Alcohol consumption is no longer accepted – it’s expected.
“I’ve always been very resistant to the term peer pressure because I think it’s often a cop out … but when it comes to alcohol what you have is an overarching social pressure (to drink) everywhere –
…people feel that a non-drinker judges them. They also think ‘if you’re not drinking how can you possibly have fun”
Booze bullies are no fun News.com.au
Today is the 12th day of the New Year and the new Decade. Did you resolve to stop drinking or slow down after a heavy drinking holiday season? Did you take a Dry January pledge? How are you doing staying alcohol free this month? Have you felt the push of peer pressure to drink or are people supporting your choice?
One of the hardest things to handle when you stop drinking, even if for a short detox like Dry January, is dealing with people who pressure you to drink. Dealing with people who suggest that there is something wrong with taking a break from the booze. Or worse yet, people who suggest that there is good booze and bad booze and somehow you should be able to take a break from the bad but still drink the good. Well unless of course you have a problem …
The most imptessive Booze Bullying campaign that I’ve seen recently came from the elite of French culture and government. They campaigned against Dry January this year suggesting that wine is essential to a life well lived and even a short break from drinking it daily is somehow base and vulgar. Puritanical was the word used to describe Dry January and the cultures that encourage it.
I have a French friend who drinks every day and has done since she was a child. Unlike me she’s never gotten into any trouble with it. It’s what I’ve heard called The French Paradox.
The French appear to drink sensibly and don’t overdo it. I’m told that wine is every bit a part of their culture as food is — in fact they regard wine as a food. They drink plenty of it, but don’t seem to have the problems we have in Australia, the U.K, and the U.S, where Alcohol Related Deaths have Doubled in Twenty Years. Wine is just part of the joie de vivre in French culture. So I’ve always thought that if only I could learn to drink like my French friend, all would be fine and I could “have my cake and eat it”. The French Paradox.
I’ve done some research into the differences between temperance cultures like the Anglo cultures (those that have had a temperance movement at one time or another) and non-temperance cultures like France. It’s fascinating, to understand the history of temperance in these heavy drinking cultures and here’s a link for anyone who wants to look into it: Temperance Cultures Concern about Alcohol Problems in Nordic and English-speaking Cultures –
It would seem that non-temperance cultures like France are non-protestant, and alcohol (especially wine) is integrated into the culture. Consumption is high and almost daily, and wine is consumed with food with no intention to get drunk. Public drunkenness is rare and so are AA groups and rehabs. Alcohol is regarded as an almost essential part of a good life.
The temperance cultures on the other hand are predominantly protestant, and alcohol in these countries has tended to be consumed more as beer or spirits (although wine has caught on big time in the last few decades). These cultures drink more on a feast or famine basis (leading to today’s binge culture) with or without food, and often with the intention to get drunk rather than to enhance a meal. These cultures tend to favour abstinence programmes like AA for problem drinkers and regard alcohol as a danger or even as evil, whereas the non-temperance cultures don’t.
It seems like a good idea to try to emulate the non-temperance cultures and drink like them, and I understand why I thought that if I could only do that my “problem” would just go away. However, none of this research has actually led me any closer to being able to do that. Maybe we’re just wired differently.
But now I’ve discovered that the French Paradox is a lie anyway.
There are 41,000 alcohol related deaths in France each year. (Here’s a link to an article on this: How alcohol is still proving deadly for the French ). 41,000. That’s a huge problem. It’s not as severe as the problems we have in many Anglo countries and the United States, it’s more hidden, but that’s a massive number of people dying prematurely because of alcohol. It looks from those statistics like France could likely benefit by a government that encouraged or at least did not debunk, a Dry January detox. But regardless of the 41,000 annual deaths in France and the recent horrific statistics from the United States, the cultural elite in France actively promoted the myth of the French Paradox when they protested against beginning a Dry January campaign in their country this year.
According to recent international news:
From The Times
France’s elite refuse to keep January Dry, an appeal endorsed by 42 leaders in their fields and published by Le Figaro… railed against a campaign to follow “the puritan Anglo-Saxon obsession of the dry January”. .. and President Macron quashed a recent attempt to promote le janvier sec, saying that wine was a noble ingredient of French life. ”
From the Wine Spectator
Will France give up wine for January? The country’s president reportedly insists “Non.”
And From the Telegraph UK
Mr Macron offered his outspoken support for the famously French tipple at last month’s annual agricultural fair, confessing to drinking glasses at lunch and dinner.
He also promised not to tighten the so-called Evin law, which restricts advertising on alcoholic beverages.
“It is a blight on public health when young people get drunk at an accelerated speed with alcohol or beer, but this is not the case with wine,”
said Mr Macron, adding that critics shouldn’t “bug the French” over an age-old pleasure.
I don’t think that this has much to do with culture but everything to do with economics.
If the French economy, or at least elite factions of it, were not awash in wine, would it be so important to debunk Dry January? Would it be necessary to look down on the puritanical temperance culture’s habit of taking abstinence breaks if it weren’t in the interest of promoting high priced luxury food and drink? Why make such an effort to promote wine as benign when alcohol kills so many people? Ultimately the French economy is best served by the health and productivity of its people. Not the interests of those who produce and sell Frances’s famous wines.
But France’ s medical community is crying foul :
“Health minister, Agnes Buzyn recently struck a nerve in France when she accused the country’s wine industry of practising “double standards” when it comes to selling wine as a soft alcohol.
“The wine industry today claims wine is different from other types of alcohol,”
she told France 2.
“In terms of public health, it is exactly the same thing to drink wine, beer, vodka, whiskey, there is zero difference.”
Now doctors and academics who signed an open letter published in Le Figaro on Monday have come out in support the minister, saying,
“From the point of view of the liver, wine is alcohol.”
Is it only France where this idea exists that wine is not the problem but people are? Of course not. Booze Bullies, people who pressure you to drink and judge you if you become addicted, are everywhere.
… alcohol is not benign even if it’s wine!
If you feel like you are drinking too much too often take a break. Open your mind to the possibility that you are being SOLD the idea that you need to drink with the same aggressive techniques that you are sold any product. Break the status quo… think for yourself.
Come hang out with us for a while, it’s free, no one will try to sell you anything at all except the motivation to think for yourself in a creative community. We’re private and anonymous as well and off the conventional social media streams which have become a flurry of relentless commercialism selling everything from products to lifestyles to political candidates.
BOOM Rethink the Drink … Our Dry January Posts are here. In a world where you’ll be questioned for not drinking with the crowd, we’ll encourage you to find your own path. Sign up and sign in via our Web Site here or download the free Mighty Networks app and find us at BOOM Community Rethink the Drink.