The Daunting Power of New

If you’ve been following along here at Ready to be Thirsty, you know there’s a challenge coming up after Christmas and the New Year to go booze free – a ‘dry month’, in January 2017.  Well, instead of going completely cold, you could instead cut back, or give yourself a handful of select drinking days.  Whatever works for you.

What’s the point of it, Doug?’

Well, thank you…I am so happy you asked.

The point, good fellow, kind madam, is to make the attempt to go without the alcohol for a month to….well, to get healthy.  Or…to become conscious of your drinking patterns.  Or…to gain insight into something new, a healthy habit, find joy, renew a long-lost activity, or otherwise discover something besides drinking (which we often do for entertainment, or to facilitate/lubricate the same).  Heck, you could discover a new YOU.

According to studies and news from the Brits – whose Dry January campaign has followers in the millions:

  • the value is in the attempt, succeed or otherwise.  The attempt makes all the difference…
  • many persons who did the challenge, perfectly or otherwise, carried healthier habits forward for six months, a year, longer
  • they tried new things, while escaping their routines.  They learned about themselves, their friends, their habits, and dare I say it, their spirit….!

So, if that sounds interesting to you, come to our Facebook page, ‘like’ it, follow along in January.  Maybe challenge a friend to do the same and dare to get Thirsty

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A Dry White Season Reason

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Once again, not against my better judgement but actually using my better judgement, I will attempt to GO DRY this January.

Yep – January this year.  Like the Brits, doing their Dry January

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Or an amalgam of Canadian charities doing their Dry January

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Or a British Columbia charity, BeYouPromise.Org, hosting their Dry January:

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Seems like everyone is doing this sober thing in January.  Makes sense.  In December you’ll be doing some serious indulging.  You’ll be gorging yourself on butter tarts and beer, turkey and tequila, whiskey, wine and wasabi.   You’ll be engorged with the Holiday Spirit(s)!

And then you’ll be spending time whooping it up on New Year’s Eve, either at a party or parties, or strangely alone on your couch.  Any which way, you’ll have tied it on, soaked it up, drank it down, ate the roast beast and otherwise heard the Whos who-whoing down in Whoville.

And maybe, just maybe… you’ll need a break from the boxes and soxes, the drinking and slinking.  If you do pause from boozing, it’s weight you’ll be losing.  If you break from misbehaving, it’s money you’re saving.  And if you stop getting wetter, your sleeping’ll be better…

Don’t make me steal the sobriety alone.  Go Thirsty this January.

 

Yo Ho ! There be warnings ahead

 

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There are rumblings from the far side o’ the future that we may end up with warning labels on our alcoholic beverages.   Which might be interesting, considering there is advocacy for nutrition labels as well.  You know – highlighting all those ’empty calories’ – energy without nutrition.

I am no expert on the law, but considering what I do know about legislation, I’ll guess the reason you have a listing of ingredients and calories on a Pizza Pop  but not on a beer…is because, legally speaking, beer is not Food !  Food has the potential to provide your body with important sustenance, vitamins, protein.  Whereas beer is….well, you know what beer is.

Labels to better enrich our understanding of what we are getting up to and in to when we drink has been studied, such as in the video above from Global News.  If certain advocacy groups succeed (such as health agencies who want you to live long and prosper) – you’ll be see labels like the ones below, as highlighted by CTV.

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The question is whether these kinds of labels are effective in changing drinking behaviors.  I think it’s fair to say that they raise awareness about the issue, as they are so graphic as to be unavoidable and unmistakable.

But they would be just one piece of a change in our social philosophy regarding alcohol – where it begins with more persons working to have more non-drinking days, as part of the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

 

Political Guide to Getting DeBunked

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We’re all for debunking myths here at Thirst. And maybe there’s a perception about alcohol that it’s universally available here in Canada, or certainly that it’s more broadly available than ever before.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

And certainly, we may not all know how much variance there is in pricing from province to province.  Maybe you think it’s all the same.  It isn’t.

From a fairly light exploration of Canada’s drinking laws on Narcity.com, see above a map illustrating variations in the selling points of alcohol, across the territories and provinces.   You can see that booze isn’t even available in Nunavut, and if you wanted a beer, you’d have to order it by mail… and that Alberta has private liquor stores.  A big difference in approach from Ontario!

What’s more, you can see on an interactive map from the.Loop that in addition to different places, there are also very different prices.  In fact, beer is so much cheaper in Quebec that some persons have taken to making ‘runs’ to buy big quantities and bringing it back to their home province.   This from a more serious discussion on CBC news,  illuminating details on recent discussions about inter-provincial laws as they relate to alcohol.

