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Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on December 8, 2023

Humans have been writing for five thousand years — and drinking longer. Archeologists recently discovered a 13,000-year-old beer in a cave near modern-day Haifa, Israel, and there is archaeological evidence of alcohol consumption around the globe by 5000 BCE. Alcohol’s draw is a cocktail of biology, psychology, and social norms. Among other things, it lights up the brain’s dopamine reward system. For much of history it was safer to drink something fermented than water — if TikTok had been around before Christ, there’d likely have been fitness influencers encouraging us to drink less water and more Modelo. Through the modern era, we’ve integrated the firewater into some of our most enduring rituals. Humanity has a deep-rooted affair with fermentation.

But the data suggests that Western culture is undergoing a structural shift away from alcohol as entertainment, social lubricant, self-medicament, or ritual. Everyone but the liquor industry views this as a positive development, as alcohol is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the No. 1 risk factor for premature death among young men. Like our relationship with alcohol itself though, the story isn’t that simple.


Between 2002 and 2018, the share of college students who don’t drink alcohol jumped from 20% to 28%, and, overall, Gen Z drinks 20% less alcohol per capita than millennials did at the same age — which was, in turn, 20% less than Gen X consumed. Among high school students, 39% drank alcohol in 2011; just 23% drink today. Think about that: In just a decade the number of high school students who drink has been almost halved. Youth drinking is declining despite another broad shift, the shrinking gender gap — older Americans are drinking more as a cohort, as a generation of women who grew up when drinking was more acceptable for them ages. The trend is global: In Japan, where drinking binges are ingrained in the work culture, as a means of establishing trust, 60% of the population now believes that after-work drinking is “no longer necessary.” Youth drinking in the U.K. has been falling for two decades.

Drinking hasn’t vanished from youth experience in the same fashion as mix tapes or call waiting, but the cultural impact of the shift is greater than the numbers suggest. Concert promoters report dramatic declines in alcohol sales at shows with younger audiences, and they’ve started stocking more no- and low-alcohol options at concessions. Alcohol giant AB InBev projects no/low brands (variants of traditionally alcoholic beverages without alcohol) will make up 20% of sales by 2025. High-end mocktails and dry bars are on trend, and millions of people participate in Dry January every year.


This generation’s wariness toward alcohol is not unmerited. It can be toxic. Long before it destroys your liver or gives you cancer, it can destroy your life, or someone else’s. Thirty million Americans are in a clinically unsafe relationship with alcohol, and in addition to killing over 80,000 people per year through chronic illness, alcohol leads to nearly 60,000 acute deaths (drunk driving, overdoses, suicide) — including more than 4,000 among people between 18 and 24. When I was in high school in Los Angeles it felt as if there was a picture and flowers every month for a kid killed in a drunk driving accident.

Our understanding of alcohol’s dangers has evolved, and recently. We’ve known for millennia that alcohol has serious negatives: Plato believed in a drinking age of 18. But we’ve mainly worried about excessive drinking and dependence, especially after Prohibition, when scientists wanted to avoid being associated with the perceived overreach of the temperance movement. Moderate drinking was deemed harmless, even beneficial. The first director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Morris Chafetz — who championed treating alcoholism as a medical rather than moral issue — wrote books about the virtues of alcohol, claiming in the 1960s, “there is no sound evidence whatsoever that alcohol causes permanent direct damage to the body.”

Dr. Chafetz was wrong. We now know even light drinking can increase your risk of cancer — alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen, the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos and tobacco. Research in Europe has found that half of all alcohol-attributable cancers are caused by light or moderate drinking. It’s not just cancer risk: Moderate drinking shrinks your brain. Older studies finding that light drinking could have health benefits have been reevaluated, and their conclusions called into serious doubt. In 2022 the World Heart Federation stated: “Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is not good for the heart.” And in January 2023 the World Health Organization said what researchers had known for years: “No level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health.”

Today’s youth don’t need to read scientific journals to stay up on the latest science re alcohol, because it’s a hot topic on social media. TikToks and Reels about the dangers and downsides of drinking are a genre, and a skit about “hang-xiety” was a recent SNL hit. Alcohol companies spend nearly $2 billion per year in the U.S. on advertising featuring society’s most attractive people and opulent production values. But on social, a Swiss doctor in cool glasses can reach millions with the shitty news that women are six times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver with equivalent alcohol consumption (adjusted for weight) as men. A doctor with a cool beard can reach even more people. Social media has many harms, and even on drinking it’s not great (Google #BORG for more), but it is giving voice to messages that don’t have corporate power behind them.

