Alcohol plays a huge role in the overall culture in the US. While it’s a dangerous substance when abused, it also has a positive side – a little alcohol can strengthen social ties and boost confidence. Hence it’s socially acceptable in many circles.
Adults across the nation bring different types of alcoholic beverages over when visiting their friends or relatives. Liquors or related items like beer mugs and whiskey glasses are given as gifts during occasions like weddings. You can never go wrong with the best wine club gift cards as a bridal shower, birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gift.
Why is Alcohol so Popular in the US?
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, but many teenagers as young as 17 admit to having consumed an alcoholic beverage at some point in their life. This mostly happens due to peer pressure, especially from their schoolmates.
There are so many reasons why alcohol is popular in the US. These include:
- Historically, hard liquor has been around since civilization. With such a long tradition, it’s not surprising that alcohol is so socially acceptable to many.
- Medically, alcohol has medical benefits – it's used as a disinfectant, antiseptic, and sometimes a pain reliever. Some medical professionals also encourage a moderate addition of alcohol to the diet to reduce the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Religiously, alcohol is used in many different rituals across various religions. For example, fermented wine is taken by Catholics in the Eucharist as a commemoration of the last supper.
- Economically, alcohol plays a vital role in the US economy. It sustains over 4 million jobs and generates hundreds of billions in tax revenue every year.
- Socially, Americans perceive alcohol to be synonymous with parties and any form of get-together. Also, alcoholic beverages are marketed as a necessary component for having a good time with friends.
- Culturally, alcohol consumption is used as a coping mechanism by many. If work is stressful or if you’re suffering a heartache, you’ll be encouraged to drown it with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.
Alcohol as a Social Catalyst
So many Americans drink socially because alcohol makes them feel euphoric and less anxious. According to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh researchers, moderate alcohol consumption in a group stimulates positive emotions and social bonding.
Alcohol functions as a GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) activator that boosts dopamine levels, giving a sense of happiness, relaxation, and excitement. It also minimizes the display of negative emotions and prevents you from making sad faces or being too silent when you’re out with your friends.
Drinking moderately fuels togetherness and shortens the amount of time people take to break moments of awkwardness, especially among strangers.
Alcohol’s Effect on Personality
It is well known that alcohol makes people relaxed and more open to conversation with others in a social setting. However, this has been little researched scientifically until now.
According to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, drinking alcohol might make you feel like you're not affected by other people's opinions about you and your behavior.
The author of the study and associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Bruce Bartholow, said that people should be liable for their actions because they are aware of their behavior even when intoxicated.
Alcohol’s Impact on Public Health
It’s unfortunate that alcohol consumption is often associated with aggressive behavior, accidents, and ill-health. However, moderate drinking can provide you with some health benefits such as:
- Reduces the risk of developing heart disease by helping raise good HDL cholesterol levels. Light drinking lowers the risk by about 35%, while moderate drinking lowers it by about 50%.
- Reduces your risk of ischemic stroke, whereby blood clots block or cause the arteries leading to the heart to become narrow. As a result, the blood flow to the brain is severely reduced, preventing it from getting the much-needed oxygen.
- Possibly reduces the risk of diabetes.
Overall, alcohol consumption in the United States has a powerful effect on both male and female social drinkers in a group. It increases the frequency of sincere smiles and peer interactions.
Glen Star is a passionate writer and editor for websites. He also writes science fiction and non-fiction on travel, lifestyle, fashion, and finance subjects.