“So you never party?”…
… a question I have gotten several times and many more people would have asked if they just dared to say what they were thinking or if they were not that polite. People usually ask me that question when they get to hear that I live alcohol free. “You know like you do not drink (!) so how can you dance and socialize?” Today was one of those days when a taxi driver asked me.
My answer: “Oh, I do party! Why wouldn’t I?”
And then I told him the story about placebo effect and the behavior of people who were convinced they got alcohol in a bar but they just got alcohol free drinks. How much fun they had. How relaxed and daring they became. They approached strangers. They danced. They were communicative. They embarrassed themselves. They would open themselves, and they would just chill with a dull smile on their face, you name it.
The evidence covered by Good Morning America:
Why? Because they would allow themselves to do it. They could either socially succeed or they would fail and then it would not be their fault but alcohol’s fault (this phenomena is called Dutch courage). And other people would either be impressed by their entertaining sense of humor, or would think they are just weird or would dislike them. Either way alcohol would be to “blame”.
And it goes like that from weekend to weekend, from party to party until you do not attend an event where you would have the chance to realise that you ARE the funny one, that you HAVE the social skills needed to hit on a person or impress your colleagues and all that without the substance of ethanol. You just do not know it cause you haven’t had chance to experience it. So you get robbed of these experiences which is a pity. And your conviction that it is alcohol that makes you a social star will not allow you to be it, when at an event where you simply have no access to alcohol.
The taxi driver smiled. “You are right,” he said. “But sometimes people just want to forget themselves. Withdraw from this world”.
Yeah and this is the sad part. The more you “withdraw” the longer it will take you to deal with the “problem” you are trying to withdraw from. Because, oh man it’s there. Waiting for you to sober up and handle it. And you have two options: either to get a grip of it or to withdraw again and again.
So, yeah I do party. And what is really cool is that I can party whenever I choose to and not only when someone puts a fancy bottle of ethanol with some artificial tastes into my hand. And what I noticed is, that by choosing alcohol free drinks, my friends do so, too. Not because they feel forced but because they actually prefer alcohol free and do not feel the pressure to pay for and use a drink they do not like.
And just to prove how strong your mind is, here are some facts about ethanol:
There is no empirical study that would prove that alcohol has a chemical impact in your body that would lead to loss of inhibitions. There are, on the other hand, studies that show that when people think there is alcohol in their glass, they lose inhibitions.
Similar it is for alcohol and aggression. Cultural norms and the excuses connected to alcohol use allow agreession but alcohol itself does not chemically contribute to aggressive behavior. Alcohol also does not cause chemical reactions in your body that would increase your sense of humor or perception of fun. When it comes to alcohol and sexual performance, Shakespear got it right: ”Alcohol increases desire, but takes away the ability”. So here I listed what alcohol does not do. The last thing on my list is that it does not taste. The substance itself has no taste but the drinks of course do. You do the math.
So what is it that alcohol does with you physiologically then? Alcohol influences your coordination, slows down your reactions and lowers intellectual performance.
That does not sound like party to me.
I guess it is actually me, who could ask: ”So, you never really party when you use alcohol, do you?”
For more information:
The Marlatt Method to test empirically what are the real effects of alcohol and which are more connected to expectation.
The Placebo effect
Fake Free and the most innovative way to prevention
You hit the bull’s eye with everything you’ve written above.
Feeling free and having the possibility to communicate in an enjoyable way at parties has nothing to do with the influence of ethanol.
Of course, I’ve to admit that I don’t live completely without the consumption of alcohol. I made my first experiences with its effects before realizing all the detriments it implicates. Due to that, I started thinking about how to make acquaintances – especially my friends – aware of that risks. And like you already said, the easiest way to change peoples behaviour is being a good example. I myself have often had the feeling, drinking is a consequence of permanent role expectations of our society, but now I reached the point where I recognize that it has a lot to do with habits. If you once succeeded in saying “No!” when there is a friend who offered you an alcoholic drink, you start asking yourself: “Why shouldn’t I do this again?”. So I got my amount limited more and more. The latest and maybe strictest example I’ve undergone: An older women I know quite well had invited me to a drink – selfmade liqueur – in the afternoon while why celebrated an old tradition in our home village and I’ve only said “No, thanks. Not today. ” – in a polite way – because I didn’t want to insult her efforts. And she asked me again and again and with every “No” out of my mouth she became more angry. Finally I took my jacket without further words and left the location. Afterwards I wondered, whether it was right or not, impolite or admissible. In the end, I had enough self-assurance to decide, that I’ve to change my attitudes towards that topic for no one. And for no tradition as well. But trying to convey people of that point of view abuts on the borders of their imagination a good many times. Telling someone, dancing without restraint or conducting some surprising and unexpected conversations with people you’ve never met before is possible still induces a face that shows a lack of understanding at the counterpart. It has to be done a lot to erase the fixed opinions in our world concerning the correlation between having fun and parties and the consumption of alcohol. Often it’s tradition, often it’s habit, often it’s role expectation. And sometimes it’s force. So there are many faces to fight against.
Where to start?
Thanks Adalia for your highly interesting comment. Good for you, that you are cutting down on your alcohol use. It’s actually even good for your environment – as you also allude to.
I think that the whole point is: human beings can learn behaviour and re-learn it, too. Our current alcohol culture is intoxicating, dangerous and excluding many people. But we can re-learn, just as you give examples for – the way to view, treat and deal with alcohol. There’s no natural law that makes it a must at social events. And so, there can be alcohol-free drinks that are more healthy and stylish to celebrate and make an evening special without all the negative effects that come with ethanol in beverages.
Hi Adalia and thank you for the comment! I would say that it is very important to follow one’s own feeling. I told students in school where I talked about expectations associated with alcohol use – that the most important is to have the right reasons for the behaviour we choose. And for using alcohol I can not find any. What you did, that you did not take the offered glass is great from many perspectives. By being sober we open a possibility for someone else who is also around to be sober as well. For someone who honestly and sincerely wishes to avoid alcohol but can’t resist the social pressure or expectation to do that. I have experienced it several times in my life that people actually felt relieved when they did not have to order a glass of alcohol.