You have doubtlessly seen those “Please Drink Responsibly” ads put out by the big liquor companies. What you will never see in what some view as a self-serving and cynically hypocritical public relations campaign is “Please Drink Responsibly in Order to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Alcohol Abuse .”
Rather than placing the “Drink Responsibly” tagline in the smallest print found on the large advertisements for alcohol often competing with the fashion industry for the most available space throughout magazines and periodicals, what if those big companies were to commit to spending at least as much as they spend on the “Drink Responsibly” advertising campaign on actual involvement in exhibiting what that directive really means. Such as these marketing devices by Brown-Forman that put a little steak behind the sizzle. Brown-Forman is a liquor company that should considered one of the leaders in the industry when it comes to actually putting more thought and emphasis on the concept of encouraging their customers to consume their products with a fair amount of responsibility. Even more impressively is that Brown-Forman actually has a multiple pages on their web site that reveal a rare self-awareness of their need to be actively engaged in regulation of the alcohol industry in order to put some real muscle behind the flaccid Please Drink Responsibly public relations campaign that is, in the end, nothing more nor less than a simple advertisement or commercial intended to sell product.
At the very least, American companies making positively obscene amounts of money producing a product with, let’s face it, absolutely no positive impact on the health, cognitive functioning or emotional state of its users could take half a percent of the money they make on any given day to create a web site similar to this European example of what informing the public about drinking responsibly entails. Cynicism aside, there is a distinct link between the potential for abusing alcohol and an authentic understanding of what drinking responsibly actually means.
For instance, what would be your own personal response to this query: when you are at a restaurant or bar with friends, where would you place the line dividing responsible drinking and abuse of alcoholic beverages? It might seem rather obvious now, but in heat of the moment the obvious can become murkier and murkier . Because the situation of being in a bar or restaurant is more relaxed than other social situations where alcohol flows freely, one may also unconsciously relax their definitions of responsible consumption and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that is the point at which the alcohol industry should be depended upon to stand behind their empty slogan encouraging their customers to drink responsibly as well as the point at which they are most likely to do nothing other than laugh at the tepid institution of that public relations campaign.
Drinking responsibly in a bar or restaurant situation when out with friends requires only the following: instead of ordering drink after drink after drink, just order a few. Make sure that you eat more than you drink and put the brakes on drinking the moment you or someone else notices that you are talking louder or with less apprehension. As soon as liquor enters the social discourse, consciously start and continue to ask yourself whether or not your behavior is something you will be embarrassed about tomorrow. If so, then gently inform the server that you have had enough. That is drinking responsibly. That is also pretty much an impossibility when the urge to drink is stimulated by peer pressure, self-esteem problems, impulsivity issues symptomatic of personality disorders and the myriad flaws in character and judgment that drive people to do really stupid things in order to fit in.
The alcohol industry’s Drink Responsibly marketing campaign is at its lamest in situations where the consumption is not among friends but takes place within a pub populated by one. Since the sadness and pathetic circumstances driving overconsumption of alcohol while alone is by definition unlikely to be contained merely by the accidental viewing of the small print on liquor containers urging the customer to Drink Responsibly, what we have here is essentially an example of passing the buck. Like a conglomeration of every actor who ever played Pontius Pilate, the alcohol industry is metaphorically washing its hands of culpability and leaving the act of drinking responsibly entirely up to the person so devoid of willpower that eventual abuse is nearly a guarantee. So what’s a person to do?
The first thing to consider before you find yourself drinking alone at home is that you may be in no emotional condition to determine the difference between drinking responsibly and abusing alcohol. Those final moments before you give into temptation to drink is your last chance to focus on what is driving you to drown your sorrows without the intrusive effect of alcohol on your cognitive functioning. If you must drink by yourself, then place a limit on consumption: two beers or just one glass of wine or one homemade margarita. This is what is known as responsibly drinking when alone. It may not actually qualify as responsible, but it’s as close as you are likely to get.
Responsible drinking often means taking an honest–and potentially unpleasant–account of your mental, emotional and physical states. Consumption of massive quantities of beer, wine, frozen cocktails or hard liquor taken straight with the dawning realization that your liquor of choice is doing nothing to make you any happier is a sign that you may be about to lapse into a state of alcohol abuse so chronic that you will only rarely be capable of making a fair assessment of what it means to drink responsibly.