I have been asking myself this question for some time now. I have just never understood why some people have to drink until they are drunk, because I see drinks as being made to quench thirst and so I would normally only drink when I am thirsty; similar to eating when I am hungry.
This means that I usually look at alcohol in the same way as I would look at any drink, which I often simplify to water. No one would normally consider downing a pint of water or drinking several glasses of water in quick succession, unless it is for a good reason. I can just never see a good reason for drinking a large volume of alcohol in a short period of time. The fact that most people admit that some of the alcoholic drinks that they drink in large volumes are not pleasant at all also confuses me. Why force yourself to drink something that you do not enjoy, out of choice? I can relate it back to the food analogy: why would anyone ever force themselves to eat food that they do not like, out of choice? Getting drunk is also not as glamorous as films make it seem and I never think that it is worth vomiting and spending the whole of the next day in bed, yet many people disagree. However I think that I have been able to begin to answer my question after experiencing environments where many people get drunk on a regular basis.
I think the biggest factor why people get drunk is due to peer pressure. This does not always mean that they are forced to drink, but more to the fact that they are in an environment where everyone else is getting drunk and they do not want to miss out or seem abnormal. Of course some people are also forced to drink, and this usually occurs to the most vulnerable person in a group. This is because getting a person who doesn’t normally drink to get drunk is usually quite easy, and the person can then become the group’s source of amusement.
For people who are drinking with the intention of getting drunk, I think that there are times when they say they are drunk and act drunk but are in fact actually not. This could be because they do not want to drink more, so do not want to be forced to drink more until they are actually drunk and so act like they are already drunk. However I think that it could also be due to a sort of placebo effect. When someone drinks with an aim to get drunk, they will be more wary of their state, in anticipation of being drunk, and any slight hints of drunkenness will be exaggerated by their brain. Therefore they usually do not drink a lot of alcohol at all, yet will act like they have drunk immensely over their limit. They will not realise they are in fact not drunk, as their brain will convince them that they are. This means that potentially some of these people could get drunk on water if they were convinced it was alcohol.
For people who drink alcoholic drinks that they do not like, it could be due to peer pressure or they could be doing it to prove a point. A common example would be vodka. I have never heard anyone say that vodka tastes nice, and a normal person would not be able to even drink half a cup of straight vodka in one go. This is why vodka is very commonly mixed with a soft drink or juice. This makes me question: why drink vodka if it has to be mixed with other things in order for it to taste pleasant, and actually allow a person to drink it without having an urge to spit it out or vomit? I think that non-alcoholic drinks are always nicer than alcoholic drinks, as the alcoholic drinks that people usually consider nicest are normally mixed with non-alcoholic drinks to make it bearable.
I am not suggesting that drinking alcohol is wrong, as I do also drink, however I have seen people spend more money on alcohol than food on a daily basis, causing them to ration their food yet drink more than they can handle. This is where I think the line for drinking should be drawn: when it starts to affect your everyday life and cause you to prioritise alcohol ahead of other things that are actually essential for life. I only drink during some social events and drink as much as if I were drinking any non-alcoholic drink. I also don’t understand why people like getting drunk if they cannot remember anything that happened while they were drunk. Do we not want to remember a good time? Surely we do not even need alcohol to have a good time. My experiences of witnessing drunkenness has actually caused me to reduce the amount I drink. I know some people who are not alcoholics, yet they often drink such excessive volumes of alcohol in front of other people that they would drink anything if someone told them it contained alcohol, even if they were not sure what substances it contained and did not know if the solution they were drinking would harm their life.
Of course I have not covered people who get drunk to ease depression or just to get them through their life, as this area is a lot more sensitive and requires much more thought. Maybe I will look into it in a future post, but I hope that no one I know will ever be in such a position for me to look into. As for the most common reasons why people get drunk, I think I have barely touched the surface and everyone will have different reasons as to why they decide to get drunk, most of which I will probably never understand.