Is Alcohol Inherently Immoral?

The other day in Physics my teacher gave a brief lecture and then held a discussion debating whether or not alcohol is inherently immoral. Don’t ask me why this was occurring in Physics – I think it’s because my teacher has a penchant for philosophy – and I was simply thankful that we were talking about this rather than impulse and momentum.

Now, alcohol. Personally, I abhor alcohol. I will never drink it. I know it may be difficult to carry out that claim, but to be frank, I am staunchly against alcohol, and for many reasons that I will discuss.

However, is it actually wrong? Is the act of consuming alcohol – merely that act, on its own – immoral? I had to think tremendously hard on this one and force my brain to get past my own bias, and after doing so, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, alcohol is not inherently immoral.

This is because people possess the willpower to control their consumption of alcohol. People who restrict their drinking to social events, and do all the right things, such as choosing a designated driver, calling for a cab when one of their friends is intoxicated, etc. show that merely drinking alcohol is not a basically bad thing. In fact, if all people drank responsibly, limited their desires, and behaved virtuously, I would be all for alcohol.

But they don’t.

Statistics show that an abundant amount of people abuse alcohol. Some individuals become so depressed and angry and cannot seek a healthy outlet for these enervating or exacerbating emotions that they resort to drowning their sorrow in sake. Others who drink not only hurt themselves but hurt others – a myriad of innocent individuals are damaged irrevocably or killed due to others who were driving while drunk (she is one of the many examples, but be warned, the images are graphic).

Alcohol lowers individuals' inhibitions, causing them to make decisions they will later regret. Never drink from a punch bowl or from an already opened bottle or can at a party.

Throughout the nineteenth century people fought for Prohibition, which would cause the sale, making, or transportation of alcohol to become illegal. These people believed that alcohol acted as a bane in society, and cited reasons such as how men tended to abuse their wives and children after consuming alcohol at saloons. They achieved their goal when the eighteenth amendment was passed in 1919, but due to corrupt crime bosses illegally selling alcohol and the fact that people were still in possession of alcohol despite the ban, the twenty-first amendment was passed in 1933, repealing the eighteenth amendment and putting people back where they started.

My Physics teacher stated that as long as people are able to be independent of their desire to drink – meaning that they would be fine if they stopped drinking altogether – then it is not a bad thing. While in some cases that is true, in most, it is not, which is shown through the what happened after the eighteenth amendment was passed. As an idealist and an optimist, I would love to believe that everyone can effectively exercise caution when it comes to alcohol consumption, but that’s simply untrue.

Even science exemplifies why people should not drink. This source and this source reveal how harmful alcohol is to the brain, and the reason why the legal drinking age is 21 is that the adolescent mind is especially vulnerable to the damage alcohol inflicts, as the brain is still developing while one is a teenager. This is one of the most major reasons why I have decided not to drink, because I value every brain cell and association area I possess.

So, is alcohol inherently immoral? Maybe not. But the pleasure people experience because of it is not nearly worth the lives people lose to it.

Thoughts? My apologies for not posting a lot lately, I’ve been busy (as always, I suppose) and school has been tough lately – but I’m hanging in there! Hope to hear from you guys, and hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the weekend!

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Is Alcohol Inherently Immoral?

  1. Dienna

    You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, Thomas! When you get older there are going to be people who’ll pressure you and make you feel like you’re “uncool” for not joining in on the drinking, but it’s their own insecurity talking. People who don’t drink make drinkers uncomfortable, so drinkers feel they need to bring non-drinkers down to their level.

    I hardly drink, and people have made fun of me for that (and even when I went through a period of abstaining from alcohol I got a lot of obnoxious commentary from people about it) and if I never have another glass of wine again I’ll live. But there are people out there who can’t function without liquor in their systems, and I find it just plain sad.

    • Thanks Dienna! You’re right, the fact that they feel the need to pressure you and poke fun at you for not drinking shows their insecurity. I respect your ability to remain abstinent from alcohol despite their taunts and jeers, and I’m glad you’re aware of how much better off you are. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. For most people having a drink or two of alcohol is not immoral. Pressuring other people to consume alcohol is immoral. “Drinking to excess” is immoral. There are some people that cannot morally drink at all. Late night talk show host Craig Ferguson is a case in point:

    Title: Craig Ferguson Talks About Life As A Recovering Alcoholic

  3. I have to say I entirely agree with you on this issue. Personally, I’ve tried alcohol before, but I don’t like it and I have no desire to drink in my life (even if I do have a high alcohol tolerance…) It’s not something I find enjoyable. But I also don’t think that it’s bad for people to enjoy it, but that’s just it. Enjoy it, not abuse it for all it’s worth to the point where they become dependent on it or it makes them cause harm to other people.

    My physics teacher has a penchant for philosophy, as well, and is always sharing her life philosophy with us. We even read a speech by David Foster Wallace one day in that class (I need to get the book, it really is fabulous).

    But anyway, I’m glad you posted this, it was really interesting. c: I’ve actually been productive recently… Oh by the way, you had midterms, right? How did they go? It’s funny how I got As in over half of mine, then completely bombed Physics and Calc… Dx

    • Exactly. Enjoy it, but don’t abuse it. Exactly.

