Farid Pesteh: thoughts on Dry January

During « le pot de la Directrice », I had the pleasure of chatting with Marie about the Dry January challenge/initiative that she proposed to the House on January 1st. We talked about the toll that the consumption of alcohol can have on the body, how this toll can be more taxing on female bodies (particularly on the liver), and how the consumption guidelines for alcohol had recently changed in Canada. We reflected on the role of culture in determining how much we drink and on the benefits of reducing alcohol intake..

I also chatted with a few friends about my decision to cut alcohol (or any other “substances” for that matter) completely out of my life for 2023. My year of full sobriety, I call it. I was asked about the reason(s) for this decision; whether it’s something religious or a health concern. Here is my answer after some reflection (and a beautiful conversation with my partner): I have been unhappy with the space that alcohol occupies in my friendships and my relationships with the people around me. Allow me to explain.

There is no doubt that cutting alcohol has enormous health and physiological benefits. You could also make an “ethics” argument against its consumption or even say that it’s better for your wallet. Each of these reasons, or no reason at all, are valid reasons to reduce alcohol consumption. But truth be told, what has pushed me to cut it out of my life is the fact that so many of our social gatherings and interactions revolve around a glass of alcohol. At times, I have wondered why so frequently, offers to catch up with a friend are translated into phrases more or less suggesting that “we should grab a drink sometime” (and always with the understanding that this means an alcoholic beverage).

I began to wonder why my friendships, and my interactions with others, need to somehow be filtered through a glass ‘prism’ containing alcohol. I would sometimes ask myself: would these friendships still hold and continue if this glass was not between us? Where would we come together to chat if it wasn’t in this bar? And would we still feel at ease in each other’s presence, in the absence of this glass? Even if we control how much we drink and never get inebriated or

even “tipsy”, it seems like many of us still need this drink as a social cue to let each other know that we can have a conversation that’s a little more honest, and that we can be a little more vulnerable with each other. And these wonderings made me a bit sad, but also curious to see how honest and vulnerable I can be – amongst friends or when meeting strangers – without having this pool of “comfortable routine” to dive into (drink).

Long story short, I’m cutting alcohol fully out of my life so I can find other ways to get closer to my friends and loved ones. And to find other ways to have fun.

Cheers (with a cup of tea, of course),