Sample Psychology Article Review Paper on History of Alcohol/Alcoholism

History of Alcohol/Alcoholism

A fermented form of alcohol was discovered in Egypt before civilization, but the most initial evidence of the existence of liquor was about 7000 BC in China. It was brewed by fermenting rice, honey and fruit and as Chinese civilization grew it later developed into fermented millet. As at 1116 BC, the Chinese believed moderate usage of alcohol was prescribed by heaven thus increasing the usage of alcohol. In Persia between 5400-500 BC technology of winemaking was used for storing highly perishable grapes which resulted to the formation of beverage although it is not known whether the beverage was used for nourishment or intoxication (Sournia 1990).

In 3400BC, alcoholic beverages were used to appease gods in ancient Egypt. They produced many types of spirits and the most common was hat which was a beverage for the builders of the pyramids. Drunkenness was not viewed as a problem to the Egyptians. However, they were warned against excessive drinking. In India at around 3000BC, there was a beverage called sura which was made from natural sugars like sugar canes, rice, and other fruits. The Hindu described alcohol as medicine when taken in moderation but poisonous when taken in excess. Clay retorts and receivers, found in Taxila in now modern Pakistan, acts as evidence that Indians used distillation as means of brewing alcohol. The method was only used to produce weak liquor. This is because the means used for collecting vapor in the low heat was not sufficient.

As early as 2700 BC the Babylonians adored a wine deities and another goddess.  They used specific alcohols to offer to their deities. At around 1750 BC, a code devoted attention to alcohol (Gamella 1995). Although the code did not mention drunkenness as a crime, the Babylonians become critical of drunkenness. The art of winemaking reached Greece at around 2000BC. By 1700 BC, wines brewing become common in Greece, and by the next thousand years, it was incorporated into day to day living. It was used religiously, medically, and become a part of daily meals. It was either drunk as warm, pure or mixed with water. The Greeks considered alcohol so crucial to the extent that those who did not drink were called barbarians.  Greek leaders advised on the moderate use of wine but were critical of drunkenness. They also believed that no underage should be allowed to take wine.

In pre-Columbian times, several Native American civilizations developed alcoholic beverages. According to Taylor&Helzer (1983), some are still produced up to date. It was used for religious matters as many folktales explain. Women were taught how to brew alcohol called ‘chichi.’ It was used for ritual purposes and consumed during religiously affiliated festivals. In the sixteenth century, alcohol specifically spirits was used mostly for medical purposes. However, some abused it. In Britain, it took the intervention of Elizabeth1 herself who issued a ban on a beer which was known as double-double beer to moderate drinking. In the reign of Edward VI, all drinking bars were required to have a license. An average person was believed to have drunk a considerable amount of beer each week (Gamella, 1995).

 British legislature at the beginning of the eighteenth century executed a law encouraging the use of dry grain for brewing spirits. In the mid-eighteenth century, spirits made from the cheap grain flooded the market and consumption of gin in Britain reached eighteen million gallons. The push on alcohol usage and controls started in the started early in the century. With time it was entirely eradicated. The US passed a bill which did not allow the manufacture, sale, import, and export of intoxicating liquors. Fifteen million Americans today suffer from alcoholism, and 40% of all road accident in the US involves consumption of alcohol.


Åmark, C., (1951). A study in alcoholism: Clinical, social, psychiatric, and genetic investigations, ActaPsychiatr. P.1–283.

Gamella, J. (1995) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood, Pp. 254-269.

Sournia, J. (1990).A History of Alcoholism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p.17.

Taylor, J., &Helzer, E., (1983). The Natural History of Alcoholism. Springer: Boston.