Despite my experience at Summit at Sea, the turn away from alcohol does not appear to be substituting one chemical for another. The use of marijuana (which gets no free ride on health, either) is increasing as legalization brings weed into the mainstream. Psychedelic drugs, used as party drugs or “microdosed” for creativity or productivity, are experiencing a resurgence. But these increases are dwarfed by the overall decline in the consumption of substances. Marijuana use among teens is actually down over the past decade, and opioid abuse is flat.

Something more is at play. The science of alcohol’s harms is the science of statistics: odds and long-term chances. Not typically winning arguments against youthful energy. Why is this generation so amenable to abstinence?

No/Low … Risk

Drinking isn’t the only vice young people are turning away from. Risky behaviors are down across the board. Young people are much less likely to drive: Between 1995 and 2021, the share of teenagers with driver’s licenses declined from 64% to less than 40%. As someone who got his driver’s license on his 16th birthday and spent 200% of his disposable income on a 1980 Renault Le Car, this seems insane to me. Also, fewer young people are having sex. In 2011, 47% of high school students said they had had sex. By 2021, that number had fallen to 30%. Note: In (un)related news, I lost my virginity at 19. (See above: Renault Le Car. Before I had access to a Discover Card or Android phone, I’d found an equally powerful prophylactic: a french lawnmower with doors that screamed “don’t procreate with this person.”) Similar declines have been observed in other measures of sexual activity, such as numbers of partners. Lawbreaking has been on the decline since the mid-nineties, and the rate of decline accelerated after 2010.

But there’s one risky behavior young people are increasingly engaging in: suicide. Between 2007 and 2021, the suicide rate among Americans age 10 to 24 rose from 6.8 (per 100k) to 11.

This is the tragic tip of an iceberg, the teen mental health crisis Jonathan Haidt predicted a decade ago. Since 2011 the share of high school students reporting “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” has risen from 28% to 42%. A recent study of rising suicide rates found that “the increase in the prevalence of depression among young people during the 2010s was so large it could explain nearly all the increase in suicide mortality among those under 25.” Take a pause.  What’s the fucking point of any of “this” if 50% more of our children feel hopeless?

Gen Zers tell us why they feel so bad. They face insecurity on every front: Their careers will be gigs on Zoom calls with low pay and no health care. They’ll struggle to pay off their student loans or buy a house or have children.  Mating and sexual dynamics have become increasingly risky, if not plain demoralizing; over a third of Gen Z identifes climate change as their biggest single worry. And, always in the background, is the knowledge that their life has a permanent, public record: 49% of Gen Zers say their online image is in the back of their mind when they are socializing … or drinking.

It’s tempting to write all this off as teen angst and the struggles of young adulthood, but these are fears that didn’t exist 30 years ago. How would you have handled any of this? Were you a thoughtful model of grace at 18?


The irony — and in part, the answer — is that no generation has ever had more support and protection. We used to joke about “helicopter parents” who hovered above their kids, but now we have “snowplow parents” who carve a path for their offspring, clearing life’s obstacles. Parents are closer than ever with their young adult children, thanks to technology that tracks their every movement.

As a member of Gen X, I’d leave home Saturday morning with my Bahne skateboard, 35¢, and an Abba-Zaba bar, not to be seen or heard from for 12+ hours. If my kid is more than 15 minutes late, the Navy Seals and MI6 are activated. Kids’ lives are programmed, pre-planned, and packaged — leaving them with 50% less unstructured time than earlier generations enjoyed. The result is lower resilience and greater anxiety. We use so many sanitary wipes on our kids’ lives, they don’t develop their own immunities.

Once they’re out of the physical nest (but often still tethered electronically), young people respond to this combination of coddling and fear in various ways. Rising anxiety is paired with an obsessive need for control. “Optimization bros” have taken to tracking every glass of water, “hacking” their sleep cycles, and pushing evermore elaborate diet and wellness regimes on their cohort. Tech companies are happy to facilitate this, building tracking of all kinds into our devices and encouraging us to wear them constantly. Clearly, there’s no room for beer in that schedule.

