Normalizing Alcohol (Should We Normalize Alcohol?)

Critics of alcohol ads often argue that it’s normalizing alcohol drinking. So what’s wrong with normalizing drinking?

There’s nothing at all wrong with normalizing alcohol unless a person’s goal is eliminating it. The hatchet-wielding Carrie Nation would have opposed normalizing drinking. The Prohibition Party (yes, it still exists) would oppose it. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) – it, too, still exists – would oppose it. And well-funded anti-alcohol activist groups are today loudly opposing the normalization of drinking.

Normalizing drinking is nothing more than recognizing the fact that most people drink. That they do so in moderation. And it as a natural and normal part of life. Millions of other people. Normalizing drinking is presenting it as acceptable if it isn’t abused.

The term is actually a poor one. That’s because normalizing drinking doesn’t make something that’s not normal into something that’s normal. It simply recognizes drinking as normal.

What’s the alternative to normalizing alcohol?

Temperance writers have shown us the alternative to normalization. It’s to portray drinking as these.

    • normalizing alcoholSign of weakness.
    • Threat to personal and family happiness.
    • Symptom of personal problems.
    • Behavior that’s undesirable.
    • Cause of crime.
    • Symptom of societal decline.
    • Dangerous threat to health.
    • Threat to morality.

Today’s Temperance Movement

normalizing alcoholAnti-alcohol writers today tend to “de-normalize” alcohol by equating use with misuse. They equate such misuse with many personal and social problems. They also widely de-normalize drinking by stigmatizing it. And it by equating it with illegal drugs.

In short, the effort is to make drinking unacceptable, to marginalize alcohol, and stigmatize those who drink it.

Normalization is Desirable

But groups that normalize drinking have fewer alcohol problems. That’s compared to those that “de-normalize” it. In some societies almost everyone drinks and they do so frequently. Yet they have few problems. Such groups include Italians, Jews, Greeks, Spaniards, and Portuguese. There are three keys to their success.

    1. They view alcohol itself as neutral. It’s neither good nor bad.  It’s how it’s used that’s important.
    2. People can either abstain from alcohol or use it in moderation. But they can’t abuse alcohol for any reason at any time.
    3. Young people learn within the home that alcohol must never be abused.

All of these groups normalize alcohol. It greatly benefits them and their members.

Normalizing Alcohol