Beer Here and Everywhere

I work in an office building sandwiched between the beer store and the liquor store.  I start at 10 am and so almost everyday I say good morning to the man sitting on his walker guzzling the largest can of beer he could buy.  I see the same people walking into the beer store with their empties and walking out again with them full.  I watch as pedestrians walk under the building I sit in, to drink the cans they buy next door.  Last week I watched as a father and son bonded while loading cases of empties into the cart to take in for the refund.  Working and living in this area positions me to see the desperation that exists around alcohol and my fellow Canadians.  The number of individuals I’ve passed counting change to use for booze is now too great to remember.  Sadly it’s becoming normal for me to walk past this on my walk to and from work.

But drinking is cool, right?

Whether due to brain receptors, societal conditioning, or merely due to its effects, alcohol is one of our most popular recreational substances.  Unfortunately though, alcohol is poison and if you were to take a cotton swab drenched in vodka and rub it on your neck every day for mere weeks, you’d feel what I mean.  Alcohol burns the uppermost layer of your skin upon contact.  Imagine what it’s doing to our insides.

And I’m no prude nor am I sober.  In fact, about two weeks ago my work stress was elevated so I bought myself some vodka.  I’ve been having a little nip almost every night since then.  It dulls the thoughts and now, fourteen days later I almost crave a drink by the time I clock out of work.  Another thing I’ve noticed is that my tolerance is rising very quickly whereby two wee drinky-poos used to do it for me, I now need three.  Will I need four next week?  Is this the beginning of something for me? Am I drinking responsibly!?

Wait, there’s more!

Upon walking home today from downtown, I found myself choked by the rising number of points of sale for alcohol on the main drag.  More wine stores OPEN LATE!  More bars, more craft breweries with whopping alcohol percentages that should really come with a warning.  I often wonder if tending bar at a craft brewery requires different training since the beer you’re serving can oftentimes boast twice as much alcohol as other beers.

Think of the Children!

But let’s protect the children.  Oh the children and their growing minds!  I’ll never understand how big Tobacco can sit back after having so many marketing restrictions placed on their poison to watch big Alcohol be allowed to sell and thus advertise WHERE THE KIDS ARE!  Have you checked out the beer aisle at Lobl@ws lately?  That is some clear and fog-resistant glass eh?  Sheesh, if only the frozen vegetable aisle could have the same expensive displays!  I wonder how many empty beer cans the staff of these grocery stores find.  I wonder how many school kids can be heard talking about sampling Dad’s beer.

Why are we allowing select grocery stores to advertise that they sell BEER HERE?!  Does it matter that a fresh study published last week in JAMA Psychiatry concluded that the drinking habits in the U.S. amount to a public health crisis?  As for Canada, according to this report from 2015, Alcohol is the top risk factor for disease among Canadians aged 15 to 49.  So we’re making it more accessible?

Last month Apple Ciders were added to the shelves of those select grocery stores in Ontario because popularity demands it.  We know that stress increases consumption, so as life gets stressful Canadians get thirsty.

Buyer Beware?

Of course, in many ways it’s fine that they market to us, warn us of the dangers, and allow us to decide.  But for me, reading “Please Drink Responsibly” signs affixed beside the Caramel-flavoured vodka feel somewhat disingenuous.  Honestly, the Cream Soda bevvie I tried last week was made so that I couldn’t even taste the 5% alcohol it contained.  A kid could guzzle a dozen of those in no time.

Like I said above, I’m no prohibitionist but I am wise to the powers of many drugs, especially alcohol. It seems to many that Canada is dragging its feet on legalizing Cannabis, the safer option to alcohol. They’re still not sure if we too can have Cannabis stores that are allowed to be OPEN LATE like the wine stores are with signs that say CANNABIS HERE!  Like alcohol, they could  warn us of the dangers, but allow growers to market to us and let us decide about Cannabis too.

Canna You Dig It?

In 2017 with a balanced Parliament, we should surely see the dangerous hypocrisy here.  As an aunt of a 14 year old, how recreational substances are marketed to my niece is of concern to me.  Rampant marketing, rising alcohol levels, and better access is not good for Canadian society and yet regulation for booze is getting more lax.  It’s high-time we were real about Cannabis too.

  • Turner Kayston

    I love the article and I cannot agree more!

    Also worth reading is the PDF (I don’t think I can link to it).

    Alcohol Harm in Canada
    Examining Hospitalizations Entirely
    Caused by Alcohol and Strategies
    to Reduce Alcohol Harm

    To quote a little:

    “Drinking alcohol is a part of Canadian culture: almost 80% of Canadians drink,
    and most drink moderately. Still, alcohol harm – the negative consequences of alcohol consumption – is a serious and growing health concern and a leading cause of injury and death in Canada.”
    (…)
    “A recent study estimated that there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable
    deaths in 2015 in Canada. A recent study estimated that there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in 2015 in Canada.”
    (…)

    6 children and youth age 10 to 19 were hospitalized each day (on average) due to alcohol in 2015–2016. Thus not only are children and youth drinking alcohol below most of the provincial/territorial legal age drinking laws, but many are engaging in harmful drinking that results in hospitalization.

    The most common diagnoses for hospitalizations entirely caused by alcohol for children and youth age 10 to 19 were harmful alcohol use and alcohol intoxication (results not shown). Girls age 10 to 19 are more frequently hospitalized for alcohol than boys in this age group; this is the only period throughout the lifespan where hospitalizations entirely caused by alcohol among females outnumber those among males (see Figure 5).”

