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To drink or not to drink

We’re well into January now, and just as I’m getting bored of eating well, there will no doubt be others across the country who are gagging for an alcoholic drink.

Diane Hall

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Cocktail drink

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Whether these people have signed up to the Dry January movement or they’re just cutting down on their alcohol intake off their own back, a new year is the perfect time to detox. Christmastime, for many people, involves greater opportunities to drink and party, and it’s not a surprise that they would want to give their livers and heads a break after the festivities finish. A new calendar can prompt a new routine, habit or outlook, and January always feels like a clean slate ripe for tarnishing.


Sobriety may not be resigned to the new year, however. According to a report, almost a quarter of those visiting a pub ask for soft drinks or no/low alcohol options.


A friend of mine is part of an alcohol-free cocktail brand, and the business looks to be going from strength to strength. Their recipes sound delicious, but alcohol drinkers don’t down lager or spirits for their sublime taste, which represents a hurdle if they wish to convert them.



For someone like me, who’s teetotal, I would far rather have a fruity mocktail than an alcoholic drink any day of the week. I’ve never been a big drinker, even when I was young. My friends and I would go out at the weekend in the early nineties and by midnight, I’d be making my way home, stone cold sober, whilst they swayed in the nightclub (that’s not a typo). I wouldn’t go home out of principle…truth be told, I’d be bored. In those days, before 24/7 pub opening hours, nightclubs shut at 2am, which meant everyone around me would be paralytic by 10pm. There’s nothing more sobering than watching everyone in the club either square up for a fight because another drunken nut has knocked into them, or random strangers trying to get off with anyone just so that they could call the night a success.


My distaste for alcohol may also stem from a phobia of being sick. My lovely friend could get to that point and happily shove her fingers down her throat, relieve her stomach of its contents, and start drinking again, without even blinking. Not me. I’d be so fearful of the act of puking that I’d stop drinking the minute I felt queasy. Most of the time, this would work, though I can vividly remember (and probably still feel) the times when abstinence didn’t prevent me from hugging the toilet and weeping into the bowl from the vomity violence I’d just experienced.



I don’t remember anyone giving me any grief over my aversion to get drunk back in the eighties/nineties. However, I do feel judged in the twenty-twenties if I don’t drink any alcohol at all at an event. If I say I’m driving, their shoulders relax and they happily move on, but if I say I’m teetotal, I can tell from their expression that this is not quite as socially acceptable. Some people look at me like I have an extra head.


What they don’t realise is that I’m judging them for drinking—certainly, if they’re of a similar age to me. I’m on the brink of 50, and I have long outgrown any need to get drunk. Drinking, for a lot of people, is a way to lose their inhibitions, but surely we’ve learned other coping strategies by the time we reach our half-century? To be fair, I can actually understand a few drinks to calm the nerves—what I’ve never been able to understand is drinking to oblivion, in the name of having a good night. How can it be a good night, if you can only remember the first hour?! What additional benefits do drinkers get when they’ve passed the ‘feeling merry’ stage to ‘drinking that much, my legs don’t work’? Other than: putting themselves in dangerous scenarios, bodily fluids escaping from every orifice, their money literally being p***ed up the wall? Good plan, that.


I can muster up enough social energy and extol plenty of hilarity at events and parties without the need for barley, hops or ethanol. I do wish there were more non-alcoholic options commonly available, though, as Coke and lemonade become flat rather quickly, in more ways than one. It’s no surprise that my friend’s non-alcoholic drinks business is booming—it seems that there are more people like me, if that report is anything to go by.


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