Canada's Drinking Problem
From pretty pastel brands like Barefoot to wine labeled “cupcake” and vodka stamped “Skinny Girl” to the memes of wine guzzling powerhouse, Amy Schumer, pop culture shows no signs of slowing down the presentation of alcohol as a normal way for women to relax and unwind at the end of the day.
New Year, Sober Me
As a newly sober mom I’ve found it hard to ignore alcohol's presence in Western culture. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are bombarded with “Wine O’clock” GIF’s and online apparel shops selling “On Cloud Wine” and “Sip Happens” tanks.
Between my career and facing financial pressures, my sons’ needs and unfavorable news stories, my life felt like an emotional roller coaster and sipping something smooth at the end of the day eased the tension. The trouble was, booze had become so linked with my relaxing and self-care routine that I didn’t even think to question my consumption. My drinking had a tendency to escalate- one glass turned into two and then three and routinely indulging was beginning to affect my health.
I was an active, healthy, 35 year-old woman who ran marathons for fun- but I developed extremely high blood pressure, became an insomniac and my panic attacks increased in both frequency and severity. I was catching myself beginning to behave in ways that made me cringe the next day. I often felt tired, depressed and had no motivation. I just felt flat.
In January 2020, I decided to give up alcohol for 30 days- I’m on day 26 and don’t plan to have another alcoholic drink ever again. I’m just a few weeks in and my mood has lifted, I’ve started hopping out of bed in the morning, making hot breakfasts and I feel ready to take on the day. I even renovated a room in my basement and created a workout room. I had no idea how much alcohol was affecting me, until I quit drinking.
Alcohol is a depressant; it works the opposite way that it’s currently being marketed to Canadian women. Regular consumption can lead to liver cirrhosis, dependence, withdrawal, acute pancreatitis and cancer. It’s one of the top-five risk factors for premature death. Taking the initiative to research alcohol and its effects on the body was the best thing that I could have done for myself.
The trouble was, booze had become so linked with my relaxing and self-care routine that I didn’t even think to question my consumption.
Canada is due for a culture shift surrounding alcohol; the rate of alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths is increasing faster for women than for men. The rate of women who died from causes linked directly to alcohol has increased by 26% since 2001. The negative consequences of consumption are a growing health concern and a leading cause of injury and death in Canada. No amount of alcohol is safe to drink, and any possible benefit of light drinking, including reducing heart disease is vastly outweighed by the negative health risks.
Canada has strong legislation/regulations governing tobacco sales, but the federal government has been complacent on alcohol policy. We all deserve to be informed about alcohol’s risks and it’s time for our government to step up with a national strategy to reduce the harms from what continues to be moms favorite, but most costly, act of “self-care.”
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Emma Gray