There's no denying that advertising in today's day and age is both effective and invasive at the same time, depending on your stance. One side of the advertising spectrum is the good--the marketable. Then there's the other side that's, well, more of behind-the-scenes advertising. It's the side that's not shown on TV or verbally heard on the radio. It's the advertising that sticks with a person in their memory and in their actions. This advertising goes beyond commercialism and can affect ones personal life as well as the ones they love.
Researchers come out with reports year after year in regards to advertising and it's lasting affects on the populations that are ingesting this content, and year after year the numbers of those affected outside of the ads themselves increases. The same stigma is true for alcohol-related advertising. Over the years there's been a shift in advertising in the alcohol world, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
For beers, it's been heavily influenced by men, and then everything else, well . . . their target markets lean towards women. Not because they're sexist, necessarily, but because of how easy it is to simply find a niche of women, thanks to the existence of social media. One main issue here is that alcohol's advertising is regulated by industry trade groups, some of which profit from the advertising's direct sales.
We've heard all of the tales about alcohol. Whether it kills you or is good for you isn't the point in particular, though it shouldn't be ignored. Americans, specifically women, are constantly being fed ideologies that may or may not be accurate.
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On top of that, many roles played on TV or in movies depict women who drink too much as an OK and normal occurrence. This leads the consumers to believe that this behavior is not only acceptable, but that it comes with little-to-no health risks, which simply isn't the case.
Similar advertising was done by the tobacco industry decades ago, which now cease to exist due to growing health epidemics caused primarily by smoking. Back in the day, it was a battle of the sexes when it came to tobacco, and now the trend has shifted towards alcohol and women.
"We saw it first with tobacco, marketing it to women as their right to smoke. Then we saw lung cancer deaths surpass deaths from breast cancer," said Rear Adm. Susan Blumenthal, a former U.S. assistant surgeon, to Watertown Daily Times. "Now it's happening with alcohol, and it's become an equal rights tragedy."
So how do you know when someone's having a good time versus having a problem? Talk to them. See where their head's at regarding alcohol, and be aware of common signs of substance and alcohol abuse. One thing to note is that alcohol abuse, sometimes referred to as binge drinking, isn't the same thing as having too much to drink on occasion.
However, it's notable to recount that the definition of binge drinking is having four or more drinks in two hours, much less than is commonly known by the public. Yes, the line is thin, but simply knowing that it exists, and where, could be the definitive marking place between casual drinking and a problem.
There is no shame in admitting you've drunk too much one night, or even over the course of a lifetime. The steps you make next are the ones that could change, and even save, your life.
This post was originally published in January 2017.