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WARNING: It’s often been pointed out that I enjoy playing “devil’s advocate” – it makes for thought-provoking writing.
I assume you are aware of the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) have issued revised alcohol consumption guidelines. The new guidelines, released after a two-year research project funded by Health Canada, are shocking, and not surprisingly, the media has taken full advantage of them. The media coverage of the findings was spun to frighten even casual drinkers, so it rises above all the current “news noise” that contributes to our constant fear. (e.g. runaway inflation, the war between Russia and Ukraine, the US reached its debt ceiling)
It’s like all the mainstream media got together for a brainstorming session and decided, “Hey, it’s a new year; why not create another health crisis?” Nothing keeps collective anxiety heightened and everyone addicted to the news like a continuous stream of health crises.
CCSA’s 89-page report can be summarized as follows:
“We now know that even a small amount of alcohol can be harmful to health. Research shows that no amount or type of alcohol is good for your health.”
This is a 360-degree change from Canada’s previous alcohol consumption guidelines, released in 2011. The 2011 guidelines defined as “low risk” up to 10 drinks per week (no more than two a day) for women and up to 15 drinks per week (no more than three a day) for men.
At this point, there are two things you should know about me:
- I am far from what you would call a teetotaler, especially in my younger years, and
- My first-hand experience has taught me that people drink primarily for reasons of social interaction (liquid courage), not because it is nutritious.
I understand; the CCSA has a duty to provide information that they believe is in the public interest when it comes to making informed decisions about a person’s health. I also understand that media outlets are now in a new world order that requires them to drastically change their business model. Understandably, media outlets will do whatever they see fit to keep us accustomed to the news – they need our eyes for ad revenue.
The behavior of the media is not what concerns me. I’ve come to expect their constant “crisis spins.” What worries me is what I hear and don’t hear from those around me and what I see on my social media feeds. Those who rudely panicked when someone questioned the science behind COVID vaccines are questioning the science being used by the CCSA to review Health Canada’s alcohol consumption guidelines.
This, “I will question, even denounce, any science that does not suit me,” tells hypocrisy about our society in which most of us come along to get along.
For your reference:
According to Statistics Canada, liquor authorities sold 3,180 million liters of alcoholic beverages to Canadians of legal drinking age in 2020/2021, an equivalent of 9.7 drinks per week per Canadian.
In the coming months, it will be interesting to see whether Canadians who followed government vaccination guidelines because they believed in the science will now follow Health Canada’s new guidelines to limit their alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per week.
Will bars become dispensers of soft drinks and non-alcoholic fruit cocktails?
Will liquor stores close their doors and join the ‘For Lease’ retail landscape?
Will supermarkets empty their shelves of alcoholic beverages and fill the new shelf space with gluten-free offerings?
Will the Canadian government see a dramatic decline in alcohol sales, a major source of government revenue, along with other vices they tax (gambling, cigarettes), forcing them to raise taxes elsewhere to keep the money flowing into Ottawa’s coffers?
.. or will Canadians shrug their shoulders and continue to raise glasses of beer, wine and liquor, saying to themselves, “What does the CCSA know? I bet their studies were commissioned by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.”
Yes, deciphering the science is hard, especially when it’s filtered through the mainstream media, which goes a long way in keeping you and me in a constant state of dread. Nevertheless, because of the science reported by the media, most Canadians quickly rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated and then boosted. Only a small percentage of Canadians questioned the science of the vaccine and possible side effects down the road. Those who, for lack of a better word, brave enough to publicly challenge the science or say they were uncomfortable getting vaccinated, were bombarded with insults, labeled negatively, their beliefs and values ridiculed, and ostracized by family and friends and their employer. Civil dialogue never took place.
Why are those who publicly say they will ignore Health Canada’s new alcohol consumption guidelines not publicly? burned at the stake?
Unvaccinated Canadians and those exposed in public experienced outrage, which their attackers justified by claiming their “defiant” behavior (READ: Exercising their right to autonomy of the body.) burdened the hospitals. If the media is to be believed, those who refuse to be vaccinated and/or wear a face mask are bringing the Canadian healthcare system to its knees.
Many will quarrel; if a person decides to drink, that’s their business. The logic that drinking is not contagious like COVID. Point made. However, assuming the CCSA science is credible, and therefore alcohol is literally poison, I would expect people to be angry at all the drinking Canadians who are using Canada’s taxpayer-funded health care system to treat illnesses and conditions that could have been prevented. if they had abstained from alcohol, according to science presented by the CCSA.
Where is the outrage against those who continue to smoke in 2023, despite decades of undeniable science that has clearly said that smoking kills? Inevitably, those who smoke end up using the Canadian healthcare system more than Canadians who take their health seriously.
The non-existent outcry against those who question or outright reject the science of CCSA is mind-boggling hypocrisy. No wonder there is so much debate when hypocrisy has become the norm.
There is no denying that most of the health problems Canadians face and seek treatment for through our healthcare system are preventable. There is no doubt that a person’s lifestyle choices have a direct impact on their health. Therefore, don’t all unhealthy lifestyle choices deserve outrage, judgment, condemnation, and exclusion? Or is choosing which science to believe, namely the science that suits us, the new?
I wonder how much alcohol Canadians will consume in 2023.
Nick Kossovan, a self-proclaimed expert on human psychology, writes from Toronto about what’s on his mind. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan