If you raise your kids telling them they should drink alcohol if they feel bad, or that alcohol is a holy beverage that brings them closer to God, there will be more prone to liking it. And we live in a society where alcohol is a must for socialisation so inherently, it's the norm and a lot of people enjoy it. Almost everyone who tries alcohol for the first time finds it disgusting, and the first time being drunk is also not necessarily pleasant. But social pressure makes you do it more and more, and allow it to become a pleasurable habit.

    My thread was mostly about why we keep on feeding these habits as it promotes escapism and gives less importance to meaningful social interactions.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Some people with mental disorders can be considered as "weak willed", and some studies showed that some mental disorders have a higher risk of substance abuse.Skalidris

    The idea that people who become substance dependent have 'weak wills' is old fashioned, Christian influenced thinking and was the traditional model for many years. This thinking did much harm and blamed people for their 'choices'. Around 2-10% of people will develop problematic use or behaviours, whether this be alcohol or gambling. Generally there's a complex mix of genetic, psychological and environmental factors involved.

    My thread was mostly about why we keep on feeding these habits as it promotes escapism and gives less importance to meaningful social interactions.Skalidris

    Some people instantly find alcohol pleasurable, from the fist drink. Many people will tell you that on drinking, it was the first time they felt normal or had a sense of wellbeing.

    ...feeding these habits as it promotes escapismSkalidris

    I would not construct problematic alcohol use as promoting escapism - self-medication is probably a better term for it. Using substances may well be a path some people adopt to manage significant trauma or anxiety disorders.
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    But for the case of native Americans, it's not necessarily because of mental disorders but it could be because of their culture, their lack of information about the dangers of alcohol, or because what happened to them is pretty terrible...Skalidris

    It is the result of genetics. As the study notes, generally, 50% of the cases of alcoholism are inherited. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603686/

    One can control for environmental influences because not all alcoholics reside with the alcoholic relative.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I wasn’t fully in control of my thoughtsSkalidris

    This is probably borderline off topic but, do you really feel like you're "in control of your thoughts" when you're not drunk?
  • Skalidris
    118


    What is your point exactly? That society and education are mostly helpless about alcohol consumption and that it's mostly genetic and there isn't much we can do about it?

    do you really feel like you're "in control of your thoughts" when you're not drunk?flannel jesus

    More than when I'm drunk, absolutely.
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    What is your point exactly? That society and education are mostly helpless about alcohol consumption and that it's mostly genetic and there isn't much we can do about it?Skalidris

    The OP asked why alcohol was imbedded in our society, especially in light of the fact that it can harmful. You even suggested it had no benefits.

    My response was that some of the pull towards alcohol consumption is genetic as is some of the push away from it. I think a good number (how many I don't know) who fall into the problem drinker class, which is the class we're interested in here, have a genetic driver for their behavior and it's not just a matter of being weak willed.

    I never offered a solution to alcoholism or said it shouldn't be addressed. From what little I know, I've heard 12 step programs and the like tend to be helpful.
  • Skalidris
    118
    You even suggested it had no benefitsHanover

    No, I asked what the benefits could be:

    I don’t believe this is just a random trait that stayed within us while having no advantages, so what could it be?Skalidris

    Of course some of it is related to genetics, so? Almost everything about us is driven by both genetics and the environment. But the ratio can vary a lot. The way we're driven to be disgusted by certain smells is mostly genetics and there isn't much we can do about it. So my question to you is: do you think that it is the case for alcohol? That it is mostly genetics and there isn't much we can do about it.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    What does "in control of your thoughts" mean? Controlling them how?
  • Hanover
    12.4k
    So my question to you is: do you think that it is the case for alcohol? That it is mostly genetics and there isn't much we can do about it.Skalidris

    I indicated that 12 step programs seem to be effective and I know that many people are able to deal with their alcoholism effectively.

    That there might be a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer, for example, doesn't mean there are no treatments for it.
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