It's a good question, and the answer might be easier to surmise than we think.
First, let's look at smoking cigarettes, and how that's changed in our culture.
There was certainly a period in America when smoking nicotine-laced tobacco was considered hip and fashionable. Hollywood and the mass media portrayed the habit of inhaling cigarettes as a desirable activity. Images of celebrities breathing in the carcinogens tarnished movie screens and magazines across the globe. But eventually...the game started to change. What happened?
Well, the evidence of cigarettes' detriments became too painfully obvious. The handsome, rugged Marlboro Man was stricken with lung cancer. Tobacco's image of coolness began to rapidly deteriorate in the face of neurobiological reality. Like a castle in the air, the delusion and mystique of unintelligent consumption was seen for what it was—a vaporous apparition bearing little weight or benefit in regards to health, well-being, and especially transcendence.
Nowadays, it's not cool to smoke. It's more like a pitiful addiction that we're desperately trying to flush out of our cultural system and collective body. Smoking is being increasingly banned from restaurants, workplaces, airports, and public spaces in general. Bye bye, cigarettes.
But alcohol, a dear cousin to nicotine and other artificial intoxicants, is still going strong. Oh yes, some might say it's going stronger than ever.
A quick look around will yield instant confirmation of alcohol's prevalent status and endurance. There are bars and liquor stores populating nearly every city and town in the nation (except in the rare "dry" counties in conservative-minded regions). Drinking beer, liquor, and wine are intertwined with the notion of fine dining and enjoying exquisite foods. Megastars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie even own their own vineyard and winery, and their parent film industry undoubtedly perpetuates alcohol's place as a substance and activity for recreation, celebration, and inebriation. There is no denying it.
Yet, the nightmarish effects of drinking alcohol are more apparent than ever. Cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis, drunk driving, increased violence, volatility, and horrendous deaths are happening across the board. I don't need to write another sentence to prove those facts.
And how does Alcoholics Anonymous, the mainstream option for recovery from alcohol addiction, fit into the Great Booze Machine that still has a vice grip on our society?
In simplest terms, and to cut to the chase, let me say this: AA merely reinforces, rationalizes, and validates the stranglehold that alcohol has on the neck of popular culture. Not that Bill Wilson or Dr. Bob ever intended for that to be the case. With all their humility and postures of kneeling down on bended knee before a masculine, paternal god, they merely wanted to follow "His Will", which they deemed to be living soberly as disease-stricken alcoholics. But for men that could still "drink like gentlemen", Bill and Bob tipped their hats in reverence and respect. In their eyes, there was no intrinsic problem with drinking alcohol. Only when drinking in excess or "unmanageablely" did the Higher Power need to step in and take the wheel.
But poison is poison, and the common-sense observation that alcohol is intrinsically toxic cannot be swept under the rug forever. The clear light of consciousness ultimately shines upon the darkness. For this reason, booze, like cigarettes, will begin to fade from the global landscape of products being ingested. And how will that happen?
First, not through punitive prohibition or anti-alcohol campaigns. AA definitely has it right in that arena. There is no effectiveness in trying to take down the animal by spewing animosity at the beast. After all, alcohol is just being alcohol. It is what it is. You can't blame or negate the chemical composition of certain liquids that undergo decay. That's just what they do (fermentation). That organic process is innocent.
What is not so innocent, or shall we say, not so wise and intelligent, is the conscious choice to imbibe in the elixirs. That's where we have to redirect our desire for transcendent euphoria and joy towards better means, and that's where AYP comes into play. It's all about how we accomplish our transformation and satisfy our pure, primal desire to be happy. Very simple.
So, why is drinking alcohol still cool? Well, the main reason people are still catching the rough, harsh buzz of firewater is because there is a lack of visibility and transparency in regards to superior methods of intoxication.
If we can demonstrably show that Deep Meditation, Spinal Breathing Pranayama, Samyama, bhakti, karma yoga, diet/cleansing, and other tools in the AYP toolshed—comprehensively and undeniably result in a far more functional and lasting divine intoxication, then people will flock to this yogic reservoir like thirsty camels in the desert. It will happen. Guaranteed.
The time has come to educate the masses with truth, and the truth is...our nervous system is the doorway to the Infinite.
I call upon and eagerly await the like-minded souls who are ready to facilitate revolution in the world of recovery.