Take a Chance

Every generation inherits the assets and liabilities of previous generations.  However, we are maturing an immature generation less capable of dealing with some of the real challenges, and opportunities, we’re leaving them. Instead, we shield them from dangers that likely make them stronger — rejection, a B-, hangovers, the unknown — while letting technology exploit their fears of real or perceived dangers. My mom worried I’d get into too much trouble. Now, I worry my kids won’t get into enough.

The decline in youth drinking is not just about drinking. It’s about a generation that fears the consequences of the slightest slip of impulse control — which could be a spark in a world with a permanent gas leak (social media) ready to ignite a firestorm of shame.

The decline in alcohol consumption has many positives. But it also means a decline in the rites of passage and communal bonding that alcohol historically facilitated. It means a decline in drunken hugs and slurred “I love yous,” fewer first dances, first kisses, first dates. Drinking comes with a lot of risk, but it also opens us to new experiences. It doesn’t have to be via substances, but sometimes, you need to lower your inhibitions.


The phases of my life correspond with an evolution of my favored intoxicants: high school, nothing (I hung out w/Mormons); college, beer and THC; early career, vodka; mid-career, bourbon and rum; present, less bourbon and rum and more THC. I love alcohol and THC and believe I’ve gotten more out of them than them me.  Intoxicants have been a social and professional weapon, as integrated into my life as exercise and eating.

I’m a better version of me a bit fucked up. The very definition of a “good” drunk. Funnier, more affectionate, and more in touch with my emotions. Every romantic partner I’ve had has, in a variety of ways, encouraged me to drink more. It’s a bug, not a feature. Some fucked-up sense of masculinity still inhibits my ability to express how much friends/colleagues mean to me unless I have that rush of euphoria inspired by alcohol.

Often, when writing this newsletter, I’ll have a Zacapa and Coke and text people to tell them how much they mean to me. The next day, after reviewing the texts, I feel embarrassed … but no regret. My problem isn’t saying things I don’t mean when drunk, but not saying things I do mean when sober. Hemingway said he drank to make other people more interesting. I drink to make myself more interesting. If the previous sentence sounds a bit pathetic or like a form of alcoholism, trust your instincts.


Life is so rich,



P.S. Predictions 2024 is on Tuesday. Don’t miss your chance to hear my predictions for the next year — plus a review of how I did in 2023. Sign up here.



  1. Adam chafetz says:

    Sorry Scott, my dad was in fact correct. The studies you refer to about alcohol being harmful in moderation, are incorrect. They start out to show that alcohol is bad for you, that’s bad science. You should know that already if you had done your homework. People, ( that claim they are scientists) put out misleading information to manipulate and mis lead the public. You are one of them.

  2. Scott Maybaum says:

    Enjoyed this read. Sharing with my kids.

  3. Brent says:

    “If the previous sentence sounds a bit pathetic or like a form of alcoholism, trust your instincts.”

    amazing closer.

  4. Peter B says:

    We didn’t helicopter parent, we just love/d our son for who he is. I taught him the what “Fuck!” means and to say it only in the house. He said it outside the house once and learned why you don’t say it out there. Above all you must be kind to people, even and especially if they are not kind to me. (I’m post-lingually deaf). I told him “Pay attention” through his toddler years, and that if something is advertised on TV it most definitely is not good for you. In other words we taught him to look past the superficial bullshit that constitutes the majority of American culture. Oh, in the history of mankind, humans and alcohol have never worked out. And that CDC warning about marijuana? All studies in the US are done on the chemical grow at Ole Miss. Nobody should ever smoke that shit. Better off sniffing ammonia.

  5. Gregor says:

    But there is a really huge advantage that alcohol consum offers:

    There is societies where parents decide whom you marry. In these societies, alcohol comsumption is not allowed, lest the children lose their inhibition and make a move on a sexual partner themselves.

    But in the other type of society, the children have to decide themselves whom to marry / copulate. It is here where alcohols big advantage comes in: people lose their inhibitions and reveal their affection and find sexual partners / marriage partners (if they consume alcohol in the right amount and don’t over do).

