Substance abuse pacifies people
You will see countries today where there is a high level of substance abuse, drugs and alcohol. You will see that this clearly pacifies people and therefore makes them easier to control. You will see that in certain societies that you have seen from the past (and the Soviet Union is one example of this) the level of alcoholism was so high that it was a major factor in upholding the system. People were simply so pacified that they could not come into any kind of coherent state where they could change status quo.
You might actually ask why it is primarily men who become subject to alcoholism? It is not exclusively men, but it is, in many societies, clearly a larger percentage of the men who are alcoholics than women. If you look at, as an example, the Soviet Union, you will see that men are more susceptible to declaring their allegiance to an idea, to an ideal, to a system. They declare this allegiance, and therefore they feel that it is necessary to make personal sacrifices because the whole, the system, the idea, is more important than the individual, more important than their material lives. Of course, once they have, so to speak, sold their soul to the system, they realize that this comes with a price. They may have some comfortable position in the system, but they have no room for creativity, and therefore they can never feel fulfilled. They can never actually feel good about themselves, and so what do they do in order to avoid being confronted with the fact that they feel bad about themselves every working day? Well, they drink so that they forget, so that they change their state of mind chemically, which they are not able to do in their minds on their own because they have no path to higher awareness.
This is why you see this form of escapism in societies where it is actually the men who have the power to change status quo, but they somehow have this fixed point in their psychologies where they have sworn allegiance to something, feeling they have to be patriotic or loyal to the system. Or they are simply afraid of rocking the boat, and so they dare not speak out, they dare not bring change. That is why the status quo becomes their god, and that is why they feel bad about themselves because what they are experiencing is a missed opportunity.
What will happen in the Age of Higher Awareness is, of course, that substance abuse will simply fade away because, as people are given an opportunity to improve their lives and see that when they make an effort, it makes a difference in their personal lives (it even makes a difference in society), then there is no need to escape.