If you ever listen to country music, then you know that drinking alone is a metaphor for being sad, lonely, and pitiful — and probably recently having lost your lover. In fact, at least in American culture, drinking alone is widely regarded as sad, pitiable, or downright alcoholic. Ironically (or coincidentally?), as I write this article, I am sitting in a dingy hotel room in the seedy part of Shenzhen, China. I have to go into Hong Kong tomorrow to renew my visa (I live and work in China), and I am unfamiliar with Shenzhen. I managed to find the hotel, but as far as painting the town Communist red, I would not know where to begin. So here I am, alone in a hotel room, writing for you, dear readers, and drinking Qingdao Beer — ready for it? — alone.
As far as I am concerned, drinking alone has gotten a bad rap over the years, and I would like to defend it. The concern is that drinking is suppose to be a social activity, and thus drinking alone is a sign of a serious drinking problem. Well, I contend that moderate drinking alone can be relaxing and creatively stimulating.
We know that alcohol (hopefully in good craft beer or fine wine or spirits) is healthful in general. It relaxes the body and mind, lowers the inhibitions, and is actually good for the heart. In fact, people who drink moderately every day live noticeably longer than teetotalers, according to many recent studies.
And if you are a creative type of person, like a painter, a writer, a designer, or any other sort of job or hobby that requires an open, creating mind with all synapses firing, then having that glass of wine with dinner or after work, or a couple of beers in the evening, can actually help your work.
Of course, heavy drinking alone and becoming excessively drunk alone every day can indeed be signs of a drinking problem, so I am not advocating that. But as I write this article, sipping a cold can of (not so good) Chinese beer, I am relaxed, open-minded, and happy. And that can only be a good thing. So if you enjoy a drink here and there at home alone, do not let culture shame you: it is not only healthful and enjoyable, but it might make you a better creator.