    In other words: more than 50% of the scientists who wrote all these research about alcohol being bad for you were bred on days their parents lost their inhibitions by drinking and celebrating a little, when the parents even got to know each other and fell in love because alcohol made them lose their inhibitions and reveal their affections for each other.

  6. MKMK says:

    The doctor is swiss not swedish

  7. Patrick says:

    These days it is a true rarity to examine a topic from multiple angles, and without agenda. Very refreshing!

  8. Jeff Woudenberg says:

    I can’t figure out what he means by his last sentence? So does Scott have alcoholism tendencies? Sometimes I have a hard time reading Scott’s advice on alcohol.

  9. Evan says:

    Excellent discussion. Always thought my life would have been different (and maybe better) if I drank in high school instead of using THC. Took me a long time to connect with people and alcohol in my twenties helped. Also, the whole helicopter parenting phenomena has always had me puzzled. A proud moment of fatherhood – when one kid said he was so happy I did not know the name of any of his high school teachers.

  10. Joanne Rivard says:

    I pretty much could tell by your initial comments thst you were coming to his defense because you too can’t, the you admitted it. So you can relate…doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Maybe you too should take stock of why that is. Don’t wait till your deathbed. It’s too late then. Your loved ones need it now

  11. Bill Fowlkes says:

    One other factor worth mentioning is Credit Bureaus. When I was young and messed up, more than a couple of times, I just walked away from it. An apartment lease, an ambulance bill, a school lunch tab. Anytime a bill I owed went to a collector, I knew I had won, because the original debtor had walked away and all I had to do was ignore the collector, they had no real teeth at the time.

    No my kids tell me how critical their credit rating is to them. Bad credit and no apartment, car loan and maybe no job. And you can’t get rid of it, even after it expires in a couple of years, the internet has a long memory.

    It’s one more thing for them to worry about. It’s a tyranny that flies under the radar to us 700+ millennials and boomers.

  12. John Hastings says:

    Insightful article, thanks Scott.

    Would you say parental dynamics and divorce rates have majorly influenced these generational social changes?

    I grew up in poverty in London where dad’s were a rare commodity. I then met posh friends at college and quickly realised that although their parents were together, there was still alot of dysfunction. Sexual abuse of some kind seemed to be a skeleton in a lot of closets.

    Is this induced by post war social PTSD? The sexual revolution of the 70’s? Or this stage of capitalism and property market dynamics, where the average guy struggles to support his family and tangible meaning has been diluted into consumerism and businesses that hold very little first principles value, other than the creation of profit by addressing symptoms of systemic problems.

    Pub culture was a hub of London communities. It was a place of human connection. You now have to take out a mortgage to buy a round of drinks, which doesn’t make sense when your house price is 30x your annual salary. This has been replaced by coffee culture where most people sit alone on their phones, caffeinating their soul to prepare themselves for 10 hours of staring at a computer screen. I’d also question the prevalence of middle class cocaine use. Something that statistical research wouldn’t necessarily pick up, as it’s firmly swept under the rug and denied.

    • John Hastings says:

      Are modern anxieties coming from a loss of human connection and isolation? Or maybe that’s stemming from a loss of connection to oneself, based on a self maximising culture with no North Star? What is the vision for humanity as a collective? Or is the problem that beyond our primitive survival instincts, we have yet to embrace a story of abundance?

      Cheers Scott.

      Here’s to a warm glass of red.


      • Diane Heck says:

        John – thanks so much for your thoughts. I don’t have answers but I appreciate the opportunity to ponder your questions.

  13. Jose Augusto Chez says:

    Excelent Prof. G!!

  14. CMarie K says:

    Just read the comments…I love your writing, your candor, and frankly your open frankness. I look forward to your letters bc you share out so much scar tissue that we all have but don’t talk about.
    But I gotta confess I feel uneasy around a fella who’s more comfy in his modified reality than in the real present moment. I think of the situations, consequences, hard-won wisdom, and stupid fuckn shit I’ve mucked through in life. Realized that life is basically a pain in the ass. Maybe for a reason. So I gotta face into the wind and trim my sails accordingly. Not exactly an expectation or moral code I levy against humanity. Just that it’s what I help, nudge, and hope for my variety of others to realize too. We’re in this together. Whatever “this” is.

