Before any of the no drink challenges and dry month trends (like Dry January, aka Drynuary) arrives in this part of the world (I live in Singapore), I’d just like to denounce the entire movement categorically.
Like any challenge happening on Tik Tok or any month-long declarations to follow a strict regime, going dry without alcohol as a movement is no more than following a fad. It doesn’t work, and its intended purposes, while good, ultimately proves unproductive. Let me explain.
Why going dry as a movement sucks
Take Dry January for example. Its motives are great. After a December of festive celebrations and New Years parties that likely involves plenty of libations, why not stay off alcohol for a month. Let the body cleanse, reset and rejuvenate. No better way to kick start a brand new year, right?
Here are my complaints with that. Why only January and only for a month? Has that been proven to be the appropriate amount of time needed? What if that causes undesired results instead, such as binge drinking the moment January is over? What if it becomes an excuse for people to only abstain in Januaries? Is a hall pass given for the next 11 months?
And don’t even get me started on the undesirable social effects, such as drink-shaming and dry-bragging on social media. If someone out there truly had an alcohol problem, such practices will only cause unhealthy relapses or misguided roads to recovery. It invariably does more harm than good, especially for the most vulnerable among us.
Unsolicited judgement, advice, or help may result in unintended effects. It is better to create a healthy environment so that when someone is ready to do something, they know that they can do so confidently.
Enable people to say no for themselves
What should be promoted is for people to know the best way to achieving a conscious balance. Every person is different, and as a society, we should be encouraging every person to be given the freedom, without judgement and force, to pursue that awareness of their own balance in intake.
Some may be comfortable with drinking only on the weekends, and when the urge to have a tipple comes up any other time, they learn to say no. It has to do with a person’s daily routines, work schedules and habits. Perhaps for another, who knows there’s a alcohol-laden party to attend every month, plans ahead and not drink in the lead up to that event.
January may be a particularly bad month for someone to abstain due to many other unforeseeable reasons. There’s certainly nothing wrong if someone decides to pop one open while being with a significant other celebrating their anniversary in January, for instance.
The most helpful thing to do is to enable another to say no by themselves. To not force it down on them with an arbitrary month-long marketing campaign or shaming them in real life or on social media when when they don’t follow what has been dictated by others who have no idea what someone currently goes through.
Kombucha is what works for me
Enabling someone to do right by themselves has nothing to do with talking sometimes. For me, it was all about finding an alternative beverage to satiate that thirst for booze. For me, it was kombucha.
There’s just something about its fermented quality and natural fizziness that mimics alcoholic drinks like beer, cider and sparkling wine. The taste is layered and complex too, which I like. Kombucha scratches that itch for me to have a wave of flavors awash in my mouth. Something I look to cocktails, sakes and craft beers for.
I’m not saying that kombucha is going to work for you, and that’s my point. It’s going to be different for everyone. For someone else it might be fruit juice, or something completely unrelated like spending more time at the gym, walking the dog or just staying off social media. Sometimes, it’s even about changing the group of friends you hang out with.
Much has been said about kombucha’s health benefits as well, so I don’t think there’s any need to rehash that here. The point being you should be looking for a healthy(ish) alternative.
It’s also not about hating on alcohol. Everything and anything can be good or bad for you, depending on how you as an individual chooses to use it. Even something as neutral as water can be very, very bad for your body when drank in excess. You just need to be mindful and conscious of your own balance.
So what I practice is to be aware of my intake. Appreciate alcohol’s flavors and nuances for what they are, and if you realize you’re drinking too much, find an alternative. Focus on getting to a healthy balance and discover what satiates the thirst in you for yourself.
To point is to love your body enough to care for it personally. You’ll be surprised how much more effective it can be, rather than to displace the responsibility to take care of yourself to an arbitrary, uncaring 30-day block on the calendar.