You may have come across the Canadian study this week that no amount of alcohol is safe. It’s been heavily reported everywhere and, naturally, there has been a lot of pushback and a myriad of opinion pieces have been writing either denouncing the study or lauding the study. But in the end I think that all the chatter about alcohol consumption is good, people are starting to review their own habits and question them and I think that is important.
My own relationship with alcohol is a strange one. I drank a bit as a young teen and then I drank rarely until I was about 22. If I am honest, by the time I met Mr. Tucker when I was a month shy of 27, drinking had become a huge part of my life. All of our friends went out a few nights a week to bars and we always binge drank. By the time I was 30 I felt that I had a problem with alcohol and felt that it had become an unstoppable force in my life.
Making the decision to get pregnant is what completely halted all alcohol in our lives (Mr. Tucker mostly quit with me). I didn’t drink during my pregnancies but I did continue to drink afterwards. For a lot of my kid’s younger years we still were pretty social drinkers hanging out with neighbours a lot and cracking beers. But never did I again reach the worrisome levels of drinking that I had in my late 20s. I think because our environment and priorities changed so much that over time we just drank less and less overall but weekends we did engage in a lot of binge drinking. Wine Mom culture was strong during those years.
When we moved into this house and had our first summer with the pool, we found ourselves hosting quite a few parties. Over time though, our desire to do this waned and the party atmosphere went with it. As our kids got older as well, we found ourselves driving to activities and hosting sleepovers so naturally drinking fell by the wayside. We were still drinking a lot the odd evening and weekend but it was way less than our previous habits and we found ourselves drinking higher quality alcohol.
Then the pandemic hit and like many people we soothed our anxiety with alcohol. In fact, during the pandemic alcohol sales shot up & increased by 2 million dollars a day in our province. Like many people, we also saw our alcohol consumption skyrocket. By the time October rolled around Mr. Tucker and I realized that our consumption had become a habit, that we didn’t really enjoy it as much anymore and that we felt crappy and lethargic. So on October 31, 2020 we made the decision to quit drinking for one year.
In general, the first couple of days of drying out were just boring and flat but we got over it quickly. In fact, my skin got better, my spasticity got better, I slept better and we weren’t exhausted and cranky all of the time. We also found ourselves more productive and we ended up reading more books and doing more creative things. Sure, there were times where it was difficult, such as when we rented cottages with friends (we quarantined beforehand) and Christmas was a bit strange but overall it was a really good year and we saved a ton of money and I shed quite a few pounds.
Halloween 2021 saw us consuming alcohol again but we never really got back to our previous levels of consumption. We had a small Christmas in 2021 which was drinks and cards with family, more outdoor social events over 2022 with friends that were punctuated with drinking and so most of 2021 was phases of drinking followed by weeks of non-drinking. By the fall the shine had worn off on our consumption just around the time we ran the numbers and discovered that we had spent $5500 on booze that year, or about $105 a week.
$105 a week doesn’t sound like much and indeed for what we drink, it really isn’t. It’s about 2 cases of 24 beers, or 4-6 bottles of wine, depending on what kind we buy. Given that we have also hosted a bunch of pool parties and dinners with family, that doesn’t seem like a ton. We also tend to be pickier in our old age and don’t want to drink cheaper alcohol so that adds a premium to the bill. That amount includes the wine I got on my wine tour in Prince Edward County (including Christmas gifts) but not the drinks we had when we ate out (which were few, due to cost).
The truth of it all though is that alcohol just doesn’t work for us anymore. In middle age the hangovers are brutal and long – sometimes even multiday. We also find it gives us low-grade depression, lethargy and crankiness if we drink multiple times a week. In my case as well it causes my muscles to seize & gives me horrible spasticity. In the end, we can find a ton of other ways to get value out of $5500 than to buy alcohol with it.
So are we planning to be teetotalers forever? No. While I don’t see us drinking regularly again I do plan to travel in the future and that travel will probably include some alcohol. It’s also nice to have a drink on holidays, birthdays and other celebrations. What I do realize every time we have chunks of time where we don’t drink alcohol is that I find myself less enamoured with it overall. I prefer feeling clear minded and doing other stuff with my time. Of course, the fact that it can cause even more health problems than the immediate ones should encourage everyone to drink as rarely as possible.
I am not the boss of anyone by all means but like everything else in your life such as consumption, budgeting and investment strategies it’s worth doing a periodic review of things to make sure that they are still serving you instead of just doing things out of habit.