  15. Kimberly Smith says:

    You put into words perfectly what I have pondered, and fear. Our young adults are so afraid of messing up they take almost no risks. Meanwhile, I’m running a business at age 55 and make most of my decisions based on “how can I fuck it up faster?” I try to encourage my team, assure them it’s okay to mess up with, “We can fix anything,” and “I need progress, not perfection.” I’m not sure they believe me though. Meanwhile my older business partners and colleagues and I are still connecting and having fun over 3+ bottles of wine in hotel lobbys in NYC, Miami, and London and becoming friends while not discussing work. I can’t imagine how dull my life would have been if I had never let my guard down, had a few hundred hangovers, and hours I can’t remember. Physically healthy behaviour? No. But I’ve had a great life and learned a lot. I want to see more foolish behaviour in our young adults! I want them to NOT want to tell me what they got up to over the weekend!

  16. Pete G says:

    Thanks, Scott, for the balanced reporting and insight. Like you, I’ve been grappling with the “new” advice on sobriety and, like you, I enjoy the hell out of a few drinks with family and friends. I just got back from Spain and France with two of my sons and those cultures have not gotten the health scare memo. People drink at every meal (for some in Spain, even at breakfast). I felt validated in my enjoyment of imbibing without getting hammered. I know it is not living up to my optimal self but I’m only human and 10,000 years of imbibing history is validation enough for me.

    • Nate says:

      Thanks for the reminder – other cultures thrive with some spirits and are probably in a “blue zone” where folk live longer…

  17. Roxy says:

    I so enjoy your insights and candor, Scott! I learned a lot on this post…thank you.

  18. Kevin Keeney says:

    Thank you I learned a few things, I enjoy learning through the numbers and statics that you present with life. Bonus you didn’t mention Elon Musk one time in this post!

  19. Nate says:

    thanks, Scott – is the message here, balance/moderation is key?? I have been reflecting on the use of alcohol in my life quite a bit lately. I have also been reading and seeing all the information about the harmful effects. The truth is, I enjoy a nice IPA/Stout/Porter/Bourbon, on some level they bring me joy to an experience I am having. My partner and I like to seek out a new brewery when we travel etc. It is never the focus of a trip, but a fun enhancement of an experience. In the 9 years we have been together she has maybe seen me over my limit twice. I don’t smoke and never have. Don’t use THC in any way. I am an athlete and trains 15-20 hours most weeks running, cycling, strength, etc. Can’t recall the last time I had a soda. I guess all this to ask – what’s a man to do? According to all the data I am a “heavy” drinker, bc by all accounts I have 2 drinks a day. As you allude to above, I don’t feel like it impacts me in a negative way at all, just the opposite. There is an element of ritual to it that I enjoy. Is this all an exercise in justification? I also have cancer that runs through my family, those impacted also do not/did not have lives of excess. Something is gonna get me. I am not sure now of the point of this, and if anyone wants to comment feel free. Maybe this was simply an exercise to put my thoughts into the world. Peace to all. Am I on the middle path? I have grown to enjoy the insight you provide here and on Pivot. Thank You.

    • Will Egan says:

      Nate, you sound just fine to me. I think you’re just overthinking all of this a bit. None of us lives forever; enjoy life and all things in moderation. Have a bourbon and chill 🙂

  20. carola says:

    i love your content and your human approach. for being a USA person you seem more empathic and connected than the rest i read. i thank you for your existence. you light my day when i read you.

  21. K. L. says:

    Marijuana use among teens is actually down over the past decade? Don’t know how long that will last? Since NY made Recreational use legal – Never a day you don’t inhale some of it; you smell it everywhere in mass transit and even parks where small childern play. Teachers say lots of students are coming to class high. Everywhere in the news and politicians only push opening more pot shops and getting more tax revenue. Never even saying it is a drug or any bad effects. Ex Colorado Governor even said he regrets the negative of full legalization with increased E.R. visits, and driving incidents, etc, and the tax revenue made up only a tiny part of the budget and not worth the other problems it increased or created. Bogus worded social media polls that were used to get a desired outcome also – I bet if you simply asked “Should pot be legal to be smoked in all public places everywhere?” (which is what is happening now) You will not get the so called 60 /40 split in favor of it.

