Janet Gourand is the founder of worldwithoutwine.com. Here she shares her thoughts on why the lockdown alcohol ban is a good thing for families.
Did you know that the UK has classified alcohol as an "essential item", whereas of course South Africa has banned it completely?
The UK has seen a 50% increase in alcohol sales as people turn to "drinking at home", whereas SA has seen a decrease in its usual death rates, with 2000 lives being saved in the first 5 weeks of the lockdown due to the alcohol ban.
Cyril Ramaphosa has put the whole country into involuntary rehab, but here are 10 reasons why that could be a good thing for local parents:
1. 20% of social drinkers (i.e. people who drink a glass or two of wine every evening) will become dependent on alcohol over the years – this ban is giving you a great opportunity to test your dependence.
If you haven’t even noticed the ban then obviously you are fine, but if you did some stocking up and are steadily working through your “Lockdown Stash” then you may need to make some changes.
2. Alcohol weakens the immune system and compromises our gut health, and that’s the last thing we should do during a global pandemic.
Keep your immune system strong and give yourself and your family the best possible chance to stay healthy during these difficult times.
Good quality sleep also boosts your immune system: a few glasses of wine might lull you off to sleep, but then it will wake you up at 3am to taunt you until your alarm goes off.
3. Your body treats alcohol as if it is an “infection” (because it is a toxin) - if you binge drink (a bottle of wine every day is binge drinking) then your immune system will go into overdrive as it has to constantly fight the infection.
If you then contract Covid-19 your immune system will have to fight that infection as well. This overload on your immune system can cause a “Cytokine Storm” which will reduce your chances of survival.
4. Parenting is hard – and 24/7 parenting plus home schooling is super hard.
Of course the memes are out there encouraging us to drink and convincing us that everybody else has ramped up their wine habit during lockdown:
This lockdown is not easy so it’s no wonder we are tempted to rely on our old friend alcohol to see us through.
However our kids notice everything and heavy drinking is not something we should be “role-modelling” as a technique to cope with difficult times.
5. Drinking more than a bottle and a half of wine each week can put your health at risk.
Alcohol is linked to 7 different types of cancer and has a negative impact on just about every organ in the body.
High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and liver disease all feature in the frightening list of risks. According to the World Health Organisation if we really want to be healthy we should not touch alcohol at all.
The fact that it is a legal drug and that society has “normalised” it does not make it less harmful.
6. Now that socialising is a distant memory and we can’t just nip out to Woollies for another bottle of wine, this could be an opportunity to reconfigure your life.
All of your usual routines have gone out of the window so it’s an ideal time to try new and radical things - like a few weeks of alcohol free living.
Even a short break from the booze is beneficial to health and at the very least you will be giving your drinking habits a “re-set” and post lockdown you may find yourself drinking less.
7. Quite apart from our physical health alcohol affects our mental health.
Of course we are all anxious – we are in the midst of a global pandemic after all! It’s tempting to numb our fear with wine but in fact that’s the worst thing we can do, as it will just make it worse.
Drinking alcohol is just like pouring gasoline on our anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant which worsens our mood and increases our anxiety.
The best foundation for good mental health is to drink little or no alcohol
8. Way back on planet “normal” many moms spent their days rushing from school drop offs, to the office, to the gym, to the airport, to the hairdresser...
Now the world has stopped and we have permission to get off that treadmill of high achievement and perfection, and instead get up late, bake a cake, chat to your kids, watch lots of movies.
Don’t numb it all away with booze – we might never get another chance to do this!
9. Just because you can’t get your hands on wine doesn’t mean you have to drink water.
There are so many alcohol free choices these days – get a crate of Alcohol Free bubbly delivered and drink it from your favourite wine glass.
As the weather gets colder a mug of hot chocolate could just hit the spot and take the place of alcohol as your “nightcap”.
10. Finally let’s remember to be grateful.
We may feel grumpy because we can’t find our favourite Sauvignon Blanc, but of course many people in SA are coping with very real hardship and going hungry.
When you stop drinking you will find yourself with time on your hands. Put that time to good use and join your local Community Action Network to help the less fortunate – after all giving makes us feel good.
Are you drinking more, or less, during lockdown? Let us know!
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