      Oh, interesting. I have marked his work as to-read as well…

      As for midterms, for some reason I didn’t have any this year – which is strange, because my courses are more difficult than they were last year. I think I have a history midterm sometime this month but I’m not sure. As for yours, congrats on those As! Don’t feel bad about Physics and Calc… I would’ve bombed those two too. You have time to pull your grades up!

      Thanks for reading and commenting as always. (:

  4. Pingback: Craig Ferguson: Recovering Alcoholic « Scientific Awakening

  5. I don’t think it’s immoral even though, like you’ve said, the results of drinking could be immoral actions. Having a bit of champagne on New Year’s Eve isn’t immoral. A glass of wine toasted in celebration of something isn’t immoral. I just don’t think the actual act of drinking can be immoral unless someone intentionally drinks so that he/she can be disinhibited enough to kill or hurt people. And I don’t think any item itself can be immoral. I think you have attach some kind of intention onto things first. Like a poisonous plant isn’t immoral unless someone touches it. A bee isn’t immoral just because it has a sting.

    I personally don’t like the taste or smell of alcohol and I’ve found that as long as I’m around mature people, they’re very respectful of my decision to not drink. If anything, I’d say pressuring other people to drink isn’t very moral! From your post, I understand that you hate alcohol, but would you support banning alcohol altogether?

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking post, Thomas!

    • Hm, while I see your point, I think the act of consuming alcohol can be immoral even if someone drinks enough to kill or hurt people unintentionally. I’m sure when one is sober they wouldn’t get into a car accident or abuse their family, and I’m sure that people don’t say things like “well, I feel like killing someone on the road, time to drink!” Sometimes people drink too much and before they know it they’ve done something irrevocable and it’s too late.

      I know that it would be impossible to actually ban alcohol altogether, but if I had a choice to or if I had to choose between keeping it legal or banning it forever, I’d ban it. Like I said in my post its negative effects outweigh its positive effects, as people can attain the pleasure it provides from numerous other sources that are less potentially lethal.

      You’re welcome, and thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  6. Cara

    Yet again an interesting post Thomas. Sorry I don’t reply to all of them but I’m a faithful reader now:)
    I don’t have anything new to add to the subject but I have seen (as many people have) so much bad come from so much alcohol. Broken homes, people dying from drunk drivers, and so many other bad complications. I think one of the main problems is that it’s seen as something as a rite of passage and people who have tendencies to be addicted to alcohol probably feel the pressure to give in. In college campuses it is so prevalent, they practically have water fountains with booze in it. (I am of course joking, this is not true!) Well anyhow it’s gives me something to think over, and ask people. It feels easier just to do away with it completely, at least in my own life.

    • It’s okay Cara, don’t apologize – I appreciate that you take the time to read these posts tremendously. (:

      I hadn’t thought of the rite of passage thing before, that’s a good point… now that I think of it, I remember my brother saying something along the lines of that he felt left out because all of our older cousins were drinking at our Thanksgiving party, because they were of age and we weren’t. If only people could see beyond the social pressure of drinking and understand how prominent the consequences could be… I agree 100% with the last sentence of your comment, it feels easier to simply do away with it completely in my life too.

  7. Pingback: Does Alcohol And Exercise Mix?

  8. I ,too, would never drink alcohol both as a personal choice and that my parents have forbid it, and I’ve seen with my own eyes why. To be honest I hate it, what harm it does to the body(when taken in excess) even if taken moderately. As for exercising restraint, I can only guess that it’s easier said than done for many people. But I were to be fair I would agree that it would be moral if taken responsibly, and immoral otherwise.
    I suppose one should take alcohol like one takes medicine, that is, in moderation and not abuse it, but it would do everyone well to stay away from it completely. What’s really stupid, especially with teenagers, is that some actually believe that drinking conveys the message that they are ‘cool’ when in reality they’re the opposite.
    You shouldn’t apologize, it’s good to know that you’ve got your priorities straight :)

    • I never understood why some people thought that drinking alcohol acted as a symbol of style or coolness… to be honest, people who drink alcohol to look cool really look a little stupid, at least to me. Teenagers should definitely stay away from alcohol no matter what, not just because of the possible moral consequences but because their bodies aren’t ready for it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Devina!

  9. While there are negative side effects of alcohol, there have been proven benefits of it as well. Certain kinds of wine have been shown to be good for heart health.

    I think it’s best to treat alcohol like you would any drink. You wouldn’t sit there and down soda after soda, so why should you do it with alcohol? I will drink alcohol on occasion, but it’s usually when I’m out with friends and it’s one or two glasses here and there.

    • That’s a good point. Though the beneficial aspects of alcohol can be acquired through other sources as well, and those sources are probably less expensive and more easily attainable.

      I suppose that’s true, but with alcohol the risks are increased when you drink more than you’re supposed to. When you drink an excess amount of soda, you get hyper and crash, and you get unhealthy, but with alcohol your judgment is impaired and your senses are dulled, which could lead to many irrevocable consequences (and not just to the person doing the drinking). However, with someone who drinks responsibly like you do, then it’s permissible.

  10. However, if the binge drinking behavior is consistent and
    frequent (meaning, more than once per week) then that person may have an alcoholism problem.
    The final decision is, of course, the patients. Therefore,
    the answer is yes. By means of an extended care plan, the
    sufferer will continue to get assistance and support in the alcohol rehab centre right after becoming
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    In a hurting family, that is the last thing that is needed, hurt compounded upon hurt.
    The first step in rehab is detoxification.

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