National Alcohol Awareness Month: The First Happy Hours Were Zero-Proof Pastimes

Happy hour sometimes can be a one-way (and multiple-cocktail) ticket to a hangover. The original happy hours weren’t terribly likely to raise one’s blood alcohol levels, however.

Today, it’s well-known that happy hour means you have a couple of hours to imbibe at a bargain rate.

More than a century ago, right before World War I, the term was used to describe parties held on naval ships. Time was set aside a few nights each week to amuse the crew. The entertainment could be any number of things: movies, singing, boxing bouts, drama, vaudeville, or dancing.

The term eventually spread to land, too. Some entertainments were held at so-called happy hour halls. It also was applied to children, since labor laws were keeping more kids out of factories and mines, so children could now enjoy a happy hour of play.

During the Prohibition years, the meaning of the term shifted again. Illegal drinks could be had at happy hours, aka speakeasies.

Prohibition may have been repealed in 1933, but the term lived on in the vernacular, eventually picked up by bars and restaurants offering discounted food and drink to draw patrons. Not all U.S. states have happy hours. A handful have banned or limited them to curb alcohol-related accidents.

If your happy hour — no matter what time of day you tipple — has become something beyond casual, it may be time to step back and reflect. Of most concern is when drinking turns excessive — that includes binge drinking or binging (for women, four drinks in two hours, or five for men, in the same time frame) — or heavy (15 drinks a week for men, or eight a week for women). Alcohol abuse can lead to dependence or addiction.

Both carry a number of risks. Work and personal relationships may suffer. Alcohol abuse also can lead to a host of health problems, anything from nutritional deficiencies to heart disease.

Sources
history.com – World War I
citylab.com – A Brief History of “Happy Hour”
history.com – Prohibition
mentalfloss.com – Where Did the Term “Happy Hour” Come From?
huffpost.com – So THAT’S Why It’s Called Happy Hour
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Knowing When It Is Time
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Let’s Find Out Why Alcohol Is the Deadliest Drug

Talk with one of our Treatment Specialists!

Call 24/7: 949-276-2886