Is Alcohol Stealing Your Spirit?

From the glamorous portrayal in the media to the cultural normalization of frequent drinking, alcohol often disguises its detrimental effects behind the façade of social acceptability. How has this entity of synthetic spirits overshadowed so much of humanity’s soul?

By Anna Hugoboom5 min read
Pexels/Юлиана Маринина

Savoring liquid spirits is akin to being transported in a time machine, passing over centuries of tradition, toil, celebration, rage, delirious happiness, and depressive despair. You taste the generations of debate, whether this borrowed sense of spirit encased in its glass shrine is beneficial to mankind…or not.

In a world where cocktails are a must-have adornment for every social gathering and wine flows freely at celebrations, it’s easy to overlook the subtle impacts of alcohol on our lives, especially as women. But these impacts are significant.

A Kind of Spirit

Philosophers from Aristotle to Saint Thomas Aquinas to Nietzsche have surmised there are three elements of spirit existing in the universe: vegetable spirit, animal spirit, and human spirit. Sort of a life-cycle pyramid, and not unlike the food chain, vegetable spirit was considered the lowest and human spirit the highest, since it contains cognitive reason and free will. Animal spirit is higher than vegetable because it has self-movement, but in the natural order, it’s still lower than human spirit because it does not possess free will or cognitive reason but acts only by instinct and the need to survive. Vegetable spirit was considered the lowest form of life because it doesn’t have reason or self-movement beyond its ability to grow and be moved. However, with the amount of destruction that alcohol – a liquid substance derived from a plant – has activated in the manipulation of human desire, it would seem that this lowlife spirit has asserted itself as a force to be reckoned with, nonetheless. 

The term “spirits” as a name for alcohol derives from the Latin word “spiritus,” meaning “breath” or “essence.” This term was associated with the distillation process, where the alcohol vapor was believed to contain the spirit or essence of the original substance. This gave rise to the idea of a spirit being released and then captured. Indeed, drinking these spirits does put you in a state of compromise due to its influence. Poetically, you could say that this spirit – or vengeful ghost – has wreaked havoc on man, its captors. 

When the explorers, trappers, and settlers pioneered the New World of the Americas, they introduced the Native Americans to their spirits, which they called “firewater” because of the fiery feeling when swallowed, the heat in their stomach after drinking, and the inflamed mannerisms it caused. The Native Americans believed the bottles contained entrapped spirits embodied in a liquid form that sought to dominate the minds of men, yet they were so addicted to the pleasure attained from the drink they continued to give themselves over to it. 

A Mind of Its Own

For thousands of years, alcohol has taken control of cultures and manipulated the minds of men and women alike, tempting them to give in to their darkest thoughts and forbidden desires. When given over to the strength of drink, a man (or woman) might seem like a completely different person, as if under a strong influence that’s affected the mind as well as the physical body. And while alcoholic spirits have played a memorable role in the celebration of life’s milestones, such as weddings, birthdays, engagements, reunions, and various accomplishments, it also has been the silent and lurking culprit to blame for murders, theft, rape, domestic abuse, financial waste, and scandal.

Drunkenness has been a root factor in the loss of women’s virtue and of men’s masculinity and honor. It has broken families, irritated men to lose their jobs, committed manslaughter, encouraged infidelity and child abuse, and started riots. Moreover, it steals light from men’s souls and their compass for living, leaving them sad, lonely, confused, and bitter as they aimlessly and angrily wander through life.

How many self-made life coaches and public figures have you heard of who came from a broken family and abusive background stemming from alcoholic influence? From Tony Robbins to Brooke Shields, plenty of celebrities have emerged from a painful upbringing made traumatic by alcohol. You might ask, how has humanity allowed itself to be so enslaved to this substance that can so easily spirit away your cognitive reason? 

Joviality or Dependency?

Fast-forward to the present day, where social interactions seemingly revolve around drinking alcohol. The concept of “liquid courage” or “social lubricant” is sometimes applied innocently to someone who is nervous or tense as something to take the edge off, but in general, it has created a type of anxious codependency in men and women alike and has preyed on their innermost insecurities, only making them feebler in mind as well as in body. An adult who can’t handle being in a crowd or meeting new people without a drink in hand is like an overgrown child who needs a lovey toy. And the social pressure to always indulge doesn’t help.

The wine o’clock millennials are notorious for laughing off their alcoholic problems. One study showed that, among those who meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder or alcoholics, a whopping 31.5% were millennials. Factors that play a part in the increased stress levels of this generation include 24/7 news access, smartphones, constant technology advances, social media, college debt, work stress, and financial uncertainty. All these are dynamics unknown to previous generations. These added stressors have played a huge role in increased alcohol use and abuse. 

