An old thread I started on the topic, which got some replies. (Posting to that thread is not recommended.)
Apparently, if you can’t relax or feel at ease with other people, but want to, alcohol is for you. Of course, the last poster chimed in with
I think it may originally have come from one of two facts:
- Drinking it (or smoking or whatever) makes you feel funny.
- Letting some beverages ferment makes them toxic to bacteria, and thus potentially safer to drink in the days before refrigeration and modern water treatments.
And these days, people do it because
- There’s a perception that it’s cool
- Everyone else is doing it, and it’s easier, especially when you’re young, to participate in what’s going on than to take a hard line against, or even to simply place yourself outside of the fun.
- A third feature of humanity, at least in the society where I live, that I’ll call the “Sidewinder Effect”
- It makes you feel funny, and this is a real seller.
The Sidewinder Effect is this: I think a lot of us are so inhibited, and so lonely, and feel so separated from the people around us that we’d like to find some way of letting go, of just enjoying our lives, of connecting with people and showing who we really are. But we don’t want to or can’t or feel we shouldn’t take the step to do it, so we look for an ‘approved’ method of doing so, or for something that will make it happen without us actually making the impossible move. An intoxicant can be this vector. It can break down the walls we build, and the restrictions we plce on ourselves. It can reduce the control we have on our own behaviour, causing us to just be whatever we are under those restraints. The drug makes us do what we wnat to, but never would, becasue we don’t want anyone to know, or becasue we’re good little boys and girls. Even if what we want to do is just speak our minds, or dance despite our lack of grace.
But what do I know? I don’t drink. (Well, I guess I had that rum candy the one time). I don’t do drugs. I can barely handle tea, and I’ve never had coffee.
Why don’t I? Because I want to keep as much control as I can, if I have any to begin with. Because I’ve got all kinds of things locked away that the world can’t know. Because I’m traditionally the guy who thinks a whole lot, but only says what he’s sure of, and rarely if ever expresses what he feels, or wants. Because I’m afraid of doing something on the spur of the moment that has lasting undesired repurcussions. Because I find the idea of taking a substance in just because it makes me feel funny intellectually a little offensive, and kinda childish. Because my liver has enough work as it is, without me feeding it stuff it doesn’t need.
Because one time, I took prescribed Tylenol 3 (containing Codeine) to control pain after surgery to remove wisdom teeth. And as I sat in my easy chair, watching people watch TV, I realised I was happy. As is my habit, I tried to trace the reason for that, to find the stimulus for the happiness… and after a while I discovered that there was no stimulus; I was just happy. And I realised that there was this chemical, messing around with my mind. Making me happy. I wasn’t enjoying anything, I wasn’t fulfilled, or pleased at an accomplishment, or impressed by the beauty of the world, or excited at something in my life. I was just plain happy, and it was that pill that was doing it. I was surprised, and afraid, and also curious at what other unintended effects drugs designed for one purpose can have on one’s body.
I didn’t take any more of the pills. I’ll take real pain over fake pill happiness any day. Maybe I’ll change my tune when I have some terrible disease or injury that keeps me from thinking straight, but the wisdom teeth bit was pretty bad, and it was still better than the chemical pleasance codeine gave me.
So I dunno. I’m no expert on human behaviour. Maybe people like the purposeless pretend happiness. Maybe the fake happiness acts to amplify preexisting enjoyment when one is having a good time. Maybe people want to fit in. Maybe people are tortured by the Sidewinder Effect. Maybe it’s something else altogether. But they can do whatever they want, as long as they don’t hurt each other, and as long as I don’t have to breathe their poison in when I walk down the street.