Were There Alcoholics in Ancient Times?

Alcohol consumption has been a part of human culture for thousands of years. From ancient civilizations to modern times, alcohol has been used in social, religious, and medicinal contexts.

However, the question remains: were there alcoholics in ancient times? Let’s explore.

Alcohol in Ancient Times

Alcohol has been brewed and consumed since ancient times. In fact, the earliest evidence of alcoholic beverages dates back to 6000 BC in China. From there, beer was brewed in Mesopotamia around 4000 BC and wine was produced in Egypt around 3000 BC.

The Role of Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages played an important role in ancient societies. They were used for medicinal purposes, as well as for social and religious ceremonies. In some cultures, alcohol was seen as a gift from the gods and was used to honor them.

The Concept of Alcoholism

The concept of alcoholism as a disease did not exist in ancient times. However, excessive drinking was recognized as a problem and was often associated with immoral behavior. In Greek society, drunkenness was seen as a sign of weakness and lack of self-control.

Examples of Alcohol Abuse

There are several examples from history that suggest that alcohol abuse existed in ancient times.

Ancient Rome

In Ancient Rome, excessive drinking was common among both men and women. The Roman Empire had laws regulating the production and sale of wine but they were often ignored. It is said that some emperors were known for their excessive drinking habits.

Ancient Greece

In Ancient Greece, excessive drinking was also frowned upon. The philosopher Plato wrote about the negative effects of drunkenness on society. There are also stories about famous Greek figures such as Alexander the Great who had issues with alcohol abuse.

Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, beer was a staple of daily life. However, there are also accounts of excessive drinking and drunkenness in Egyptian society. The Ebers Papyrus, a medical text from ancient Egypt, even includes remedies for hangovers.


While the concept of alcoholism as a disease did not exist in ancient times, there are several examples that suggest that alcohol abuse was a problem. Excessive drinking was associated with immoral behavior and lack of self-control.

However, alcohol also played an important role in social and religious contexts. As with many things in life, moderation is key.