  22. Max says:

    I feel I had the best of both worlds: I drank from years 16 – 22 and then I stopped. So I got a lot of rites of passages but I didn’t completely mess my head up either. Maybe I’ll start again if I ever feel like I could do so moderately.

  23. Paul Peczon says:

    I always enjoy your words, not that I have the luxury of reading or hearing them all. You might enjoy “The Natural Mind” by Andrew Weil. It’s his first book from before he was a marketable health guru. I’m your approximate age and my kids don’t party – and I’m the embarrassing burner party dad. Kids now are sobered by the obvious signs of cataclysmic disaster looming, so there’s that, and lots don’t feel the need to be rebels because many folks have decided not to be dicks to their kids. But honestly, I can’t figure it out, even though its right in front of my face. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for being an ongoing inspiration. My prediction – 11 months from now Putin’s little orange money laundering butt boy will be claiming he won. Ideally from the big house, not the white one.

  24. Randy Cook says:

    RIsks? A large part of the angst of the current generation is the fact that women run most of the world boys live in. Schools are run by or for girls/women on their terms. Take a ‘chance’? An innocent peck on the cheek after a date will get you labeled an ‘offender’ and tossed out of school. Taking risks means that you understand the bounds of the ‘downsides’, but hard to do with the ever shifting morals of the radical feminism. Need proof points? Just parse the attitudes of the Presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn as they testified in front of the House yesterday. Arrogance, incompetence. Imagine ‘taking chances’ with those people possibly controlling your educational and future fates.

  25. Neil Pitman says:

    Hi Scott, I love the way you take a seemingly ordinary subject and take a spin with it. I like you grew up with alcohol and recognise the way one’s inhibitions are lowered by it, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Keep writing, every Saturday morning I look forward to an insightful read.

  26. Bruce Paynter says:

    You have become my favourite read. I relate to so many of your perspectives. Your statistics add substance to my own opinions. Thank you. Keep it coming.

  27. John Logic says:

    I Love You, Scott, and have felt we’re brothers from different mothers (single working Mom, L.A., similar age) except you’re the one with $$ and the int’l lifestyle and I’m in Baja, still trying to surf better and doing it this trip with No Alcohol, first time in 20+ years. Not going sober, just trying to switch it up. It’s …a Little weird. Trying to wingman a sober buddy, but where do you go to socialize when it all seems centered around…booze?
    Agree with all you write today – love the term “Snowplow Parents” – that’s a keeper.

  28. JD says:

    Scott, your perspective is spot o. As far as I am concerned. Now at 61, I have a far more mature attitude to alcohol than my you I infer self. But like you, alcohol was a key part of so many great social interactions I enjoyed with friends and strangers over many years. It does have a very dark side, but overall the positives outweigh the negatives for me

  29. Bill Purmort says:

    Always an interesting perspective I so dearly enjoy, but you took the easy road with alcohol. The Root of your choice and multitudes of others is Sugar, and no one will address it. Sugar has buried far more than the liquid.

  30. Jacob says:

    Yes, I noticed this weird lack of troublemaking several years ago. This generation was filtering into the universities and as a grad student they occasionally intersected with me. It honestly weirded me out and made me avoid them, an almost stepford wives vibe of spineless conformity and manufactured facade. That said even I am hardly drinking these days; it just seems to fit less and less with the reality of social life.

    As a neuroscientist, I think it’s misleading to characterize lower cortical gray matter thickness as ‘shrinking your brain’ (the author apparently took that language from the Penn press release, it’s not his mistake). It’s not straightforward to interpret what that means; there are many kinds of things in cortical gray matter. No one disputes that moderate (up to 15 drinks/week) is associated with better overall health, including mental health. It is not associated with dementia. Typically detractors will argue that cardiovascular risk declines are due to some covariate, but no one has ever been able to demonstrate that, and not for lack of trying.

  31. Adi S says:

    Thank you for so articulately capturing the risk-aversion issue in Gen Z’rs and younger. I see this even in younger Millenials. My nieces and nephews have so much anxiety and this really describes perfectly.

