Booze is big business in America. In 2016 Americans spent over 223 billion dollars on alcoholic beverages — including beer, wines, and hard liquor. And to remind us of how much fun it is to chug a beer or sip a cocktail, the American distilled spirits industry spent a whopping 358 million dollars on advertising in 2016. That’s a lot of money just to fuel some hangovers!
But many Americans, for a variety of reasons such as religion or health, choose to abstain from drinking alcohol. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they would LIKE to abstain from using alcohol — but are finding it increasingly difficult to do so in today’s alcohol-drenched culture.
Still, it’s really not that difficult to live without having to drink. And the reasons to stop drinking, or to never start, are a big part of the motivation:
How’s your breath?
As a fermented product, alcohol does not stay in the stomach for very long. It gets pushed into the intestinal tract pretty fast, taking undigested bits of regular food with it. This in turn produces gas that translates into either flatulence or belching (always a lovely social grace note) as well as severe halitosis. Regular imbibers have come to accept their own sour breath — though others around them find it offputting.
The morning after
Every American teenager is taught in health class that it only takes four drinks in 2 hours to reach intoxication, if you’re a woman, or five if you’re a man. And then they forget that statistic the moment they hit college. But even drinking in moderation, just a glass or two of something taken in the evening, will disrupt digestion, interrupt normal sleep patterns, and leave you groggy the next morning. This is not the classic hangover from a night of intemperance, but that loggy, muzzy-headed feeling that habitual drinkers must fight off every morning. It’s actually easy to wake up feeling optimistic and ambitious — don’t have anything to drink the night before.
Drinkers find it difficult to follow any kind of healthy diet. The empty calories of alcohol fill them up so that a green salad or a piece of broiled salmon are not very appealing. Instead, they crave salty snacks and sweet carbohydrates as a quick and convenient way to satisfy their diminished appetites. This is the classic route to unwanted weight gain. Plus, drinking requires that you sit still — since it’s hard to jog holding a wine glass, and driving while drinking is a severely punished crime. So a regular exercise routine becomes less appealing than bending the elbow with friends.
Anyone who has been a designated driver with his or her friends of an evening notices that as the alcohol flows, intelligent and interesting conversation dries up. A lot of nothing gets said. The solution, of course, is to drink by yourself — then you’ll be having brilliant dialogues with the smartest person in the world! But sarcasm aside, nothing meaningful is ever said or done under the influence of alcohol. Personal enlightenment comes from sincere and sober pondering and from intelligent, sober discourse with others.
If you have a physical addiction to alcohol, then you’ll need professional medical help to quit. Otherwise, it’s a very manageable habit to break. Just. Stop. Spending. Your. Money. On. Booze. You’ll start to feel better, function better — and you’ll quickly and happily notice how much money you’re saving. What’s not to like?