Socially Accepted Drug Abuse – Is Alcohol a Drug?

As a general rule, people in our society are generally quite harsh when it comes to judging drug users and addicts. People with drug abuse problems are often disregarded and treated as if they were the bottom of the barrel of society.

And yet, despite this, people remain almost entirely accepting of the abuse of one particular drug: alcohol. The widespread acceptance and use of alcohol are so normal that many people don’t even recognize the fact that it is a drug.

Not only is alcohol a drug, but it’s also one of the most dangerous ones out there. This article will talk about the social stigma of drug use and whether or not alcohol is considered a drug in the same way as something like heroin.

Drug Stigma and Social Acceptance

What is it that causes people to accept some drugs and demonize others?

A logical assumption might be that one demonizes drugs that are more dangerous and destructive. This isn’t the modus operandi in our society, though, since alcohol remains one of the most dangerous drugs available – certainly one of the most likely to cause violent or abusive blackouts – and yet remains incredibly popular.

Consider a drug with the opposite sort of effects: cannabis. The idea of cannabis causing an unexpected, violent blackout is almost laughable. Regardless, cannabis remained illegal for nearly a century. Fortunately, due to the recent medical research surrounding the plant,  cannabis, many countries and institutions are rushing to promote legalization due to the incredible projects that can be made from selling medical cannabis.

Perhaps, then, we should judge substances based on how they affect our health. It makes some sense to keep people protected from drugs they might unwittingly consume.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case either. Alcohol is one of the most unhealthy substances on the planet and alcohol-related diseases and health defects cause a startling number of deaths every year.

So Why Is Alcohol Socially Acceptable?

So why is alcohol legal and socially acceptable? It’s a dangerous, harmful drug that can cause serious addiction and fatal withdrawal symptoms and, yet, nearly everybody drinks at least once in a while.

One of the reasons is that alcohol has been a celebratory cultural staple for thousands of years in countries all across the globe. Imbibed occasionally and with festive intent, alcohol can enhance sociability and loosen up people who struggle with anxiety.

Alcohol also has several religious applications. Though Catholics may view excess alcohol consumption as sinful, the occasional sip of wine may be considered a sort of sacrament.

Alcohol is also important in traditional medicine. It works well as an antiseptic and pain reliever and also serves as the base of most medicinal herbal tinctures.

But perhaps the most intriguing observation is that law-abiding citizens – those who refuse to question the laws and guidelines – believe that alcohol is socially acceptable simply because it’s legal.

When alcohol was illegal during the prohibition of the 1920s, alcohol-related crimes and violence surged to the highest levels that they’d ever been. Any time a substance in high demand is made illegal, the number of crimes associated with it will increase.

All in all, alcohol is socially acceptable, at least in part, because it is a part of human history. Alcohol has, and always will be around humans wherever they settle.


Alcohol might be one of the world’s most dangerous and addictive drugs, but it’s also one of the most socially acceptable. The reasons for this are many and nuanced. However, a healthy appreciation for alcohol can allow someone to enjoy it without their usage becoming problematic.

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