Why (and How) I Don’t Drink

by The Discovering Alcoholic on February 7, 2009

Original pic by box of lettuce now at The Discovering AlcoholicA well deserved hat tip to TDA reader David who referred me to the latest New York Times Proof post by Paul Clark, a contributing editor for Imbibe Magazine and blogger of The Cocktail Chronicles.

Now it may seem strange to some that I would mention a cocktail columnist on a recovery blog, but I found his latest piece interesting in the sense that he addresses the dangers of overindulgence (including raising kids) as well as his own reasons for becoming an enthusiast and expert of alcoholic beverages.

Even though Mr. Clark does make some very good points in his column, I feel compelled to offer a different viewpoint.

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He can appreciate the artistry in the product of a master distiller; That’s not hard to understand, I can appreciate the same when it comes to beans and fresh brewed coffee. I guess it’s the reverence of alcohol that always throws me a little off though, considering the societal damage caused by the substance that at least in my opinion far outweighs its merit. I don’t think we will see the NYT running a section on the finer points of heroin use anytime soon, yes an extreme analogy, but logical all the same.

Not all teetotalers are wild-eyed religious zealots with children who erupt into excess with every escape. It seems Mr. Clark may have a tad bias against religion, that’s okay, I have a hard time giving the NYT a fair shake; probably comes from the circles we both run in. My experience is that alcohol abuse is an equal opportunist, although I too see the hypocrisy in those that fail to practice what they preach.

When it comes to kids, I applaud his actions and awareness. I wish more parents realized how greatly their alcohol use affects their children. Our opinions do differ when it comes to abstinence in this regard, not so much that I disagree with the forbidden fruit theory than I just have a hard time with exposing the formative brain of youth to intoxicants. In this respect I may be overzealous, yet the statistics show that regardless of upbringing a certain percentage will become addicted and science has proven that the earlier one starts the more likely they will have trouble.

While I can fully appreciate Mr. Clark’s mastery of moderation; I do think that their can also be a sweet science to abstinence. Just as he can “enjoy the slow suffusion of warmth and the language-loosening properties of drink that enable a preternaturally shy person like me to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger”, I have found my recovery program even more empowering- gaining confidence and self worth without numbing myself chemically. Not needing a drink to unwind, I have developed the tools to do so naturally and without the harsh reality rebound that comes with sobering up.

I have to hand it to Mr. Clark, he does come across as a sober voice of reason in a culture that too often glorifies drunken debauchery, but still want to make the point that “none at all” can also be just right.

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