So, statistically speaking, the post I wrote about my own struggles with social drinking topped the post I did in 2008 on Miley Cyrus’s photos in Vanity Fair. This tells me that a lot of people, who don’t necessarily have full-fledged problems with alcohol addiction, want to drink less.
If this is you, thanks for clicking and for reading. Truthfully, the sheer number of people coming to my blog to read about this topic has given me a brand new resolve to stick to my guns about doing far less casual, social drinking. And this is difficult to do when you live in California a few miles away from Wine Country. People in the San Francisco Bay Area really, really, really like their wine. Every dinner party comes equipped with at least two bottles of vino (and this is for a small group of four people).
For about three months in 2010, I went cold-turkey. That meant no alcoholic beverages whatsoever. I said no to the proffered glass of wine or beer, and avoided going out to big social events at bars. For those three months, I slept better, I felt less tired, and I was more productive. No, really, I was (although you couldn’t necessarily see that from looking at the number of blog posts here, with last New Year’s entry still visible on my home page).
Now, however, I have a glass of red wine, champagne or a beer about two or three times a week, and I limit myself to one. Arthritis runs in my family, and part of the reason I decided to relent – in addition to the fact that I actually like to have a glass of wine or beer or champagne from time to time – is that studies have shown a glass a day actually might help prevent the ravages of time on my hands and neck.
Honestly, the original reason I renegotiated my relationship with social drinking was that my father was a (mostly) functioning alcoholic. I worried about genetic predispositions and had negative associations with people getting drunk. Graduate school is fairly stressful, and when I noticed myself have two glasses of wine a night to unwind, I took action.
To be fair, I don’t think it’s a matter of how many times per week you drink (unless you feel you HAVE to have that drink at the end of the day to “relax” – and then it may be), but how much. When I was younger, and still in college, the social norm was to binge drink. My alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, was recently voted the “Druggiest College in America,” so maybe my particular peer group was excessively into keg parties and not the “norm.” Point being, I learned to drink from two very bad sources: my dad (who kept Maker’s Mark in business) and fraternity brothers (even if you haven’t attended a party and witnessed the nonsensical amount of drinking, you’ve at least seen a movie depiction or two).
Thankfully, growing up and being an adult means learning to rethink your old habits, and I’ve never been tempted to follow in my father’s soused and soggy footsteps. On January 2, however, when much of the so-called First World is recovering from one of the booziest nights of the year, it’s important for us to rethink our individual, social, and cultural relationships to alcohol. Let’s just say that I drink far less than I used to and I enjoy my outings far more. But I’m no teetotaler.
Everything, as they say, in moderation.
Here’s to a happier and healthier you in 2011!