Happy Dry January! As a prior village trustee and liquor commissioner, I have one request: let’s destigmatize sobriety. The decision not to drink — no matter how long — is not just for alcoholics and pregnant women. It is, simply, a healthy choice.
Last summer I quit alcohol because the benefits no longer outweighed the costs for me. Although not always easy, I haven’t regretted it for a moment.
While this was very personal decision, everything I have learned since has affirmed it. Did you know that one bottle of wine is just as carcinogenic as 5-10 cigarettes? And alcohol is the fourth most addictive drug in existence, behind heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine, ahead of nicotine?
Alcohol is the only drug we ask people to justify not using.
I loved the social ritual of alcohol: the feeling of connection and relaxing into a fun evening while clinking glasses with a friend. The loss of that feeling — or the perceived loss of that feeling — was the hardest for me to accept. But then I realized: Glasses clink no matter what you put in them, and my ability to have fun came long before my ability to drink.
It’s also a great time to be sober! The alcohol-free (AF) beverage industry is booming. From high quality AF spirits like Lyre’s and Seedlip to AF craft brews like Athletic and Big Drop, decent beverage options for sober people are growing by the day.
So, as we celebrate Dry January, here are a few things we can all do to destigmatize sobriety:
1. If you host a party, offer AF options for guests.
2. If you own/manage a restaurant or store, carry AF options.
3. If someone tells you they don’t drink, don’t ask why. It doesn’t matter. They just don’t.
4. But if someone wants to discuss their decision not to drink, let them! Sobriety is only as taboo as we make it.
5. Don’t forget that alcohol and fun don’t always go hand in hand. Sober people know how to be friends, laugh, and have fun. Sometimes more fun, in my sober opinion.