Prohibition’s main goal was to improve the morale of citizen throughout the United States, however the public found ways around the new laws by participating in illegal activity. Speak easies, illegal alcohol production and gangs all flourished during the time of prohibition. While many negative things came from prohibition, not all negatively affected our society.
Prohibition in Chicago in the 1920’s is generally viewed as a failure; yet there were some positive aspects, such as the formation of support groups for alcoholics and their family members, which came from prohibition that still strongly influences Chicago today in a positive manner. Prohibition is generally viewed as a failure. It’s main goal was to reduce the drinking among workers and the middle class (“1920s’ Prohibition”). Many people blamed alcohol for the problems occurring in their society.
They believed if consumption of alcohol was to be illegalized, society’s problems would magically vanish. However, in response to the illegalization of alcohol, speak easies and other gathering spots were formed for the sole purpose of serving alcohol. The only down side to these illegal organizations in the eyes of those giving business to them was that they were usually run by suspicious characters that generally had ties to the mob. Without realizing it, Chicago’s people were slowly becoming dependent on the work of the Mobs.
The process of gaining alcohol was illegalized, thus creating a subconscious urge to break the law if they were truly dependent on alcohol. In a recent study, it was found that “people believe they have more will-power than they actually do have – this leads to making poor choices and often very dangerous, even self destructing behaviors” (Brittany). Some thought they wanted the alcohol for the same means their peers did, to have fun. But in reality when the alcohol was taken away from them, their self conscious needed it which led them to try to obtain it by any means, even if they were illegal.
This need for alcohol forced some into realization about their personal dependence on alcohol. Most middle class men and women led respectable lives for their time period. They would go out to parties, drink socially, go home and do it again the next day. However, when their constant supply of alcohol was taken away, some found their nightly glass of wine to be a necessity. Men with perfect records began partaking in illegal behavior to obtain their alcohol. If they stopped to question their current change in lifestyle, they realized their addiction.
Addiction is more powerful than most believe it to be, it “demonstrates the power of the brain chemistry that guides human emotion and behavior” (Duis). They realized they were not acting like their normal selves and needed help. Many sought help in newer alcohol support groups that were beginning to form in the 1920’s. The principle of supply and demand helped support the formation of alcohol support groups form in the Chicago land area. It is a known fact that if there is a high demand for a service or product, the supply will increase.
This was the case with alcohol support groups in the Chicago land area. A local resident of Evanston saw the need for a support group and thus founded the first Alcoholics Anonymous. The public’s response was extremely good (Bohlmann). With only a few AA meetings that started in few cities, the demand grew as did the supply. For many reasons Prohibition failed at what it aimed to do. When alcohol was illegalized, the majority of people found ways around it. It barley slowed drinking among the middle and working class.
Despite its many failures, a positive aspect of prohibition was the realization some peoples’ dependence on alcohol. This realization led to a demand for alcohol supports groups, they soon were in supply. If prohibition had not taken alcohol away from the general public, there would have been no need to slow down and think about how much alcohol meant to the public’s daily lives. Society would have continued on depending on alcohol for social situations and relied on its positive effects on their behavior while intoxicated.