Maybe not all, but a large portion of Gen Z has learned from their millennial elders and stepped back from the alcohol. With Gen Zers becoming more and more sober curious, alcohol abuse has thankfully declined. Maybe this is due to learning from the mistakes of those who came before, as well as them being a health-conscious and “balanced-wellness” generation. Gen Z is much more concerned with age preservation and protein count while exploring workout routines and hopping athleisure stores. Alcohol doesn’t really fit in with that “aesthetic,” and while millennials are trying to extend their Dry January to months beyond, Gen Z is determined to beat their legacy in looking and feeling better than ever. Granted, inflation has also helped the dry action, forcing many to budget out alcohol in attempts to save money.

Health Risks Unpacked

According to the World Health Organization, no level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health. Even if you’re not a raging alcoholic or a dedicated wine o’clocker, alcohol consumption in any amount comes with numerous health risks. We’ll unpack just a few examples:

  • An Oxford study showed that alcohol causes the brain to age and shrink faster than the normal rate of a person who doesn’t consume alcohol. 

  • To quote Harvard, alcohol consumption in any amount increases the risk for breast cancer – and the higher the dose, the greater the risk. 

  • Fertility is heavily impacted by alcohol consumption. It can cause infertility, loss of sperm motility, miscarriages, and birth defects in the case of pregnancy. 

  • Because it’s dehydrating, alcohol causes your skin to age and wrinkle faster and depletes the natural beauty and glow that would otherwise be easy to keep longer. 

  • The biggest problem alcohol causes for most is insomnia. Alcohol affects your sleep by disrupting your sleep patterns and preventing you from drifting into deep sleep or simply staying asleep. In turn, this affects your weight, your fertility, your skin beauty, your energy levels, and your mental health elasticity.

Mental Health and Booze

Speaking of which, apart from the whole host of physical effects, there is the very important subject of mental health and alcohol. Everyone knows alcohol is a compromising substance, and those who pretend they aren’t affected by it are simply in denial. Some people get tired, some people become goofy or flirty, and others get sad or mean – which are you?

Alcohol interferes with the neurological communication pathways, and it can affect the way the brain looks and functions. These disruptions affect your mood and behavior, and quickly cross the line from physiological distress to mental depression, which negatively impacts your mind and spirit – not just your bodily mood. It becomes easy to lose your own spirit, your sense of strength and peace of mind.

Alcohol consumption brings a higher risk of depression and anxiety, as well as addiction, leading to problems in relationships, marriage and family life, and your job, just to name a few. It can also cause severe mental illness disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. If alcohol has the power to corrupt some of the most important factors in a person’s life, you would think most would know to treat it like poison, or at least something to restrict to small doses. But that’s the problem: Alcohol is highly addictive, and, with its wide accessibility and acceptability in society, it’s easy to get on its wrong side if you’re not in the right frame of mind or spirit. If you’re hurting, it’s understandable (though not excusable) that you would want something to take the pain away, or at least distract your feelings for a short while. But alcohol is not a healthy or effective coping mechanism. 

Counting the Cost of Drinking

In addition to feeling better mentally and emotionally, weight management is a different ballgame when you eliminate booze. Every health expert and fitness coach will say to minimize or completely eradicate alcohol from your diet to see physical results. 

While alcohol may be less of a money pit than drugs, it still certainly adds up not only in empty calories but also in dollars, too. Cutting this out will not only help your mental health and your weight management, but also your spending habits and wallet! 

The number of empty dollars spent on this liquified depressant is beyond insane, especially when you consider it has no nutritional value and no investment quality. But when booze becomes a therapist, an emotional support pet, a virtual reality distraction, and a romantic partner substitute, I suppose it’s covering multiple bases, and you can understand where those dependents are reasoning from, if they’re reasoning at all. The problem is the unhappy soul who is chained to the bottled spirit is only digging a deeper hole in dark depression as well as their pocketbook. 

Tasty Alternatives

Who says you have to taste booze to enjoy the sip? A well-shaken mocktail is still a treat, and mixology doesn’t have to lose all its charm when losing the spirits. Ideas for delicious combinations abound in autumn mocktail recipessummer mocktail recipes, and winter mocktails. Want a mock mojito? You’re covered, so sip back and enjoy!

This way, you can enjoy the fun flutes and fancy glasses with colors and bubbles, topped with touches of dainty decorations, all without “giving up” on the experience. You can just skip the higher tab, the greater calories, and the subsequent hangover. Have fun with drinks and mocktail hour without it impairing your vision or wasting your intelligence and class, and be able to rise and shine early the next day without nausea or a headache! It truly is the best of both worlds.

Closing Thoughts

Now, throughout this article, I might have sounded as if alcohol itself is a demon seeking destruction on humanity; however, alcohol is just a neutral substance – a tool just like juice or sugar – that is amoral in itself. The abuse comes from human weakness and intemperance regarding a source of temptation to excess. If something has more cons than pros, it would serve us better to avoid it altogether, rather than letting it possibly steal your self-mastery. So, the question is not “Is alcohol stealing your spirit,” but “Are you losing your spirit to alcohol?” 

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