We Need to Talk About Alcohol

Why I gave up alcohol

This isn’t an excuse to be pious. I’m not a reformed woman. I’m not a juice-cleansing, Pilates-practising, affirmation-chanting monk. Far from it. Rather, the social pressures of Dry January (fact: scientifically impossible as am Capricorn) got to me this year.

Building up tolerance

If you’d asked me when I worked full-time, or indeed, even before the pandemic, I’d probably have called myself your classic ‘binge drinker’.

Why do we drink?

If you want some comfort, 40 per cent of us have been drinking more during the pandemic. Why? I speak for myself when I say, for one, it’s to alleviate boredom. For two…well, that’s sort of related to one. When I drink, I get silly. When I get silly, I make stupid Instagram videos. It’s a public service, really.

  • “To relax, let my hair down, forget about real life, be more confident, get the ‘tipsy feeling’.”
  • “To unwind at the weekend.”
  • To accompany certain foods.”
  • “To separate WFH from home life.”
  • “For the effects, not for the taste.”
  • “For the social aspect of meeting with family and friends.”
  • “We enjoy the taste of it.”
  • “To explore new tastes.”
  • “I have children.”
  • “A brief feeling of invincibility and profound oneness with the world.”

Alcohol is in our culture.

Now, we could look at this in the historical or global context. Sources suggest we’ve been drinking for more than 7,000 years — starting in Asia but gaining far more pace in Europe from about 6,000 BC onwards.

  1. Hedonism — regular consumption, excessive drunkenness and general lifestyle choices
  2. Function of use — religious rituals and interpersonal relations
  3. Social control.

Breaking the ice

How many of you have had that awkward small talk where you crack a gin joke? Or bought a wine-themed birthday card? Or had a traffic cone in your student kitchen?

Should we give up?

You don’t need me telling you the benefits of going teetotal, any more than you need me to tell you to give up chocolate. Better skin, reduced cancer risk, weight loss. (My skin actually got worse for the first few days — likely because I’ve been replacing the sugar with chocolate.)

You do you, honey.

Around this time last year, my sister told me: “You’re coming out of this lockdown a hunk, a chunk or a drunk.” I’m working on all three.

Green Book. 2018. [DVD] Directed by P. Farrelly. Louisiana: Participant Media DreamWorks Pictures.
Bales, R.F. (1946). Cultural differences in rates of alcoholism. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 6, 480–499.

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Katie Thompson

Katie Thompson

Freelance writer, NCTJ-trained journalist, marathon runner and unapologetic power ballad fan.