Share of over-fifteen-year-old population who reportedly have never drunk alcohol (interactive version). Global average is 45%.
Share of over-fifteen-year-old population who haven't drunk alcohol in the past year (interactive version). Only Luxembourg has a <10% rate of last-year abstinence, and only Luxembourg, Ireland and Switzerland a <20% rate. In most countries, it exceeds a third.

Teetotalism is the practice or promotion of total personal abstinence from the consumption of alcohol, specifically in alcoholic drinks. A person who practices (and possibly advocates) teetotalism is called a teetotaler or teetotaller, or is simply said to be teetotal. Globally, almost half of adults do not drink alcohol (excluding those who used to drink but have stopped).[1] A number of temperance organisations have been founded in order to promote teetotalism and provide spaces for non-drinkers to socialise.[2]

Etymology

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the tee- in teetotal is the letter T, so it is actually t-total, though it was never spelled that way.[3] The word is first recorded in 1832 in a general sense in an American source, and in 1833 in England in the context of abstinence. Since at first it was used in other contexts as an emphasised form of total, the tee- is presumably a reduplication of the first letter of total, much as contemporary idiom might say "total with a capital T".[4]

The teetotalism movement was first started in Preston, England, in the early 19th century.[5] The Preston Temperance Society was founded in 1833 by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine, or ardent spirits, except as medicine."[6] Today, a number of temperance organisations exist that promote teetotalism as a virtue.[7]

Richard Turner, a member of the society Preston Temperance Society, is credited with using the existing slang word, "teetotally", for abstinence from all intoxicating liquors.[4] One anecdote describes a meeting of the society in 1833, at which Turner in giving a speech said, "I'll be reet down out-and-out t-t-total for ever and ever."[6][8] Walter William Skeat noted that the Turner anecdote had been recorded by temperance advocate Joseph Livesey, and posited that the term may have been inspired by the teetotum;[9] however, James B. Greenough stated that "nobody ever thought teetotum and teetotaler were etymologically connected."[10]

A variation on the above account is found on the pages of The Charleston Observer:

Teetotalers.—The origin of this convenient word, (as convenient almost, although not so general in its application as loafer,) is, we imagine, known but to few who use it. It originated, as we learn from the Landmark, with a man named Turner, a member of the Preston Temperance Society, who, having an impediment of speech, in addressing a meeting remarked, that partial abstinence from intoxicating liquors would not do; they must insist upon tee-tee-(stammering) tee total abstinence. Hence total abstainers have been called teetotalers.[11]

According to historian Daniel Walker Howe (What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848, 2007) the term was derived from the practice of American preacher and temperance advocate Lyman Beecher. He would take names at his meetings of people who pledged alcoholic temperance and noted those who pledged total abstinence with a T. Such persons became known as Teetotallers.

Reasons

Further information: Long-term effects of alcohol

Some common reasons for choosing teetotalism are psychological, religious, health,[12] medical, philosophical, social, political, past alcoholism, or sometimes it is simply a matter of taste or preference. When at drinking establishments, teetotalers (or teetotallers) either abstain from drinking totally or consume non-alcoholic beverages such as water, juice, tea, coffee, non-alcoholic soft drinks, virgin drinks, mocktails, and alcohol-free beer.

Most teetotaler organisations also demand from their members that they do not promote or produce alcoholic intoxicants.[13][14]

Religion

Main article: Religion and alcohol

An allegorical map on temperance, accompanied by a lengthy poem. The "Religion Channel" was a strong current away from "Misery Regions" and the "Reprobate Empire", 1846.

Christianity

A number of Christian denominations forbid the consumption of alcohol, or recommend the non-consumption thereof, including certain Anabaptist denominations such as the Mennonites (both Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites), Church of the Brethren, Beachy Amish and New Order Amish. Many Christian groups, such as Methodists (especially those aligned with the holiness movement) and Quakers (particularly the Conservative Friends), are often associated with teetotalism due to their traditionally strong support for temperance movements, as well as prohibition. The Latter-Day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists, and Holiness Pentecostals also preach abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. Many members of these Christian religious groups are also required to refrain from selling such products.

