In my own personal experience, I will say that I grew up in an Irish/Italian New York family. I may have been 14 or 15 when my parents first let me have a glass of wine with dinner (for special occasions only). If I had grown up today, they may never have done that simply because of the way it may have been viewed, but in my family I learned that alcohol was something to be respected and enjoyed responsibly. My entire family drank a lot, yet I never saw an adult family member visibly "drunk."
When I went to college, that respect carried over. And although I enjoyed getting "drunk" from time to time, I never drove, I never acted out on it and I never got significantly sick from at... as my peers seemed to do on nearly a daily basis. I never judged anyone, because I knew many of them were never allowed near alcohol and then when college comes with an endless supply it's like a free-for-all.
Somewhere along the lines, alcohol became disproportionate to perceived morality, particularly parents that allowed it. "Oh, you're breaking the law, don't let your kids near alcohol." Everyone knew someone who had hip, cool parents who let you drink, usually under their supervision and strict rules not to drive or get out of control. These parents would have been viewed as immoral, horrible people who are also breaking the law.
I think you'd find that alcoholism in most Western European nations that have this open attitude toward alcohol consumption is far less prevalent than it is here. Most of these countries the legal, public drinking age is 16 or lower, typically part of a societal rule that this is typically done with family members such as wine or beer with dinner.
If you're a battery, you're either working or you're dead....