  32. Joanne Rivard says:

    I will never understand how someone as intelligent as you feels a need to numb their senses to deal with life and feelings. It’s like wearing a mask all your life…not letting anyone in enough to share the real Scott. It’s time to shed your fears and live courageously. Be authentic. Let your true self be known. You won’t believe how good you’ll feel about yourself and the folks that mean so much to you. They deserve to be told you care when you’re not under the influence. It will make a workd of difference (to you and them). Only then can you say…I’m a true loving man.

    • Dave says:

      I think he does show the real Scott in every podcast, article and interview he does on TV. I don’t think there is a single person who can’t see his vulnerabilities and compassion when he speaks. I am almost 50 years old and I don’t think I have ever run across a person more self aware, more vulnerable and more honest than Scott. I think your analysis is WAY off based. If Scott finds it hard to tell his father, best friend or anyone that he loves them when 100% sober than you might want to step into his shoes and realize not everyone has the exact same wiring and life experience as you. I find it very hard too. The fact that Scott writes this is honorable, brave and everything I wish my children would be. He has nothing to be ashamed about and I consider him to be one of the most genuine human beings on the planet.

    • Vinicius Custodio says:

      And I’ll never understand how people always try to see the lacking of things in others before they recognize what’s there, being said and shown, the way it is. It all comes down to humanity and natural laws. Paradoxes, causes and effects, duality, and so on. We’re not one true self, we’re multitudes. We’re not static, we’re dynamic. Impermanence empowers us to change, to improve, but we will never be really there, at the point where everything falls into place, where we’re perfectly heard and recognized, because others are on their own journey and the interactions between individuals, hierarchies, systems, interests is within a never-ending changing spectrum. “Only then can you say” is such an arrogant comment to finish your argument, in my opinion, that demonstrates exactly how we’re multiple, how we’re ego and unconscious, how we’re always responding to stimulus we’re not always even aware of, but wrapped in this purist package. Scott tries to show how imperfect he is, but attentive and aware to improve, just like the rest of us.

  33. Dale Hitchcox says:

    Fabulous post as usual, Prof! I’m 65. When I was young, drinking was cheap. I wonder if young folk today just can’t afford it.

  34. Justin Ross says:

    I really enjoy how candid you are. How you talk about yourself as an example of weaknesses or silliness or dumb human behavior. It’s a nice touch.

    I wish I could drink, for the exact same reasons you drink. But I’m a through-and-through alcoholic and drug addict, so I’m stuck with my ridiculous masculine walls up. Getting better at letting them down though.


  35. Joan Van Tassel says:

    Thank you for this interesting (and helpful) article. I’m sending it to my GenZ niece and nephew, who you described so well. One thing: today’s pot is much stronger than the dirt weed smoked by earlier generations. (I believe this may be linked to some youth suicides…data?)

  36. Jenn Jensen says:

    I loved this so very much and feel exactly the same way about alcohol. Thank you for writing it.

  37. Kirk Fischer says:

    My earliest ambition was to be a rock star (1970ish) so I played in bar bands because I loved rock but also bars and the economics of selling alcohol were the only way businesses could generate enough free cash flow to pay a band. The decline of alcohol as a social lubricant and the emergence of unlimited music on demand killed that business model.

    • Siddharth Pal says:

      Sorry to hear that, but I think it’s a good thing. Alcohol consumption has terrible side effects, and music streaming has drastically improved QOL for consumers.

  38. Peter Sooter says:

    This was a sobering (pun intended) view of alcohol. No doubt the risks are real and it should be viewed with caution, but the fact that it’s been a staple of humanity for ages indicates that there are benefits that go beyond the biological. Having a healthy and near philosophical conversation about alcohol seems long overdue.
    I’m of the opinion that having a long conversation about where it’s a liability (drunk driving) and where it’s an asset (social bonding) is necessary at a societal level, but also with our offspring to help them better gauge the risk/reward balance and how it suits them best. Labeling it as good or bad is not helping the discussion and impedes an honest look at how to manage the pros and cons.
    Best article I’ve read about alcohol and society, EVER!
    Life is SO rich!

