Some Americans Are Getting Sloshed Through The Pandemic
Perhaps they might consider a few of the many alternatives to drinking through a rough patch.
I’ve been watching the trends in the pandemic and though things could be better, it is what is. Cases are still piling up with more than 2.3 million recorded now. There have been 122k deaths recorded, but more than 1 million have recovered. A very interesting trend is that the rate of confirmed deaths has been falling steadily. Relative to say, March and April, the current trajectory is very positive.
As I surveyed the damage to the economy, I began to wonder if people are drinking more. The answer is yes, and they’re drinking for less since most bars and restaurants are closed to the public. Retail markup is lower at the supermarket than at the bar. So people are buying their own beer and booze for home consumption. They order it online and have it delivered or they head to the state liquor store and load up a cart for a few months of stock.
I have researched the trends and most sources say that Americans are drinking more. Polling says that most Americans say they are drinking responsibly. At the same time, retail sales of alcoholic beverages have increased significantly over the same period last year. Still, some are drinking less, and some have stopped drinking entirely.
What I find most interesting is why anyone would drink at all during the pandemic. This is a time where you need hope, and it’s really hard to have hope when your central nervous system is depressed. Even slightly depressed. You also need your wits about you. Drinking doesn’t make anyone smarter, as we’re all aware that alcohol kills brain cells.
In this one respect, I am in agreement with Donald Trump, a fellow teetotaller. We don’t drink. Trump doesn’t drink because his brother died from alcoholism. I don’t drink because I’ve seen what alcohol does to people and I really don't like the way that I feel after drinking. Besides, I want a president who is sober, and if Trump can abstain, well, let’s just say that I’m relieved about that.
I’ve met people who were heavy drinkers and I’ve seen what they’ve paid in health costs. Alcohol messes with the liver, the kidneys, and pretty much everything else. We can say with some confidence that alcohol compromises the immune system. It makes everything harder, slower, more difficult. I consider alcohol to be a blindfold for the mind.
While going through a pandemic with lockdown and civil unrest may be difficult, it is not a cause for drinking. Drinking is not the path of least resistance. Drinking is a path loaded with resistance. I have found myself that the path of least resistance is sobriety.
I’ve met people who have blacked out from drinking. They have had periods of their lives where they couldn’t recall what they did while drunk. That period of time that they lost, they had no control over. They were not a witness to their own lives during those few hours of blackout. If they wake up in jail they don’t remember how they got there. Now that’s an extreme case, but what is the point of even risking it?
Alcohol impairs judgment, even in small amounts. When we’re sober, we’re thinking of safety. When we’re drunk or maybe just a little impaired, we’re thinking adventure. We’re prone to taking risks when impaired. We lose our inhibitions and then we begin to think we could go downtown where the protests are.
If you want to get high, do something nice for someone else. It’s easy, and it has a very high rate of return, and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about the feelings you will have after doing something nice for someone else. I know this from my own experience.
If I help someone have a better day, I always feel better myself. It doesn’t matter if I’m at work or at home, if I help someone, I always get some juice from it. I always feel better helping someone else. I get this feeling by making donations at the local Savers store. I get this feeling when I help my kids solve a problem. I get this feeling when I help a customer solve a problem that has vexed him for 3 weeks. I get this feeling when I help my wife in the backyard. Opportunities to help someone are everywhere.
There is another opportunity to feel better. Exercise. Yardwork is a great way to get exercise. Work in the garden. Mow the lawn. Tend to the land around you. Watch your garden grow. If you don’t have land to tend to, then go for a walk.
Walking is the most natural exercise that anyone can do. Opportunity costs for walking are very low. Sidewalks are everywhere. Here in Utah, we have trails all over our parks. There is no shortage of places to walk and talk, especially if you have a good friend who has been following protocol. Get a walking buddy and walk if you have time.
Millions of people now have time to walk. They’re getting very generous unemployment benefits, too. We know they have time to walk because some of them are marching in the streets in peaceful protests. They have time to binge on Netflix. They have time for social media. Walking is an easy out. Walking is an easy high. The body is wired to get you high when you walk.
I’m hopeful that more Americans will figure this out during their time away from work. I hope that people who are still working can abstain, too. This is a very dangerous period for our country. We stand a better chance of getting through it sober than inebriated. A sober country can make better decisions. We could be a better country simply through sobriety.