Make no mistake – booze is big business, and these variations represent the market forces of large industries and other interests. Any thoughts to the contrary are a myth, indeed.

Perhaps if we as a society viewed alcohol as something potentially very harmful that needed to be managed instead of a commodity that needed to be sold, the rules would be different.  On that note, see the chart below, illustrating the harms (disease/dependence/injuries/violence) of alcohol as compared to other drugs…an eye opener!

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Big Culture, Big Alcohol

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Alcohol is part of our culture.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that in the past of number of years, the breadth of alcohol culture has increased, -its availability has widened.

It’s a lot more places than it ever used to be…

We see the possibility of booze being consumed where we get our haircut, at Starbucks, at the whole darned festival instead of just the beer tent, on the golf course, at the Farmer’s market.  We can buy it at the Supermarket.

This is in part due to market forces – economics.  Connected to economics and money as a driver, is marketing.  Marketing is the communication between corporate entities and consumer audiences, trying to entice changes in our choices and behaviour.  Marketing is a huge part of how we think, imagine, behave and define our social expectations.

For example, the diamond ring as an engagement present is a relatively new idea, perpetuated through mass marketing of diamonds by the DeBeers corporation.  Essentially, marketing convinced us as a society that diamonds are a symbol of love and commitment…and they sold a whole lot more diamonds after that.  It’s a very famous story.

The same principles hold true to alcohol marketing.  While economics have created pressure to allow alcohol to be available in more places, marketing has worked to create alcohol as a normal, everyday thing – a symbol of fun, ceremony or social exuberance.

Yet, let’s think for a second:

  • no one hands out samples of other recreational drugs at the Supermarket
  • there are no other recreational drugs that are advertised in print, or on television to make us feel we’ll be more attractive, popular, or likely to find a sexual partner if we partake…
  • no other recreational drugs have posters at the bus stop, or on huge billboards, or have hilarious commercials during sporting events
  • no other recreational drugs have massive sponsorship deals to support sports, athletes, car-racing or the arts…

Yet we have all this and much, much more for alcohol, convincing us that alcohol is a normal, fun, exciting, sexy, dynamic, funny, crazy, wonderful thing.  And while any one of us might feel this way in regards to booze for a social occasion or two, the truth is that over-consumption of alcohol is killing us, and costing us billions as a society.

 

Truth in Advertising ??

A compelling documentary on alcohol is attached to this Blog.  It’s long-ish, but maybe you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.

After all – the ‘truth’ in regards to alcohol is a complex one. We’ve got it sold by huge corporate entities, or used as liquid leverage to stimulate tourism.  We love to drink it at parties and gatherings, we use to amplify emotion, and to celebrate and to commiserate.

We are addicted to it…as individuals, and as a society who seems to want it ever more varied and available.

It correlates with crime and violence.

It creates disease.

It facilitates a party.

It shores up confidence (or is it impulsiveness?)

Alcohol has very complex and interwoven truths that filter down through every layer of our society and social lives.  It generates interesting and wild stories.  Some such stories have tragic endings.

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The Consequences of Cool

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There’s a recent article on the CBC talking about how the Craft beer industry might be fueling addiction.  An interesting subject, considering the Craft beer industry here in Ontario is similarly exploding.

Certainly, where there is growth in the alcohol industry, where there is growth in accessibility, where there is growth in social acceptability, there is the correlation of increased use, and therefore, the possibility of dependence and addiction.  We know this from research (that’s a bit dry and long – but it’s solid and scientifically sound).

In the article, there’s some cross-talk about how craft beer can’t be fueling addiction because people are drinking all this fancy beer for the taste, the experience.  Perhaps the same logic would apply then, to scotch or wine aficionados – after all, aren’t they too consuming for the sake of coolness, for the sake of hipster-ism and all the cultural gusto…?

The truth of the matter is that while our motives to drink vary greatly, the outcome can often be the same – drinking to the point of over-consumption, whether one is tippling too much at a sitting, or just too frequently.  The consequences are also there in the research…chronic disease, cancer-risk, high-blood pressure.

A related article talks about drinking on campuses – college kids getting off on the wrong foot with alcohol.  Imagine – college kids partying and binge drinking…never!  Yes, it’s true, our relationship with alcohol starts young and carries on into adulthood, middle-age and further.  If we think it’s cool either because it’s a crafty, watermelon-infused, triple-hopped lager…or it’s a bottle of 1992 California Super-Fruit Cab-Sav…or it’s a sip of a 27-year old peaty Glen-wherever scotch….  As soon as you believe it’s cool, you’re more likely to want it, try it, drink it, indulge in it.  And coolness leads where it leads.