  39. Phillip says:

    you couldn’t be more profound and INTERESTING if you tried…………oh and I’m 40-years sober

  40. David Klein says:

    Really love your content – your newsletter and podcasts. This was a particularly interesting newsletter because I have been thinking a lot about my own alcohol consumption, which has been prolific through my lifetime. But, I am a successful business owner and avid fitness enthusiast working out 5-6 times per week. I love alcohol. The question I keep coming back to as I’ve tried, mostly unsuccessfully to reduce my alcohol intake is, what problem am I solving? That said, I have and will continue to decrease my alcohol intake because I am aware of the negative health effects. Peter Attia has put out some really impactful content on this issue.

    What struck me the most about your newsletter was this, “decline in the rites of passage and communal bonding ” Yup. I can’t say a single fucking nice thing to my best friends sober in between the constant and hilarious ball busting. But, 3 beers in, its all “I love you man…”.

    I have gen Z children who don’t drink but do smoke pot. And, I really do see a difference in the amount of communal bonding they do, or lack thereof. They have a small circle of friends that like to smoke, and the group rarely leaves that space.

    Anyway, I am big fan. Keep up the good work. Take care.


  41. AlanStiftar says:

    Nice article. I have kids above and below drinking age, only one of which (the oldest) drinks. The other 4 don’t even want to go near it. As for me, I can relate to what you write, as there are times when I love nothing more than having a few drinks and cranking the tunes. Such a great feeling for me I rarely get sober.

  42. Robert Nagoda says:

    I love most of your work, but your constant railing against Android as a whole speaks to a real ignorance of the topic. No potential mate worth knowing cares what model phone you have, and even if they did, most people are smart enough to know that not all Android devices are created equally and while you can get one for under $200, there are many that stand far above Apple’s products in both price, exclusivity and technology. Been listening for years but still wince every time you tell this same tired joke (over and over and over) as it diminishes any cred you have when discussing tech-related subjects.

    • Actually, Robert says:

      Fair point, but it’s a little ironic. He’s not making a technical observation at all – rather a social one. It might mean that you’re both right, but you’re playing different games.

  43. Daryn Barry says:

    Nice article. Well balances and funny too. I had no idea kids had changed this much.

  44. SomePerverted NotionOfLiberty says:

    The word “Alcohol” comes from Arabic “al-kuhl” which means “BODY EATING SPIRIT” and gives root origins to the English term of “Ghoul”. In middle easternfolk a “ghoul” is an evil demon thought to eat human bodies, either as stolen corpse or as children.

    “In alchemy, alcohol is used to extract the soul essence of an entity. Hence its’ use in extracting essences for essential oils, and the sterilization of medical instruments. By consuming alcohol into the body, it in effect extracts the very essence of the soul, allowing the body to be more susceptible to neighboring entities most of which are of low frequencies (why do you think we call certain alcoholic beverages “SPIRITS?”). That is why people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol often black out, not remembering what happened. This happens when the good soul (we were sent here with) leaves because the living conditions are too polluted and too traumatic to tolerate. The good soul jettisons the body, staying connected to a tether, and a dark entity takes the body for a joy ride around the block, often in a hedonistic and self-serving illogical rampage. Our bodies are cars for spirits. If one leaves, another can take the car for a ride. Essentially when someone goes dark after drinking alcohol or polluting themselves in many other ways, their body often becomes possessed by another entity.”

    Source: The Excellent Article:

  45. Dan Theman says:

    You forgot to mention that alcohol is terrible for your REM sleep, which we all need more of to repair our brains every night. Read “Why We Sleep” for more details. You read it here first.

    • Vinicius Custodio says:

      That is true, indeed. I have read that book, found it interesting, but it’s even more interesting to take a look at some fact-checking and critics it also received from people from that science field.

      • Dan Theman says:

        Vin, since dealing with sleep issues a couple of years ago, I have read countless books on trying to improve my sleep. Every single one of them state clearly that although alcohol helps you go to sleep, it results in less quality sleep than with those who don’t drink alcohol. Sure, there are always critics and others who disagree, but the science is pretty clear from what I have seen. Hope you are sleeping well.

        • Siddharth Pal says:

          That’s an incredible book by Matthew Walker. I highly recommend everyone listen to some of his podcasts (He’s done a few with Andrew Huberman).

          Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of health and well-being. In an already sleep-deprived society, we shouldn’t promote substances that undoubtedly hurt our health.

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