There Has Always Been Drinking in America: Alcohol, History, Culture, and What it all Means for Prevention

There Has Always Been Drinking in America: Alcohol, History, Culture, and What it all Means for Prevention


April 14, 2022



Americans drink to celebrate and to mourn. We toast a new addition to our family, an engagement, a marriage, a new job, and a life well-lived. We open a bottle to break bread with friends, to watch sports, to pray, and to drown our sorrows. But we also suffer from addiction, violence, motor vehicle crashes, and death, all at the hands of alcohol. This webinar explores America’s cultural relationship to alcohol, from the thirteen colonies and prohibition to today’s music and movies. In prevention, we often focus so intently on our communities and strategies that we fail to step back and look at the much, much bigger picture of the cultural and historical context of what we are trying to accomplish. Using humor and examples from history, movies, music, television, and more, Dr. Rodney Wambeam provides the larger context of what it means to prevent the misuse, abuse, and devastating consequences of a substance that has always been part of the American experience. 



By the end of the webinar:

  • Participants will be able to describe the role alcohol played in early America when alcohol was considered safer than water.
  • Participants will understand past prevention efforts that focused upon a moral approach to prevention and why they "failed."
  • Participants will learn to examine how popular culture (movies, television, music, social media, and more) help to define how Americans use and feel about alcohol.



Rodney Wambeam, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center of the University of Wyoming. Dr. Wambeam is Principal Investigator of the State Incentive Grant, Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, and Partnerships for Success evaluations in multiple states, as well as numerous other state and local level research projects. He is author of “The Community Needs Assessment Workbook” from Oxford University Press and a popular presenter across America. Dr. Wambeam is best known for his plenary presentation titled “Boomers, Xers, and Millennials: How New Research on Generations can inform the Future of Prevention,” which he delivered more than thirty times around the country. 






Webinar Recording and Slides

Webinar Recording

Webinar Slide-Deck



Contact Clarissa Lam Yuen ([email protected]) if you have additional questions about the content related to this webinar.

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