I heard on the radio today that our provincial liquor board is encouraging a ‘dry’ February for charity and that sparked, for me at least, a number of questions. Now I’m not so naïve that I don’t see the obvious. When Covid shut down most businesses our liquor stores were lined up out the door, and let’s face it, liquor stores never seem to suffer. They do not need to put merchandise on sale, nor do they really need to advertise. People drink, period. And when the going gets tough, they drink more. We drink to remember, we drink to forget, we drink to celebrate, we drink to grieve…when don’t we drink?

The question this move does bring to mind however, is why they are promoting a dry month when it will fully impact their bottom line. Clearly not a ‘business’ decision, at least not one designed to make money. So what’s the motivation here? Is it government pressure, or pressure from the conscience of society (a modern day temperance movement?)  It made me think. Are we drinking too much?

Society is stressed, no question, has been for decades. And for many, the outlet for stress is through alcohol. Compound general stress with a global pandemic and you have a seriously troubled people. So how do we cope?

Booze.

Alcohol is readily available and it’s cheap (compared to most drugs) and, it’s widely accepted in most social circles. A drink can mellow you, take the edge off a bad day, temper a bad mood, relax you, and for many it makes them more social, more outgoing. That’s a pretty tempting list of attributes in favour of drinking. The challenge with that is, when have you gone too far? Are those few drinks every day really helping our psyche or is it just blocking out reality? Is drinking a couple of drinks every day too much?

The isolation of Covid means we can’t go anywhere, so no need for a designated driver and therefore no need to watch what you drink. And since we can’t have a social life we are all resorting to staying at home, cooking a nice meal, and enjoying a drink,,,,,or two……or more. Could Covid be creating (or bringing to light?) a society of functioning (or not functioning) alcoholics? It’s so easy to lose sight of your limits.

Now I’m not saying everyone should abstain for the duration of Covid but I do think we need to be aware of the pitfalls of regular drinking. An aperitif before dinner, a glass of wine with dinner, a brandy after dinner, and since you can’t go anywhere or see anyone, make it two. It easy to see how it all starts to add up. Once Covid has been cleared and society resumes its’ previous pace, will we return to our former habits? I doubt it, because the die has been cast and habits are hard to break.

I suppose we all have our vices, and I’m not going to defend those who consistently go too far, because we don’t need a world of raging drunks. But nor will I defend those who fight for a society of Teetolatism because there are many who enjoy the benefits of alcohol in moderation, and for the want of a few, they should not be punished. There’s nothing like a glass of wine with a lovely meal or a cocktail with friends. I suppose liquor, like any other temptation, serves its’ purpose. The strong will manage responsibly and overcome, and the weak will simply succumb. For many the real question in this initiative is can we go dry, even temporarily? It may be surprising to see how dependent we’ve already become so all the more reason to make the effort, if only to prove that we can.

I’ll be very interested in any stats around this ‘dry’ February initiative (course why they picked February is beyond me….a more bleak and dreary month you couldn’t find. In fact, February will drive you to drink!)

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