    “As many as 6 teens a day age 10–19 (more females than males) are hospitalized for conditions entirely caused by alcohol”

    (…)

    All the pseudo-harms of Cannabis that are being fallaciously promulgated by sophism (not science) are only from the truly most pernicious drug of today, alcohol – available in profusion.

    • Dianna Donnelly

      Thank you and well-said!

  • Turner Kayston

    Alcohol:

    We use it and abuse it, to recreate, desecrate, defecate and procreate, often unskilled and unwilled; adjudicated as society’s (albeit, most pernicious) social lubricant, it is rarely addressed by it’s irrefutable definition – a “drug”, a non-medicinal, cytotoxic, neurotoxic and carcinogenic (recreational) hard, drug or solvent.

    Acetaldehyde (a close relative of formaldehyde) is a poisonous byproduct of its prevailing, inebriating molecular constituent. Once metabolised, it becomes even more toxic than it’s parent, alcohol.

    It is commonly found in non-medicinal, “fizzy” or “fruit juice” beverages, in bottled substance dispensaries that carry enough drugs to kill off a whole city block. Also found in restaurants – many times in corners stores, grocery stores and even in family amusement parks, on the wall (in 2D adverts) and even in real time 3D, on a table or in an unlocked refrigerator.

    Alcohol: The only difference is in the language we use such that:

    – You get ‘high’ on drugs, but ‘drunk’ on alcohol.
    – Drug addicts need a ‘fix’, while alcoholics need a ‘drink’.

    The hypocrisy behind this paradox is that one of the oldest teachings of all, is that good people can do evil things simply because they refuse to perceive the real truths. Not always by ill-intentions, but rather by putting their faith and support in sophism, over science. By their actions and in-actions, by their myopic blindness and empathogenic sensory deficits – by their ignorance and silence – they acquiesce to immorality.

    • Dianna Donnelly

      Turner, please tell me you write! Well-said.

      • Turner Kayston

        No, I don’t write… 😉

        I just threw in some of my thoughts, since I really like this article (which I will reference) and because I’m tired of hearing all the unjustified lies and fear mongering dogma being promulgated by our government when they’re talking about the pseudo-dangers of Cannabis, while ignoring all the true harms of alcohol.

        The McMaster University also released a great read, ~ 110 page report on the true harms of today (released a few months ago) in that it clearly shows the true dangers of today: Alcohol, Tobacco and Pharmaceuticals (and their associated industries). A worthy read for anyone.

        The Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research McMaster University
        Cannabis Law Reform in Canada: Pretense & Perils:

        I don’t think I can link to it, but thanks for posting your article.

  • Lori

    Great Article Dianna.
    I agree with everything you say. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances for abuse on this planet. The over marketing, glamorization and way too easy accessibility has made a serious mistake appealing for society to enjoy alcohol. We normalize drinking far too much and is there any restaurant/store now that you CANT buy alcohol of some sort? Drinks in all the fun flavours like example you posted are calling to young kids in a loud voice. Cant even taste the liquor its so sweet…….not good!!! Society has failed to protect “the children” from the overdone onslaught of alcohol advertising which we seem to accept as the norm. Do we really need this recreational liquid in grocery stores and every corner store? I am in Ontario and the new Beer Stores have giant letters on the side that state “MEET BEER” and I find this so very distasteful I cringe when I look at it. Can you imagine if a storefront dispensary posted “MEET WEED” on their window, not likely. These same alcohol saturated officials are the ones deciding that Cannabis cannot have any fun or colorful labels. And yes lets not forget those horrible pictures on the cigarette packages that people are forced to look at after paying tax out the ying – yang. I think to be fair all alcohol should have plain labels, and horrible warnings with nasty pictures of livers, withdrawal, car accident etc so people can see the hidden truth there. Liquor stores be devoid of any advertising and everything behind partitions so the KIDS CANT SEE. Oh and no more carts with kids while Mom/Dad load op on their booze, no one under 19 in the Liquor Stores at all!!! Lets start evening out the playing field a bit cause as a society we punish Cannabis so hard while alcohol seeps through very crack……….I have smoke pot recreationally for decades and as a non drinker I am definitely the oddity at social get togethers. Thank goodness for my Pi THC Distillate Vape pen……….

  • Lori

    I agree with everything both Dianna and Turner have written here. Alcohol is one of the most harmful substances on this planet for human consumption.The marketing and glamorization of alcohol is way over the top and the temptation for youth with all these sweet drinks is totally ignored. Seeing the MEET BEER giant signs on Ontario stores makes me physically cringe. Can you imagine the uproar if a storefront dispensary put a MEET WEED sign on their window, the social outcry would be loud.
    These same alcohol saturated officials that have created such tempting alcohol advertisements and labelling are slamming Cannabis with a ‘no fun packaging’ mandate. Lets even out the playing field here and shutter windows on Liquor stores, stop printing magazines about it,plain package it with horrible pics of livers, car crashes, withdrawal etc.and allow no one under the age of 19 to enter an establishment where alcohol is retailed. Parents can dump their kids in a cart, walk thru load up on booze, take it home put it in the kitchen cupboard and no one seems to be concerned. Yet as Cannabis approaches Justin’s fake Legalization people are panicking about aspects of this plant that they just dont want to reeducate themselves about. More chaos, more uncertainty and misinformation has slowed down the Provinces with distribution issues, it will be way past next July before they sort it out. Meanwhile we all seem to be desensitized to the perils of alcohol as it relates to society. Glad I dont drink, never have….