Photo via Odyssey.
How many times have we heard stories starting with the few words “I was drunk”? In a world pulsating with human activities, it is only normal to yearn for a few moments of liberation during which we can cast aside our obligations. However, partying has evolved into a rapidly spreading culture, mainly among teenagers and younger adults. Party culture, specifically the prevalence of binge drinking during these social gatherings, raises two questions: Why is party culture spreading, and should it be a cause for concern?
The Prohibition: A Precursor to Modern Party Culture
Interestingly, one past ideological movement paved the rise of party culture: Prohibition. This movement, which swept North America during the early 20th century, consisted of a wave of bans established to control and diminish the sales and consumption of alcohol. Originating in the United States, Prohibition was founded on the belief that alcohol was the root cause of all modern societal ills. Even the province of Quebec’s capital, under the Dunkin Law, prohibited the sale of alcohol. However, Montreal was controversially spared and embraced the sale of alcohol, as the prohibition could be voted by referendum in Quebec under the Scott Act. The urban city was known as the Paris of the North, attracting mainly musicians and liquor tourists from America. They were drawn to Montreal's vibrant atmosphere and the unbridled availability of alcohol, which fueled their desire to indulge in excess. The attempt to prohibit alcohol consumption simply enamoured the substance with an exciting and adventurous romance, setting the foundations of modern party culture. Records show that at the beginning of the prohibition, alcohol consumption was reduced to 30% of its pre-prohibition value and spiked a few years later to 60-70% of its initial value, only to completely come back to it after the prohibition was revoked. Ultimately, the movement provoked the opposite of what it was aiming for: A resurgence in alcohol consumption and the emergence of a new culture centered around unrestrained partying and binge drinking.
What Exactly Is Party Culture and Why Is It So Prevalent?
Party culture, in essence, pertains to the cultural attributes of groups of individuals who engage in “social revelry” as a central aspect of their way of life, often involving the consumption of illicit substances.
However, party culture itself is characterised by a set of beliefs that play a pivotal role in its propagation and distinctive prevalence within society. One of the socially constructed beliefs of party culture consists of the idea that one who engages in this culture perpetually seeks to push their boundaries. In other words, if you party once, there will be this inherent urge to surpass past partying experiences. This persistent desire to test one's limits through excess becomes a driving force behind the perpetuation of party culture. It inspires individuals to embark on the journey repeatedly, resulting in each party exceeding the previous one and attracting more like-minded attendees. In the process, more people get invigorated in party culture and, in turn, contribute to its spread by challenging their limits. This vicious pattern is marked by the social pressure to party, as those who reject party culture are often ostracized. Therefore, party culture's prevalence is a result of its unique customs and beliefs that foster its dissemination.
So, Is the Spread of Party Culture Worrisome?
Concerns about the prevalence of party culture are certainly justified when considering the statistics. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the United States reported that two thirds of the 60% of young adults aged eighteen to twenty-two years old who consumed alcohol in the past month partook in binge drinking. The idea that excessive drinking is necessary for a teenager to establish their social status is profoundly affecting their lives, leading to severe alcohol intoxication. A study conducted by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also found that 72% of the college students who admitted to public substance abuse required assistance with their alcoholism. College students are also prone to drinking due to negative emotions or simply trying to seek a euphoric state, resulting in an increasing number of teenagers being vulnerable to alcoholism. The National Institute of Justice of America reported that as many as three-quarters of sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption. This social phenomenon is deeply concerning, given its potentially grave consequences for young, vulnerable adults. As alcohol consumption among teenagers increases, so does the detrimental impact on their mental and physical well-being.
It’s a fact that party culture has become an integral part of modern lifestyle. Despite its popularity, its impacts are extremely troublesome and could have drastic consequences in the future. Perhaps it is time for us to re-evaluate the freedom we give to party culture and find safer alternatives that give those the leisure they seek in times of need.