Don't get me wrong. I was not an "I will never touch another drop of alcohol again" quitter. I have, if the mood strikes me just right, ordered the occasional beer or cider...but that's kind of rare. I've even just went out to drink on a few occasions. But, for the most part, I'm pretty dry...and that leads to some interesting observations:
- I'm more aware than ever that alcohol is a drug. It's a drug just like marijuana is a drug, like cocaine is a drug, like opiates are drugs. The only real difference is that, in our country, alcohol is sanctioned, while the others are not. As a result of this sanction, most people see it as just another product (albeit one which makes you feel funny). But no: drug city.
- As a result of fully realizing alcohol is a drug, how our society sanctions this drug use becomes increasingly funny. A bar, for instance, is a specific place set aside for people to do a drug. Eating out is often accompanied by "and would you like a drug with that?" There are billboards, television ads, and celebrity endorsements for a recreational drug. Things I used to consider normal now seem really weird as a result of this observation.
- This, as a result, makes the behavior of drug users seem quite strange. Many people order cheap beer, well liquor, or combinations thereof. These people now seem like "I just wanna get high and have no other concerns. Taste? Fun? Sorry...not interested." And we cater to these people! When vaporized alcohol becomes a serious thing, this tendency will increase.
- As a musician, though, my main creative outlet is playing for people who come to a business to do drugs. Yeah, I could play the occasional coffee shop open mic session, but honestly, people don't really go to coffee shops to listen to music. There might not be much reward to playing in bars, but there's no tangible reward to playing in not-bars.
- This makes me think interesting things about why people go to drug-oriented businesses to listen to music. Does that say something about the general public's desire for art? That they can't really handle watching art unless they're under the influence? Or is it just one of those mystery-of-capitalism things?
- None of this, for the record, has made me anti-alcohol or anti-bar. If people are making themselves happy, more power to them...as long as they aren't hurting anyone else or themselves.
- If anything, thinking of alcohol as a drug makes me more supportive of drug legalization efforts. That we favor alcohol but say other drugs are bad is just kind of random. Hell, if I were emperor, I would legalize everything. Even battlefield and all...plus I wonder how different it would be playing a show in a meth bar or an LSD bar. Would a heroin bar be a better place to play than a valium bar? The mind boggles. Plus this would have the added benefit of undermining the industrial prison complex and the gung ho police, which would, for the record, be a good thing.
- While I don't get people to hang out with me all that much anyway, when they do, I notice that, as I'm drinking, they tend to cut down on their own drinking. I've tried to make it plain that my desire to be sober shouldn't impact them at all, but inevitably, people who come out with me tend to drink less.