Society, alcohol and drugs
Humans are social beings and socialising is a key component of our culture. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, celebrating with family, watching a football match, seeing a band or going to a movie – there is often alcohol involved.
And remember, you need to be 18 years or older to drink alcohol.
We raise our glasses to acknowledge the relationship we have with others and to wish them good health.
Friends, family and community are such an important influence on our emotional well-being. We want to be around them, to do things with them - to feel included.
It can be difficult to avoid alcohol in a social setting, so it’s important to understand its influence on our own and other people’s behaviour.
Alcohol and drugs can:
- lower inhibitions
- lower self-awareness
- reduce our ability to recognise social cues and body language
- impair decision-making
- reduce our ability to communicate and understand others
- make some people more introverted/unhappy and others more aggressive
- make us too focused on one outcome or thing.
How can you tell if someone’s inhibitions or self-awareness are lowered, or if they’re making decisions they wouldn’t make if they were sober?
If you don’t really know the person then you can’t tell, not easily. To be on the safe side, it’s best to assume they are if their behaviour indicates that they have been drinking. You can also wait until the person is sober and see if they respond in the same way.
So many feelings
Alcohol and drugs heighten emotions - they can influence things that we say and do and how we respond to other people.
- I love you like a brother from another mother
- I feel like I can tell you anything, and I think I will
- You’re sooooo pretty can I touch your hair?
An emotional release is like having that ugly cry when watching as Rose, desperately clutching that flimsy floating door, reluctantly lets go of Jack’s hand. He slips down into the freezing water and follows the ripped-open Titantic to the bottom of the ocean. She’ll never forget him, and neither will we. Love can be tragic.
Rose and Jack are characters in the movie Titanic (1997), an epic fictional love story based on an actual maritime disaster.
Watching a sad movie can make you feel better; it’s weird, but it’s the emotional release.
Substances like alcohol and drugs are also often used to tap into and influence emotions.
Alcohol affects how your emotions are regulated. We can become more talkative and self-assured, less inhibited – swinging from generally happy to silly or reckless, or discontented to miserable or destructive - depending on how much alcohol is consumed.
We’re not ourselves when we’ve been drinking or taking drugs. Our inner worlds are confused and blurry, we have less control over our body, and our outer worlds may be influenced by situations or people we might ignore when sober and our behaviour and emotions aren’t compromised.
Movies, TV and advertising often depicts consuming alcohol and other substances as a common, even desirable part of dating and developing intimate relationships.
- you’re not doing romance properly if you don’t ‘set the mood’ or ‘wine and dine’
- drink a particular brand of alcohol and you’ll become fun or attractive or both
- a few stiff drinks and you’ll have the courage to go talk to your new crush.
Be mindful of the messaging. If it’s advertising, then the point is to influence you to buy a particular brand. If it’s TV or a movie, these scenes aim to manipulate your emotions.
Remember Jack and Rose? So sad so tragic.
We buy into the emotional manipulation of that Rose and Jack scene because it makes us feel something deep.
Wanting, needing and desiring to feel something is elemental to being human.
But it’s one thing to get that fix from a movie or TV show. It’s something quite different to use alcohol or drugs to try and find that elevated emotional place.
Consent laws and rights are often glossed over, even ignored, to make a movie or TV scene featuring alcohol more dramatic or humourous. In reality, some of the behaviour in these scenes should result in criminal charges.