Help a teetotaller understand: why people like drinking booze and smoking?

My whole life, I’ve been an abstainer. It likely started out as my religious upbringing. These were things we just didn’t do because of our strict, fundamentalist religion.

I’ve reevaluated a lot of my beliefs, particularly since coming here and reading these boards. But so help me, I can’t come up with even one positive reason why I should ever want to ingest any of that stuff.

So tell me, what is the appeal of smoking (marijuana or tobacco) and drinking alcohol? There certainly is some appeal to the masses, else these multi-billion dollar enterprises would have gone belly-up a long time ago, but I just don’t see it.

So please help me understand these ages-old habits, from an anthropological and cultural standpoint.

they provide a sensation different from straight and sober.

people enjoy different sensations.

similar to that you might be able to exist on rice and beans and water. you would likely want to try spices and other foods after a bit.

If you never developed a taste for alcohol it’s not surprising it tastes like rat poison to you now. People who are addicted to alcohol aside various alcohol drinks have complex and palate pleasing tastes. The effect of the alcohol comes on (usually) fairly slowly, and in moderation there is pleasing balance point where your normal social inhibitions are somewhat loosened and social conversation becomes freer and easier. So good tasting and pleasing effect are win-win pluses in most peoples consideration.

As for smoking I don’t really get it. Cigars I can kind of understand but smoking cigarettes seems kind of like putting your mouth on a the tailpipe of car. The addictive stimulant effect of nicotine is a powerful kicker to keep going.

Drinking in moderation helps you relax, loosens inhibitions in social settings, and in some cases can even improve general health (in moderation, obviously.)

Smoking a cigarette gets rid of your cravings for smoking another cigarette, until you need to smoke another cigarette. That’s pretty much the sole benefit.

The first times you smoke a cigarette, and sometimes after you’ve haven’t smoked for a while, like after sleeping, you get a little high. That’s enough for a teenager to get excited about it, and the nicotine addiction kicks in pretty quickly after that.

What is the appeal of eating fine French cuisine?
What is the appeal of sex with a woman?
What is the appeal of eating raw fish?
etc etc etc

It’s an acquired taste. Life to me is not about living ascetically until you die, like a piece of meat. It’s experiencing the beauty that man has refined and created.

In the case of smoking, I dont purely because I am a fighter/martial artist.
As a European I drink wine or beer everyday in moderation because I thoroughly enjoy it.

Drinking makes me feel good and relaxed and sociable, and I enjoy the slight alteration of consciousness.

As for smoking, everyone knows that it makes you cool. (:smiley: that one was a joke)

I am just curious, do you have any other things that might be considered addictions or obsessions. It might be a creative thing you do, it could be gardening, reading etc. Most but not all people I know have something that stimulates them. I get high as a kite sometimes just doing my hobbies.

Addictions… I do drink a lot of soda. Probably a lot more than is healthy for me. I like the taste of it, and unlike most beers, it doesn’t smell like piss. Carbonated drinks seem to do well at settling an upset stomach, too.

I guess I’m not much of an “acquired taste” person. If I don’t like it the first time I try it, I see no reason to pretend I like it, and keep eating or drinking it until I convince myself I do.


You’ll just have to try them.

I don’t really get the appeal of smoking either, but I always think of what George Carlin said when people complain about it: “Kids smoke for the same reason adults do–it relieves stress and anxiety!”

Remember how when you were a kid, you’d spin around until you got so dizzy you fell over and then you’d lay there laughing until you weren’t dizzy anymore, then you’d get up and do it again?

People drink because they don’t want to have to spin around as adults; they can drink alcohol and make everything else spin around.

I love the sensation of nicotine: it soothes my anxieties and stimulates my mind just enough. I’m more me on nicotine–there’s a little more signal, a little less noise coming from my brain.

Now, I haven’t actually had any in almost 15 years, but I quit smoking despite the benefits of nicotine, not because of them.

I’ve never understood how people start smoking either. It’s just so unpleasant, expensive, and inconvenient!

That being said, it’s the actual act smoking I dislike, not the psychological benefits. So I don’t understand why people are so opposed to vaping, for example (except for second-hand vapour, if that’s actually a problem). Even if it has bad effects, those effects have to be so much smaller than the bad effects of smoking…

I’m happy to see in the places that have legalized marijuana, that it’s available in baked goods. I wonder whether it will be available as fluid for a vaporizer. I also wonder why there have never been nicotine-bearing baked goods.

Short answer is that they feel good. I suggest the OP puff on a few cigarettes and drink enough alcohol to get drunk (say, 4 glasses of wine/beer/mixed drink. See if it gives you any pleasant sensation.

I never felt different from trying cigarettes, and don’t smoke. But getting drunk gives me this pleasant, relaxed floaty feeling. It makes boring activities kind of fun and fun activities awesome.

Well, we came for the faux - superiority judgement, but we stayed to watch who fills out the Puritan roster. You know all those “sin free” angels?

(It, was a hell of a laugh…)

I started drinking for the social aspect, but eventually kept on because I like it. I like the taste of good wine & beer, and some spirits as well. I like getting mildly buzzed and having relaxed and often interesting conversations with friends. I love a G&T on the deck on a hot day. So, partly taste, partly social, and a little buzz (not the same as getting drunk, a sensation I hate and have avoided for decades).

As for smoking, I never took it up, but I expect many people start for the social aspect and stay for the addition (tobacco, anyway). I did some social weed back in the day but never caught on. Other friends liked it’s buzz and the social aspect, I preferred a glass of wine to get much the same effect.

I like the taste of wine and cider and mead and port. They happen to have alcohol in them. I don’t like the taste of vodka or schnapps, both of which have alcohol in them.

I don’t get a buzz from alcohol - after a certain point I simply can’t drink any more.

Some substances just click with some people, and they feel amazing or normal or at peace or whatever. I bet if you gave it some time you might find a drug or substance that clicked with you OP, or maybe you’re one of the lucky few who needs so self medication.

Stimulants including caffeine make me feel ILL, some people like to stay up for two weeks on meth. Everyone’s brain and brain chemistry is different.