Alcohol has a long and varied history, dating back to time immemorial. From the ancient civilizations brewing beer for religious, medicinal and recreational purposes to the famed, though eventually repealed, Prohibition Era outlawing all forms of brewed and distilled beverages, alcohol has enjoyed both popularity and infamy among the masses.
Literally thousands of years B.C, approximately 10,000 years ago, wine making is believed to have made its humble beginnings in China in about 7000 B.C., and in about 6000 B.C. around the mountainous region lying between the Caspian and Black Seas. In around 3000 to 2000 B.C, evidence suggests that the ancient Sumerians and Mesopotamians whose civilizations revolved around a fixed agricultural basis actually grew the ingredients for beer, and brewed more than 20 varieties thereof; although, there is some speculation by historians that prehistoric peoples actually brewed beer from grains and water before they even learned to bake bread.
Throughout the ages, especially during the Renaissance and Industrial Eras, the production of alcohol increased rapidly as more and more methods were invented to improve and ease the brewing and distillation processes. Production and trade of alcohol grew to enormous proportions, and as it became more easily accessed, people also started to gain a greater understanding of alcohol's less than ideal influence on the mind and body. Although even in ages B.C there is supported evidence of the acknowledgment of alcohol's propensity for causing social problems during consumption, it wasn't until the 1500s that drunkenness was first charged as a crime in England, with more and more laws and ordinances, and punitive taxes, regarding the drink appearing rapidly thereafter.
Alcohol for Medicinal Purposes
Not only for fun and entertainment, another initial purpose of the brewing and distillation of alcohol was as a medicinal aid. Used by ancient civilizations for everything from easing social anxiety, as a pain depressant; there's even a cuneiform tablet dating back to 2200 B.C. that recommends the use of beer for lactating women. Alcohol in moderation was considered good for the body, where the nutrients and proteins could provide nourishment. Doctors in the past would write prescriptions for alcohol for ailments from fragile nerves to depression. It has been said, again in moderation, to promote a healthy heart, reduce the risk of stroke, particularly ischemic strokes, even help with digestion and relaxation. The key, though, is the word moderation; being an addictive drug, very few people if any can truly maintain moderate consumption of alcohol.
Focus On Alcohol in America
In the 19th century began the eventually failed, but wide reaching, Prohibition movement in America. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Prohibition Amendment, revoked the license to do business of establishments who produced and sold all forms of alcohol. At its peak Prohibition spanned 33 states, but still the alcohol came on. From illegal moonshine to bootlegged goods, the people got what they needed from smuggling cartels, crooked public servants, and illegal underground bars. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the cartels like the American Mafia turned from smuggling liquor to the gambling, prostitution, drug, extortion and loan sharking practices to replace the lost revenues.
Alcohol, despite its long enjoyed reputation as a source of nourishment, as a medicinal aid and as a form of social interaction, is still, at its heart, an addictive and dangerous drug. If you or anyone you know may have a drug abuse or dependency problem, it is best to seek some form of rehabilitation treatment before any serious issues arise.