Society and its relationship with alcohol

This one is a spur of the moment post.

I just read about Macmillan’s “Go sober” campaign to raise money for people affected by cancer. In principle this is a great endeavour. People drinking less is great for public health, and it’s raising money for a worthy cause. You can understand then why I was disappointed by the comments section.

Comments ranged from “you’re destroying the hospitality industry” (because apparently you can’t go to a pub and drink something non-alcoholic?) to “I can’t cope with lockdown without being drunk”.

I am certainly not saying that all these people have drinking problems, but I do believe this is symptomatic of a society where consuming alcohol has become so normalised, that sobriety is considered weird or antisocial.

So many people, when I tell them I have been sober for nearly 5 years, give me the age old answer of “Well done! I could never do that!”.

How do people not see that as concerning? If alcohol is such an important part of your life that you could never see yourself stopping, then I think a short period of sobriety may be a good learning experience.

Many will see this and assume I’m the self-righteous recovering addict who doesn’t want people to drink because I don’t myself. That is untrue. All of my friends and family enjoy a drink. I still enjoy spending time with them while they are doing so, and I have no personal problem with alcohol consumption.

What concerns me is the culture of drinking in the western world. So many of us drink to relieve negative emotions. Binge drinking in the UK is one of the biggest causes of accident and emergency attendance. We are a world of people that are so worn down by the world that we need to numb ourselves.

This of course gets into a larger conversation of how the socio-economics of the world drive a society where people can’t imagine being sober. I won’t get into that now.

Society as a whole needs to reevaluate its relationship with mind-altering substances. To do this we must consider access to mental health services, appropriate housing, ending food poverty, and reducing work related stresses (to name but a few).

To my friends who do drink. Try having a couple of weeks off. Learn to socialise without alcohol. You’ll be surprised by how much fun you have, and you’ll probably save a fair bit of money in the process.

Let’s create a society where the choice to not drink is just as normal as having a drink.

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