An article in The Guardian (3 April 2014) titled Guess What? Going To The Pub Could Help Solve Our Drink-Related Problems suggests that the increasing popularity of drinking at home is a significant factor in the increase in alcoholism. The suggestion is that this is a far less social form of drinking, especially if individuals are drinking alone, and it is therefore more likely to lead to problems. Of course, it would be ludicrous to suggest that a drop in the number of people drinking at pubs and the like is to blame for alcoholism, but it may be one influencing factor.
Do Pubs Encourage Social Drinking?
Drinking problems are on the rise in the UK and part of the problem may be that there is a lack of social pressure to consume alcohol sensibly. In the past, attempts were made to curb drinking by raising prices in bars and restricting pub opening hours, but this did not have the desired effect. The fact is that people are now more likely to drink at home, which has only made things worse. This could be because there is an absence of the positive role models of social drinkers that can be found in pubs.
For most people, going to the pub is a social event. The emphasis is on having a chat with friends, and alcohol is just there as a prop. Social drinkers might only have one alcoholic beverage for the whole of the evening because the object for them is not to get inebriated. People in Britain have been using pubs as gathering places of centuries, so it is part of the culture. The problem with drinking at home is that individuals are more likely to be doing this to enjoy the effect of being inebriated. This would mean that they are far more likely to damage their body and mind, as well as engage in all types of problem behaviour.
One of the other issues with drinking at home is that each person is in charge of their own measures – a glass of wine at home can be twice the size of a pub measure. This means that they are likely to drink a lot more than they would do at the pub. It is also cheaper to drink this way, which can be another excuse to drink more.
What is Social Drinking?
People who drink socially rarely get inebriated. It means sticking to the recommended levels for safe consumption. In the UK, this is staying below 21 units of alcohol per week for men, and below 14 units for women. Here one unit is equal to a half pint of standard beer, a pub glass of wine, or a pub shot of spirits – these measures are a lot less than what people normally pour for themselves at home. Drinking socially means not only sticking to the safe number of units per week but also spreading these units over the whole week – this means not drinking all of this over the course of a weekend.
Should People be Encouraged to Go to the Pub?
It may be better for people to drink in a pub rather than at home, but this is definitely not any type of magical panacea. For those already addicted to alcohol, the only real option they have is to stop drinking completely. In this situation, spending more time in the pub would definitely not be a good idea. This suggestion may be more appropriate for mild problem drinkers not yet addicted, so they can be around positive role models and not drinking alone.