Probably one of the most powerful statements I’ve received from people who have written me to thank my for my perspective on the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction low risk guidance on alcohol have come from people for whom these guidelines (and the dire though problematic statement that more than 7 drinks “radically” increases your risk) have caused them distress. I have not sought permission to reproduce their emails, but they basically read like: “I thought I was a moderate drinker”; “I followed the guidelines”; “this worried me.”
Well too bad. Now with the new guidelines if you’re not already dead, you soon will be.
I am of course being facetious and morbid, and that comes from frustration. But consider the mathematics.
If you followed the previous recommendation of 2-3 drinks a day or 10-15 a week (I know the math does not add up, let’s imagine everyone took Monday off drinking–Blue Monday, it’s a thing) from when they were released (2011) in Canada until 2023, (let’s say eleven years due to rounding) you’d be done drinking until you’re retired.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s do this by weeks and imagine someone had 10 drinks a week. This is not unreasonable–one drink a day and three extra on the weekend–and is not the recommended maximum.
52 (weeks/year) x 11 (years) = 572 (weeks)
572 (weeks) x 10 (drinks/week)=5720 drinks.
Now, Let’s see how many weeks that would be if you were to drink 2 drinks per week. It’s easier math.
5720 (drinks) /2 (weekly max) = 2860 weeks.
And how many years is that? 2860 (weeks)/52 (per year) = 55 years.
So if you were 20 when the earlier recommendations came out and you followed them responsibly, now you are 31 and have learned that you’ve burned your alcohol consumption quota for the next 44 years.
And if you have kids, a new job, a jerk of a boss, lived through a global pandemic, or have experienced other stressors in your life and need a drink at the end of the day…? forget it.
Do the math and make your own horror story. Then relax and have a drink. Because stress and fear also have negative health outcomes.