New year, no booze? Dispelling the trend of temporary sobriety

By in Opinions

On Jan. 1, I looked myself in the mirror and swore I’d take a month-long break from alcohol. I was motivated by What’s Your Cap? — a student initiative at the University of Saskatchewan that promotes moderation and provides information about safe consumption.

I had hoped a month of sobriety would help me to save some money, and maybe clear my head. And, although my pledge to not consume alcohol for the month of January was quite sincere, it simply didn’t last. Through this failure, I became more self-aware.

Sobriety is a word with various meanings. At the beginning of this month, to me, being sober didn’t mean much more than being a designated driver. I have lived with privilege, and I have not experienced addiction first-hand.

Repeating the word in a month of excuses, I started to feel uncomfortable with my positioning. To some, sobriety is a lot more serious than my own frivolous promise, and who the hell am I to compare my experience to theirs? Alcohol has never been a point of issue in my life, and for that, I’m thankful. It was easy for me to pledge not to drink — and easy for me to fall back on that pledge without remorse or consequence.

Certainly, if I’ve learned anything from this endeavour, it’s that I am fundamentally non-committal, and ultimately, hedonistic. It was Jan. 2 when I grabbed a beer from the fridge and popped its tab without thinking. I was halfway through the tall can when I realized my mistake, and I immediately wrote it off. “Dry January can wait” was my catchphrase for days to follow.

What stood in the way of my success? My social life, for one. Immediately after swearing off booze, my calendar quickly filled with various gatherings and get-togethers. In the dead of winter, I did not expect to receive so many intriguing invitations.

Of course, I did not need to consume alcohol at all of these events, and I certainly would’ve had a good time at each without, but I live by a standard of fun maximization. My own cost-benefit analysis determined that what I’d gain from not drinking wasn’t guaranteed.

I kept a fairly astute record of every drop I did drink during the month of January. Out of 31 days, 13 were marked with some amount of alcohol consumption. In total, I put back about 29 pints of beer, three bottles plus four glasses of wine, 14 assorted cocktails and five shots. Looking back, I still don’t really regret it.

Dry January didn’t work for me, because I had no real reason to be invested in it. It was difficult for me to commit to changing something that I do not feel needs changing, and I could not reconcile my own undertaking with the actual lived experiences of those who have different relationships with alcohol. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

Text and graphic: Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor