Alcohol, like any drug abuse is the causal effect of an underlying problem in which this society absolutely fails to recognizes is not due to being a minority, lazy, or dumb. Like crime, poverty, and other decaying factors to society....Drug and alcohol abuse is a derivative of the social decay initiated by the 'rich' on the 'expendables'. But as long as the rich and 'middle class deluded' can keep this and other problems at arms length and feel repugnant at the sight of those less fortunate...The 'I am better than you and you don't deserve life itself' attitude will reign dominance in American society.
As far as I am concerned, there are very few advantages to alcohol consumption - and any advantages there may be, are vastly outweighed by the negatives.
The negatives would include the strain on the health services, and the destruction of families who have an alcoholic amoung them. It causes destructive behaviour and makes workers less productive.
It is widely regarded that if alcohol were introduced today, it would be put into either a class A or B drug. But we have a drinking society and any attempt to get rid of it has ended in failure (as with prohibition), which is an indication of our dependence on it.
I think that it is clear that the social cost of alcohol is much greater than the social benefit, and as a society we should strive to reduce it's consumption.
It all depends on how it is used. If alcohol is consumed in moderation and not in high amounts, then it is not bad for society. Only when people decide to drink too much and be obnoxious or to drink and drive is alcohol consumption a big problem for society.