Before I left Taos last summer, a friend challenged me to go a month without drinking. Some people use January to go dry, but it didn’t feel right this year. A month seems like such a long time to avoid what I enjoy on a daily basis.
But I’m a little concerned by my two-drinks-a-night habit, even if it does generate spontaneous 80s sing-alongs at home. Last year, an article in Mother Jones cited research indicating that alcohol causes cancer. (Here’s a shorter version, and also one that examines whether stopping drinking will lower your risk of it.)
Of course, you can claim that “practically anything will give you cancer these days,” but that isn’t a real argument for continuing to drink. It’s sidestepping the issue. I have yet to dig into the scientific studies, and I haven’t done enough soul searching to determine whether I’m ready to give up alcohol for good, if it ever comes to that, but for now, I thought I’d take it one step at a time.
For the next week, I’m going to try not drinking.
Consider it a shortened version of Lent, which I used to practice (and fail at) when I was Episcopalian and far from the legal drinking age. Chocolate was very hard to give up for 40 days, and I assume alcohol will be even harder.
It has a lot to do with the psychological effect. Once it gets dark outside, my mind automatically thinks, “Time to drink!” I’ve come to depend on alcohol to slow my energy at night (The Cure karaoke notwithstanding), so there are physical effects as well. I also love the taste of a well-made IPA — whether bitter, piney, dank, or fruity — or the smooth creaminess or roastiness of a dark stout.
My family celebrates St. Paddy’s Day next Sunday, which is when the experiment will end, and I expect a Guinness will hit me like a high-gravity beer. I’ll post an update after that to let you know how it went. Until then, I may want to rethink my dedication to the policy of truth.