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There’s an interesting article here by Kate Fox – surprisingly on the BBC website – in which she argues that, to a large extent, “the effects of alcohol on behaviour are determined by cultural rules and norms, not by the chemical actions of ethanol.” She points out that in many societies – specifically those bordering the Mediterranean – per capita alcohol consumption is higher than the UK, but there isn’t the same association with violence and sexual abandon. In the 1960s, the French on average drank getting on for four times as much as the British did then, but the streets weren’t full of drunken yobbery and girls throwing up.

I have read that there is a major alcohol problem amongst aboriginal people in Australia, but their typical response to alcohol is apparently a state of zonked-out stupefaction that in this country you would more associate with smoking cannabis.

In recent years, although overall alcohol consumption has been falling in Britain, at the same time we have become more disapproving and censorious about it, so the association with irresponsible and uninhibited behaviour has if anything increased, resulting in lurid exposés like this in the Daily Mail. Perhaps if we were more accepting of moderate drinking in an everyday social context we would have a more mature and relaxed attitude to alcohol in general. Fat chance of that happening then.