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Friend, Foe, or Fickle Lover?

Friend, Foe, or Fickle Lover?

Media As the Reason the Masses Love Alcohol 

By Israel Gutierrez 

Every alcohol commercial is the same. People partying and having the time of their lives surrounded by friends, attractive potential hookups, and other strangers. Alcohol is portrayed as a magnet that brings people together. 

Sipping on beer, vodka, whiskey, hard cider, White Claw, or any form of some good old liquid courage can boost your confidence and aid in having a great time, according to commercials. 

Let the media tell it, and anybody would think alcohol sounds amazing. Movies, TV shows, and music often portray a society where getting wasted is a race and blacking out is just part of the fun.  

Alcohol’s positive portrayal in the media. Photo by USA Today.

Pre-gaming, getting buzzed before the real party begins, shot gunning a beer while people cheer you on, and throwing back as many shots as you can stomach before throwing up with each other in the bathroom are all deemed true tells of friendship.  

We live in a world where alcohol is marketed to people as a way to escape from the struggles of the day and have fun. But for some, although alcohol usage may start out as a fun booster, it can quickly turn into an addiction that destroys them.  

While alcohol can be something that improves an already good time with each drink you take, be cautious of the stats. 

Each year, excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for over 95,000 deaths. [1] Drunk and impaired driving related car accidents take around 29 lives each day in the United States. [2] 

Among college students ages 18-24, around 1,825 die each year due to alcohol related injuries. [3] 

Two-thirds of spousal abuse victims report that alcohol was involved at the time of the abuse. [4] 

The negative consequences of alcohol aren’t always so outwardly expressed. Alcohol use can lead to depression, as people who drink too much are more likely to experience episodes of depression. [5] 

The damage alcohol use causes should be enough for it to be classified as an illegal substance, considering it caused more deaths than drug related overdoses that claimed over 70,000 lives in 2019 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. [6] 

As history shows us, outlawing alcohol and other harmful substances doesn’t always work as well as planned. Prohibition took place from 1920-1933 and dawned an era of speakeasies, moonshine, and other illegal loopholes for the consumption of alcohol. 

The phrase “drink responsibly,” often stated in alcohol advertisements, is enough for businesses to dodge liability for people’s drunken mishaps. But as we all can easily see, people don’t always heed this message. 

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Just because scotch has cool, square ice-cubes doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. Photo by Live Science.

It seems that the portrayal of alcohol in the media can be misleading. Promoting alcohol as a good time and then telling people to drink responsibly is like putting a million dollars in front of someone and saying they can only take one dollar a day. 

Songs dedicated to the consumption of alcohol, like “Shots” by Lil Jon, which repeatedly shouts “Shots! Shots! Shots!” make everybody in the party forget about moderation. Movies and shows portraying young people doing keg stands and partying like there’s no tomorrow also push the same narrative. 

While everybody is busy preaching moderation in all things, alcohol is cleverly sneaking around the mental barriers of what we actually practice. And it is partially the fault of the media and its often-positive portrayal of alcohol consumption. 

However, the media points out the dangers of alcohol as well. Shows, movies, and songs all have times where they portray the negatives of alcohol use such as people losing their lives, taking others’ lives due to drunk driving accidents, and the pain that drunkenness has brought to individuals and loved ones—it isn’t always sunshine and roses. 

Although it does have a strong influence on the masses, the media isn’t the only culprit in promoting alcohol consumption. In fact, it sometimes does the opposite. 

The bottom line is no matter who is promoting or trying to influence you to drink, remember that at the end of the day, it is your choice. Be responsible and don’t let people pressure you into doing anything that isn’t in your best interest. 

Citations 

  1. Deaths from excessive alcohol use in the U.S. (2021, January 14). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/features/excessive-alcohol-deaths.html
  1. Impaired driving: get the facts. (2020, August 24). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
  1. Alcohol facts and stats. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/alcohol/facts-and-stats/
  1. Alcoholism and domestic abuse: finding help. (2021, February 18). Retrieved from https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/crimes/domestic-abuse/
  1. Alcohol use, abuse, and depression: is there a connection? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/alcohol-and-depresssion
  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, February 25). Overdose death rates. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
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