24. Intoxicants Have Long Helped Warriors Cope With Warfare
For all the long list of their harmful effects, known to warriors and their commanders since forever or just about, they have nonetheless turned to intoxicants to help them cope. Stimulants in particular kept soldiers alert, fought off fatigue, and allowed men to perform with little sleep or rest. Drugs could also inspire courage and offer relief from the terrors of battle. The rituals of drinking and taking drugs also helped soldiers bond and thus created trust and camaraderie at the squad level amongst those whose lives depended upon each other.
And after battle, alcohol and drugs helped warriors to cope with the trauma of what they had experienced. In short, most warriors throughout history had to deal with various levels of exhaustion, stress, and anxiety, when on a campaign and in combat. In such circumstances, chemical aids were often seen as a welcome blessing. Intoxicants were frequently taken unofficially, by warriors who self-medicated to better endure the demands of war. But sometimes armies distributed intoxicants to their soldiers as official policy, to make war and combat feel more palatable.