Conservative Anabaptist denominations, such as the Dunkard Brethren Church, teach:[15]

Members of the Dunkard Brethren Church shall abstain from the use of intoxicating or addictive substances, such as narcotics, nicotine, marijuana, or alcoholic beverages (except as directed by a physician). Using, raising, manufacturing, buying or selling them by Christians is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle and testimony. Members of the Dunkard Brethren Church who do so should be counseled in love and forbearance. If they manifest an unwilling or arbitrary spirit, they subject themselves to the discipline of the church, even to expulsion in extreme cases. We implore members to accept the advice and counsel of the church and abstain from all of the above. Since members are to be examples to the world (Romans 14:20–21) indulgence in any of these activities disqualifies then for Church or Sunday School work or as delegates to District or General Conference.[15]

With respect to Methodism, the Church of the Nazarene and Wesleyan Methodist Church, both denominations in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition, teach abstinence from alcohol.[16][17] Members of denominations in the conservative holiness movement, such as the Allegheny Wesleyan Methodist Connection and Evangelical Wesleyan Church, practice temperance and teetotalism, thus abstaining from alcohol and other drugs.[18] The Book of Discipline of the Immanuel Missionary Church, a Methodist denomination, states:[19]

Temperance is the moderate use of that which is beneficial, and a total abstinence from that which is harmful. Therefore no member shall be permitted to use or sell intoxicating liquors, tobacco, or harmful drugs, or to be guilty of things which are only for the gratification of the depraved appetite, and are unbecoming and inconsistent with our Christian profession (I Cor. 10:31). —General Standards, Immanuel Missionary Church[19]

Uniformed members of the Salvation Army ("soldiers" and "officers") make a promise on joining the movement to observe lifelong abstinence from alcohol. This dates back to the early years of the organisation, and the missionary work among alcoholics.

With respect to Restorationist Christianity, members of certain groups within the Christian Science and Latter Day Saint movements abstain from the consumption of alcohol.

Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Anglican Communion all require wine in their central religious rite of the Eucharist (Holy Communion). In contrast, churches in the Methodist tradition (which traditionally upholds teetotalism) require that "pure, unfermented juice of the grape" be used in the sacrament of Holy Communion.[20]

In the Gospel of Luke (1:13–15), the angel that announces the birth of John the Baptist foretells that "he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb". A free translation of the New Testament, the Purified Translation of the Bible (2000), translates in a way that promotes teetotalism. However, the term 'wine' (and similar terms) being consumed by God's people occurs over two hundred times in both the Old and New Testament.[21]

Some Christians choose to practice teetotalism throughout the Lent season, giving up alcoholic beverages as their Lenten sacrifice.[22][23]

Dharmic faiths

Jainism forbids the consumption of alcohol, in addition to trade in alcohol.[24][25]

In Hinduism, using alcohol and other drugs falls under the sin of "maha patak".[26] Brahmins are prohibited from drinking alcohol "as it has a direct impact on the nervous system, leading to actions that a sound person normally would not."[27]

Similarly, one of the five precepts of Buddhism is abstaining from intoxicating substances that disturb the peace and self-control of the mind, but it is formulated as a training rule to be assumed voluntarily by laypeople rather than as a commandment.[citation needed] Buddhist monks and nuns who hold traditional vows are forbidden from consuming alcohol.[citation needed]

Islam

In Islam, the Arabic word "Khamr" (Arabic: خمر) refers to wine. Muslim countries have low rates of alcohol consumption, with many enforcing a policy of Prohibition. However the majority of Muslims do not drink and believe consuming alcohol is forbidden (haram).[28][29]

Research on non-drinkers

Dominic Conroy and Richard de Visser published research in Psychology and Health which studied strategies used by college students who would like to resist peer pressure to drink alcohol in social settings. The research hinted that students are less likely to give in to peer pressure if they have strong friendships and make a decision not to drink before social interactions.[30]

A 2015 study by the Office for National Statistics showed that young Britons were more likely to be teetotalers than their parents.[31]

According to Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, published by WHO in 2011, close to half of the world's adult population (45 percent) are lifetime abstainers. The Eastern Mediterranean Region, consisting of the Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, is by far the lowest alcohol consuming region in the world, both in terms of total adult per capita consumption and prevalence of non-drinkers, i.e., 87.8 per cent lifetime abstainers.[1]

Notable teetotalers

This article contains dynamic lists that may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by adding missing items with reliable sources.

The following is an alphabetical list of notable people who are now or were teetotalers during their lifetime. Some have abstained their entire lives, and others only became abstainers after a period of alcohol use. Members of religions that ban alcohol are not included.

Business

Fashion

Historical figures

Literature and journalism

Military

Music

Politics

Religion

Science and exploration

Sports

Theatre, film, and television

Visual art

Other

See also

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