How Alcohol Prohibition Might Work

Well, in the US, in the early 20th century, it did work somewhat. In line with stuff I've read elsewhere, Tyler Cowen writes in his review of Last Call, a book about the topic by Daniel Okrent:
Alcohol consumption quickly fell to 30% of its previous level; by the time of repeal it was still no more than 70% of its pre-Prohibition level. Most notably, alcohol consumption remained low for decades; the U.S. didn't return to pre-Prohibition levels of per capita consumption until 1973. Alcohol-related diseases fell. It remains the case that high alcohol taxes reduce the incidence of cirrhosis, as reported in the 2007 book Paying the Tab, by Philip J. Cook of Duke University.

We still have prohibition for 87 million Americans under the age of 21, and these restrictions work to some degree. Plenty of studies have demonstrated that lowering the drinking age raises the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, not to mention assaults and other crimes.
Funnily enough, despite alcohol's tendency to increase aggression, as far as homicides were concerned, this was outweighed by prohibition's tendency to lead to lethal conflict resolution in the absence or the opportunity to turn to the legal system. And a permanent reduction to 70% is hardly overwhelming. Perhaps it's no surprise. Writes Aldous Huxley (in The Doors of Perception):
Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul.
Huxley, of course, goes on to recommend mescaline, a drug I know next to nothing about, but it seems that if you wanted to get serious about making people consume less alcohol, you should legalize a different means to alter one's consciousness that comes with less undesirable side effects, such as THC. True, its effects are different, but it seems to me that, just as people who turn on the telly often do so out of a general desire for diversion rather than to watch a specific programme, the motivation for getting drunk is often not to obtain alcohol's specific effects, but rather a general desire for getting wasted. Or "transcending oneself", as Huxley might have put it.

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