I am sharing this because these are things that I truly didn’t know. And even now, I am still learning. When I started this journey on December 29th, I just belly flopped in and had no idea how to swim. I think I have graduated to arm floaties now, shallow end only, obviously.
I want to start with the disclaimers: Education and prohibition are not the same thing. Everyone has a body and everyone gets to choose how to treat it. What I am against, is the lies we lead to believe about alcohol by advertising, society, and even agencies put in place to keep us healthy. Societies current relationship with alcohol is very much like our former relationship with cigarettes. So much I have learned the last (almost) 8 months, I have met with a shocked face and the words, “Why didn’t I know this?!” on my lips. I will get into some of the issues later but also, you have the interwebs. End Disclaimer.
PS I just finished writing this whole thing and it’s probably too long. If you want, just click on the links, especially the podcast at the end. Other people are much smarter than me.
So, starting with the some of the facts. These are not debatable, they are the scientific facts whether it makes you happy or not. Alcohol is an addictive drug. It is not your fault that your body and brain become addicted to an addictive substance. That is its job. Alcohol is ethanol. We water it down so it does not kill us, but it is same ethanol that is rocket fuel. I heard Annie Grace say this on a podcast, “When you vomit after drinking, that is your body trying not to die.” It is a poison that we can only put limited amounts of into our body so our liver can clear it out in time to keep us alive.
What about all the articles that say moderation is not just fine but even beneficial? First, if you research to support a belief that you already have, you will find information to support that belief. Myself included. Secondly, it is important to understand, that just as tobacco companies paid for research that would ultimately conclude that smoking was good for your health, the same is happening now with alcohol companies. This spring several articles revealed that the National Institute of Health received funding from the alcohol industry (in the 100 millions) to support research on clinical trials about moderate drinking and the effects of alcohol. The alcohol industry was then given the power to choose their own scientists and even the trials design. You can read more on it here and here. In case you don’t read the article, the research did not take into account heavy drinkers that found health benefits in cutting back to moderate drinking in comparison to non drinkers adding in alcohol or the abstainer bias that lumps together all non drinkers that include those that have already quit for health reasons. Also, there has NEVER been a study or proof or recommendation to say it is beneficial to go from a non drinker to drinker. American Cancer society says they recommend moderation in drinking but the safest drinking is not drinking at all.
Then there is the issue of the actual word moderation. What does that even mean? It can mean anything from one drink per day for women and two for men to no more than one drink per day for both sexes to one to two drinks no more than a couple of days per week. If you haven’t refreshed your memory on exactly what counts as one serving or unit, measure it out next time you pour a drink. We very rarely are drinking one serving per drink.
A new study that was released a couple of days ago concludes that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Another link. If I tried to explain the entire article I would basically be re writing the whole thing here, so please read. BUT really, what it boils down to is really not that shocking when you think about it. Putting a poisonous substance into your body is directly related to an increase in a cancer risk (especially breast cancer!), heart disease, self harm etc etc. It de bunks all the previous articles and skewed research about alcohol being beneficial. Articles about this study came out last week and today, if you google it, you will find new articles still arguing that this study is moralistic and that prohibition is just as harmful as alcohol consumption (which, I get the point but a little dramatic) and everything in moderation is fine. I actually agree with the point about moderation. The same way I think that if you smoked a couple of cigarettes a year or even one a month, if that makes you happy, go for it. But realistically, do you or anyone you know drink like that? Probably not (and if you do, go for it!).
The new study does not address the way alcohol physically changes the structure of your brain, but I did write about it briefly in this blog.
I am not for making alcohol illegal or judging anyone that chooses to drink, but I think you should do it fully aware and because the alcohol industry spends the most money on advertising than any other industry, that is really hard. It is really hard to be different in a society that loves alcohol so much that it is unwilling to even accept scientific facts about it. I get that. It is because we are addicted as a society. No judgement in that, but it’s just the truth.
Okay, one last thing! If you have 55 mins to spare or dedicate, this podcast is 100% worth your time. I get emotional when I talk about alcohol because I have an emotional story with it, I realize that not everyone does. This podcast with Annie Grace and The Grind is un emotional, compelling and will hopefully change the way you look at drinking or choosing not drinking. Seriously, worth your time even if you have no desire to quit drinking! (if you would rather not open with the link, it is This Naked Mind podcast episode 99)
That’s all. Don’t shoot the messenger. Choosing differently is rarely easy, but it is always empowering.
PPS If you are interested in going alcohol free but don’t know where to start, visit my Getting Started page. Hopefully there are resources there that you will connect with!