I believe it is essential to acknowledge the pleasures of addictive substances as well as their destructive effects. Certainly many pleasures are associated with alcohol use, and there are even documented health benefits.
Of course, once “use” becomes “abuse” the positive effects are greatly outweighed by the dangers, as will certainly become clear. One may wonder how humans began drinking alcohol in the first place. Historians believe that early man may have seen animals eating fermented fruits and noticed the dramatic effects on their behavior.
Some adventurous must have decided to find out exactly what was making that deer stagger around. From there, it was probably not long before people were producing alcoholic beverages as a highly developed skill, or even an art.
For many thousands of years, alcoholic beverages and the techniques needed to produce them have been woven into the fabric of human civilization. Along with the historical importance of alcohol itself, drinking has been the based for social institutions that continue to be important today.
Gathering places around social drinking can doubtingly provide emotional benefits, and any genuine experience of happiness or relaxation has physiological benefits as well. Furthermore, the medical as well as the popular view of alcohol has been altered somewhat by studies showing that moderate drinking can reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Although this benefit has been associated with changes in blood chemistry, it may derive as much from lowered stress levels as from any biochemical effects. Since prehistoric times, alcohol has played a varied but extremely important part in human experience. On the one hand, it has been used in sacraments and religious ceremonies as a way of getting in touch with the gods.
On the other hand, alcohol has helped people feel closer to one another, In its dual role as both sacred and profane, alcohol could be compared with fire as a structural principle in our lives. And, again like fire, it can easily get out of control.