Dry Times

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Some readers might be participating in a rather new practice called “dry January.” After the holiday celebrations, they are taking the month of January to abstain from alcohol. It’s sort of the calm after the storm, and doctors are touting the value of taking a drinking break. Among the benefits are better sleep, weight loss, more energy, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improved mood.

Psychologists also note that when people take a break from drinking, they have a chance to assess their relationship with alcohol. Some realize that they live better, parent better, and love better without it. Others discover they can’t live without it and by the second week of January they are back to their regular consumption.

I’m not a prohibitionist – drinking alcohol appropriately doesn’t worry me. But I have seen how drinking can negatively affect people and those they love. First on the list is driving while drunk. There is a hardly a day when there isn’t an accident on Long Island roads that was a result of impaired driving. For the fortunate, the accident results in fines – up to $2000, another $2,500- $3,500 in legal fees and if the driver’s license is suspended, there is the cost of Uber rides or getting family members to drive you around. For the less fortunate, add on injury to self or others, or in the most severe cases, the death of one or more people. The risk of drinking is not worth it when getting behind the wheel. Unfortunately this is one mortal sin that is too common.

Public drunkenness is usually imagined as a drunk person stumbling up an alley outside a bar, or a loud incoherent passenger on a subway. But sometimes it’s as near as the person sitting next to you on the bleachers, cheering on your child’s team. Coaches report that drinking among parents has been a problem for some time now. One local Long Island sports league has recently posted banners that read “Stay Sober in the Stands.” Those Yeti tumblers aren’t just filled with water. While those who are drinking think they are getting harmless pleasure from their inebriation, others – including their children – are observing heightened irrationality, crude talk and behavior, and embarrassment that their mom or dad is drunk again.

Private drunkenness at home is no better. There is a big difference between enjoying beer or wine with a meal and needing to “take the edge off” in order to face the day, the night, or anytime in between. Kids need their parents to be alert, to be interactive, and to bug them about what they are doing. Drunk parents are satisfied that “the kids are alright” because they have slipped into their own addictive world of the internet and they aren’t bothering mommy or daddy.

So while I appreciate the benefits of the Dry January movement, I’d like to suggest that as the new year is beginning that we consider what I’ll call “Dry Times.” Let’s take a sober look at the obvious moments to refrain from being “under the influence.” Then schedule dry times during those activities and events.

While those who love us might not give us an extra hug of thanks because we don’t drink at certain times, I’m sure they will notice and appreciate our efforts. And if anyone finds that they cannot keep to their dry time schedule, it is time to recognize that they are powerless over alcohol. And if that’s the case, it would be good to discuss this with loved ones and seek out support to live lives unfettered by addiction.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank U Father Ralph. This was very well said. I hope people will heed your words and give “Dry times” a chance. It will give children a good example of who people really are & how much they are loved by them. Children will have much better memories of their loved one’s when they are older. If parents will only try
    “Dry Times”.

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