This weekend I enjoyed a cold one – a cold skate on the Ottawa canal, that is (and a hot drink of cocoa to go with it, instead of an alcoholic beverage). We were visiting my son there, and of course what else would one do in minus 25 degree weather with a wind chill in the minus 30’s but go out and do the quintessential Canadian thing. Afterwards we did have a very nice meal, home cooked by my son (a first for us, and really quite touching), served with wine. That was the second time in the week that I have had to turn down alcohol (the first being at that violence and injury prevention lecture at the University of Toronto that I alluded to in my blog last week). Because I have often forgone alcohol at family socials due to being on call, this was not unusual; however it did bring up discussion at the dinner table on how odd it is that I am doing this challenge, as it really is not much of a change for me.
Since then I have given some thought to the very negative impacts that alcohol has had on some of my extended family members, and its potential to negatively affect my descendants in the years to come. Our society is very encouraging of drinking, with little awareness of the negative health and social impacts. These prices are paid by us all, in terms of health care, legal and economic costs to society that outweigh the sales profits and taxation revenues. It is important that our governments pursue public policy to promote a culture of moderation on alcohol. Increasing alcohol availability undermines this, with harms to us all whether we drink or not.
Dr. Charles Gardner