It's all just a matter of degree
Tyler reviews a book on the rise and fall of Prohibition in the USA, which seems to argue that alcohol was a big problem before prohibition and that the policy "worked" in some sense of the word.
But however besotted turn of the century America was though, it paled before the levels reached by their European forefathers:
Both anecdotal and statistical evidence indicate heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, heavy over time, heavy over space, and even heavy over social class to a certain extent, although the rich consumed more than the poor.
Three examples of temperance from the sixteenth century make the exceptions that prove the rule. The Venetian Alvise Cornaro promoted temperance in word and deed. He wrote a book, Discourses in favour of a sober life, in which he advocated a diet of extreme renunciation, confirmed by his own example; he drank only not quite .4 of a liter of wine a day, which is more than half a modern bottle of wine.
In The Life of the Duke of Newcastle, written by his wife, the duke received praise for his temperance; she wrote, "In his diet, he is so sparing and temperate, that he never eats nor drinks beyond his set proportion." His set proportion was three glasses of beer and two of wine a day.
The final exception to prove the rule was a temperance society founded at Hesse in 1600. Its members agreed to restrict their drinking to seven glasses of wine with each meal.
In other words, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet".
This quote is from here, well worth reading in its entirety.