So, the new low-risk drinking guidelines and safe practices were announced on May 17, 2023. As a 21-year-old university student, I can guess what you’re thinking. I have the honour of working closely with one of the scientific experts on this project and STILL the little voice in my head started racing with thoughts.
These are my years to be wild and free. To make memories I’ll retell at weddings, reunions, and funerals. To learn my limits and make mistakes. To try, fail, and then try again anyways because I’m young and I have nothing to lose. I quickly began to realize alcohol is the catalyst behind it all. It’s how we meet new people, court potential partners, bond with our friends, let loose, make mistakes, make memories… shall I go on? Remove alcohol entirely and then what do we have? Can you imagine your local bar on a Friday night without alcohol? Can you imagine your own life without it?
So, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not writing this to say I’m any better. To be honest, I will still drink, and I’m sure you will too after reading the guidelines. It takes time to change culture and we can’t expect to do that in one day. It’s not about quitting cold turkey or shaming everyone who consumes more than 2 drinks a week. It’s about being aware. Knowing what it means when you go back to the bar for another drink. Understanding that even though you brought 4 drinks to the party, doesn’t mean you need to drink all 4. Choosing to not drink sometimes just because. Realizing your life can be just as good, if not better, when you consume less.
These guidelines offer a new perspective to view our lives and the habits that have become so normalized. It is so much more than a critical lens to re-evaluate your Friday night routine. It is a much-needed wake-up call to look at your own life and your underlying motivations. Why do you enjoy drinking? Why do you drink until you lose control and when did that become so normal? What are you chasing with every over-consumption? Or maybe a better question to ask is, what are you running from?
Despite your initial reaction to the guidelines, whatever that may have been, I urge you to use this opportunity to evaluate the role alcohol plays in your life. To understand your motivations behind drinking. To see the world with a new perspective. You might come to find that lowering your consumption will benefit your life more than over-consumption ever has.