The Dark History of Alcoholism

The history of alcoholism can be traced back thousands of years, with some cultures going so far as to make it illegal (Egypt) and others believing that it was responsible for the downfall of mankind (Judeo-Christianity). Alcoholism has existed in human communities since before recorded history and will likely continue to exist long after this one passes away.


The History of Alcoholism


Alcohol abuse and alcoholism, historically known as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction, has ravaged families and communities for centuries. The use of alcohol, a depressant that causes feelings of pleasure but can lead to various physical and psychological issues, is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. Alcohol abuse was not common until about 10 000 years ago when humans first started cultivating grains such as barley and rice.


 Alcohol dependency is a chronic relapsing disease characterised by compulsive alcohol use despite its known harmful effects on health, relationships and personal responsibilities. Alcohol abuse has been documented throughout history as far back as ancient Greece. However, unlike now when it is thought to be a disease that can be treated with therapy or medications, in those days it was seen as sinful behaviour that required repentance.


 With a clearer understanding of alcoholism as a disease, treatment can be more effective and individualised. The causes of alcoholism are complex but are known to include genetic factors. Family history is a major indicator of alcohol abuse risk; those with close relatives who suffer from an alcohol use disorder are two to four times more likely to develop one themselves.


In South Africa,  alcoholism is a major public health problem. The rate of alcohol abuse in South Africa is among one of the highest in the world. The World Health Organizationestimates that over 10% of men and 3% of women in South Africa are dependent on alcohol, which is nearly double that in developed countries such as Canada or Australia. In developing countries like South Africa, a history of colonialism has led to a strong association between drinking and social status. Drinking alcoholic beverages was associated with being civilised, while not drinking was seen as being uncivilized.


Understanding Alcohol Addiction Today


If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one’s drinking habits, it’s important to understand how alcohol addiction has manifested in South Africa (and around the world) through history. As well as being high in calories, beer is often brewed with high levels of sugar—which may be another reason why we associate it with weight gain. Additionally, alcohol tends to lower inhibitions, so people might engage in unhealthy or unsafe behaviours while under its influence.


In South Africa, alcoholism is often seen as a problem that only affects poor communities. In fact, alcoholism knows no socioeconomic bounds—people from all walks of life can struggle with alcohol addiction. Furthermore, there’s also an association between alcoholism and mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.


While alcohol addiction can have devastating consequences, it’s also a disease that can be treated. When someone is struggling with alcoholism, you can encourage them to get help. You can offer to accompany them to an AA meeting or help them find professional treatment if they don’t feel comfortable going alone.


 In some instances, you might need to temporarily cut off contact with a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism. By setting boundaries, you can better help them realise their condition and seek professional treatment. However, it’s important to remember that they’re not their disease—they’re a person who deserves support regardless of what they may be struggling with.


Alcohol Dependency Today – Causes and Effects


When we consider the history of alcoholism, it’s easy to see how excessive drinking has caused havoc on families, communities and even countries throughout history. In fact, many historians argue that alcohol abuse is one of the main reasons ancient societies collapsed. For example, it is believed that most Roman soldiers were regularly drunk when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul; others argue that alcohol addiction was responsible for razing Ireland’s Viking cities in the 10th century AD. Today, we are witnessing how alcoholism impacts both individuals and entire communities in South Africa. For example, in a recent study researchers found that 44% of all men dying from coronary heart disease (CHD) are directly related to excess alcohol consumption. There are many causes including genetic factors.


 There are many negative effects when a person abuses alcohol over a long period. The effects include dependence, blackouts, depression, mood swings and poor job performance, to name a few. In addition to affecting an individual’s life negatively by undermining his/her relationships with family members, friends and co-workers, alcoholism can also have devastating social impacts on whole communities. For example, it is believed that half of all domestic violence cases are attributed to excessive alcohol consumption. Another study by Monash University researchers found that alcohol addiction leads to 56% more traffic accidents in people under 24 years old. Yet another study found that six out of ten violent crimes committed among young people are linked directly to binge drinking. Due to its low cost, accessibility, and addictiveness, it has become a popular choice among criminals.


There is Hope at Freeman House Recovery


Fortunately, there is hope. Addiction can be treated, whether it is alcoholism or substance abuse that you are dealing with. Seek help today; you will be glad you did tomorrow. There are many resources available to those who need help in recovering from alcoholism or any other kind of addiction. You have a choice to make today; do not let alcohol steal your future. 

Our state-of-the-art luxury rehab in South Africa offers world-class treatment in a luxurious setting. Go to to learn more about our programme and how we can help you or your loved one get on the path to recovery.