I was reading one of my cocktail books a few weeks ago, where the author was talking about how alcohol is “literally a poison,” his exact words. This took me aback as I’d never heard alcohol was poisonous. I’d heard of alcohol poisoning, of course, but not that drinking in moderation might slowly kill you. It seems odd that something humans have been doing since literally the dawn of civilization (the first known recipe for beer dates from 7000 BCE—bonus, you can buy beer made from the recipe!) is actually poisonous. Sure, the Romans drank from led cups, BUT THEN THEY STOPPED THAT. We’re not still drinking from led cups.
Despite my doubts, however, I found myself concerned that I was actually poisoning myself. So I decided to do some research. It turns out that The Science is not in agreement with this idea that alcohol is poison, and calls the statement “misleading at best.” Technically anything can be poisonous in the right amounts, but that does not make it a classified poison. And hundreds of studies have shown that moderate drinkers actually live longer than teetotalers. Even heavy drinkers live longer than teetotalers, actually, by a margin of 3%.
The idea that alcohol was a poison began during Prohibition, started by the Anti-Saloon League. Then the government decided to use it to keep people from drinking, but not just as a propaganda campaign—they LITERALLY poisoned industrial alcohol, killing about 10,000 people before the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933.
Governments and other anti-alcohol organizations continue to promote the idea that alcohol is a poison. For example, Scotland recently released the Drinking Mirror app, designed to show how drinking will age women (it’s killing you AND your skin cells!) in an effort to “appeal to their vanity” and get them to stop drinking. Hey, doesn’t the sun and mortgages and driving to work every day and having kids and basically being alive also age you? We should get PSAs for that as well. The creators of the app also claim that they’re targeting only heavy drinkers, but the app itself only has options for low- to moderate-drinking as defined by the medical community, and is thus targeting average drinkers (to be fair, heavy drinkers probably wouldn’t stop drinking just because an app told them to).
From what I’ve gathered through these articles, alcohol is only a poison if you overindulge in it or lived during Prohibition. The more you know!