To get a big-picture perspective on the pros and cons of drinking, settle in with Kate Julian's piece in the Atlantic, headlined, "America Has a Drinking Problem." And we mean big picture: The story goes back to the earliest days of civilization, diving into humans' unique ability among creatures to drink the stuff and the conundrum that results: A little bit can get the creative juices flowing and helps us socialize, but too much results in the short- and long-term problems—as in, the ones that shorten life expectancy—we know so well. On the latter point, she notes that while beer, watered-down wine, and cider were consumed in great quantities centuries ago, today's drinkers have a much more potent choice: liquor. Much of the wide-ranging piece focuses on one aspect of drinking that is a relatively recent, and dangerous, phenomenon: the increase in drinking alone.
Citing this analysis, Julian notes that anyone putting down, say, two bottles of wine or more a night is among the top 10% of American drinkers. Then come those who consume 15 drinks a week, followed by the next group at six drinks. "The first category of drinking is, stating the obvious, very bad for your health," writes Julian. "But for people in the third category or edging toward the second, like me, the calculation is more complicated." She cites the advice of one expert who suggests that those who want to drink do so not at home alone but only out with friends over a meal, or at least under the eye of a bartender. Julian's last line: "For those of us who have emerged from our caves feeling as if we’ve regressed into weird and awkward ways, a standing drinks night with friends might not be the worst idea to come out of 2021." (Read the full piece here)