Ancient Alcohol - A Brief History Of Dependency On Alcohol

By: Ben Pate

Alcohol and alcoholism are not just modern issues. Since the beginning of time people have been using alcohol for medicinal and celebratory purposes. Ancient records tell tales for inebriated rulers and festivals devoted to alcohol rich deities. From the ancient Sumerians to the Romans alcohol has been an age old beverage of contention. This is perhaps why today those suffering from an excessive alcohol consumption problem must seek help at alcohol detox centers and rehab alike.

Ancient Records

Ancient artworks depict copious amounts of alcohol and alcohol jugs next to rulers and deities alike. Neolithic discoveries unearthed jugs that contained fermented beverages made from berries or honey. This is evidence that alcohol consumption is not a contemporary phenomenon. The worship of wine infused deities such as Osiris and Dionysius was also rampant throughout the ancient world.

Importance of Moderation

Alcohol has been used for centuries in secular and religious practices. However, numerous accounts of the ancient periods also stressed the importance of moderation. A sentiment society still stresses today. Ancient Egyptians didn't necessarily believe that being inebriated was a problem; they did however frown upon taverns and excessive drinking. The same with the Greeks and Romans although wine and alcohol flowed freely, and there was no issue with inebriation at festivals, excessive alcohol consumption didn't seem to be a problem. At the end of the day, the only way to beat alcohol addiction is with alcohol medical detoxification.

Religious Rituals

From Neolithic practices to practices today wine and alcohol are featured in religious rites. The wine gods and goddesses of the ancient times were widely celebrated in festivals such as Bacchanalia. These practices can still be found today. Modern pagan practices celebrate rituals with the eating of bread and drinking of ale. Some sects of Christianity offer wine at their rites as well.


Early thoughts surrounding alcohol discussed the idea of moderation and temperance. However, slowly these ideals shifted. Greeks, Romans, and Macedonians widely practiced intemperance. Alexander the Great of Macedon was widely known for his alcohol consumption. His mother was a devout follower of Dionysius, the god of wine. Ideals shifted celebrating the use of wine and alcohol as a blessing from the gods.

Drinking Games Aren't New

Young people today didn't invent the idea of drinking games. They have been around for centuries. Beer pong, beer battle ship, drinking card games, and many more are widely practiced on Friday and Saturday evenings on any college campus. These games originated in Rome, once such game the ancient Romans played included the quick consumption of alcohol at the throw of a dice.

Shifting Views

From the Sumerians to the Romans ideals surrounding alcohol continuously varied. Some periods discussed the virtue of temperance and moderation while others memorialized the intemperance of alcohol. Prominent men throughout history were either honored for their temperance such as Julius Caesar or were widely praised for their drunken ruling practices. Even as Christianity shifted thoughts, the prevalence of alcohol in rituals continued.

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Within ancient records there is no mention of alcohol addiction. Some use this as evidence that addiction is a modern scourge. However, this is not the case.

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