Barley Mowat 

Government, Booze and Your Health

with 5 comments

Happy Sportball Day! No doubt everyone within your eyesight is pouring cheap liquor down their throats and enjoying an afternoon full of FOOTBALL! I’m not sure why you have to yell FOOTBALL! every time you say it on Superbowl Sunday, but you just do. FOOTBALL!

In any event, while pretty much everyone out there is getting all liquidated, I’m embarking on an entirely different path. No, no, no. I’m not doing one of those no-beer-month things that everyone tries once or twice before declaring Fuck That Noise and abandoning the concept. Nope, I’m doing something much more… interesting.

Like “Non-Conventional Intoxicants June!”

You see, I’ve vowed to live February in strict adherence to Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Guidelines, as established by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse. Now, I know what you’re thinking: a government research institute titled the “Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse” must just be a non-stop John Belushi-themed party, right? Well, no. Turns out they’re all a bunch of fucking downers.

Despite my initial beliefs, their guidelines for alcohol consumption are not actually modelled on the average day of Hunter S Thompson but more on the aspirational intentions of Debbie Downer (I say aspirational because, despite outward pretences, Ms Downer is actually hardcore into the horse).

So what are these guidelines? You can look yourself, but why bother going over there and reading some egghead rules on alcohol consumption when you can just trust me to list them out for you. So here goes:

1/ For men, 15 drinks max a week. For women, 10.
2/ Daily limit of 3 drinks for men, 2 for women.
3/ If you’re really tying one on (aka “special occasions”) limit yourself to 4 drinks for men, 3 for women.
4/ When drinking, don’t consume more than 2 drinks in any given three hour period.
5/ Have two non-drinking days per week.
6/ For every alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic drink.

These all seem fairly reasonable on the surface. I mean, sure we occasionally just cut loose, but a limit of 4 pints in a day doesn’t seem too conservative. Oh wait. Those are “standard drinks” or, in beer terms, “12 ounces of 5.0%ABV ale.” Yeah, if those pints are Fat Tug you sailed past your daily “special occasion” limit 2/3 of the way through pint number 2.

In fact, at 2.33 standard drinks per pint, even if I really wanted a pint of Fat Tug I’d need to nurse that pint over three whole hours because of rule #4. Rule #4, in fact, means that I will have to consume liquor slower than my body metabolizes it. Yup, for February I’m everyone’s DD, because strict adherence to these rules mean I cannot actually be drunk at any point this month. Yay me.

Or, to put it another way, when Driftwood inevitably drops Singularity on us this month, it will take me over half a week to drink a single bottle.

So yeah, I’m doing this thing. I’ll update throughout February on how well I’m doing (anyone got an over/under on my first violation?), as well as provide some insight into why these rules have been set at the levels they’re at. I get the feeling this will be a rough month.

Written by chuck

February 1st, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Beer and You

5 Responses to 'Government, Booze and Your Health'

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  1. And….you’re done before you hit “publish”. Valiant effort though and thanks for providing benchmarks for us to aspire towards

    A kindred spirit

    1 Feb 15 at 20:41

  2. Time to find a really nice mild. Tetleys?!
    But seriously, is there a decent 3% mild or bitter in BC?
    Isn’t the back hand of God a mere 4%.


    2 Feb 15 at 19:33

  3. Good month to drink lots of Burnabarian

  4. Perhaps I can shed a bit of light on this subject. The whole point of this drink limit is to avoid target organ damage caused by high blood alcohol levels. This is all based on epidemiological studies of people and their drinking habits. When you look at drinking and health or unhealth, a distinctive pattern emerges. This is the “J” curve of health. When you have 0 drinks a day nothing happens – the start of the “J”. The more you drink, your risk of certain diseases drops- this is the downward dip of the “J”. If you drink even more your risk of disease increases – the upward part of the “J”. This is of course on average over large periods of time. The magic sweet spot, where your risk of disease is higher than if you drink nothing, is about 3 drink a day for men and 2 drinks for women. Women are generally smaller and don’t metabolize alcohol as well as dudes -sorry ladies it’s just science. That is where the three drinks a day comes from. However, this is always called into question for several reasons: people always lie about how much they drink, people forget, the ‘standard drink’ is not well defined, beer and wine are healthier than spirits, binge drinking is not taken into account and so on. So the 3 drinks a day is kind of a myth, but it is all we have to go on.
    Now for the whole 4 drinks per event and 2 per hour etc. This has to do with binge drinking, which is really, really bad. At certain concentrations of alcohol our organs take a beating. Again this concentration is not well defined. The defacto limit is set about the 0.08%BrAC. This is obtained by the average person drinking 60gm or pure ethanol over a 5 hour period. This is on average and varies from person to person. Again it is all we have to go on.
    The rest of these recommendations such as the two days no drinking and one non-alcoholic drink are meant to slow you down. Seems like a good idea.
    As for your Singularity dilemma. Based on a chat with someone familiar with the matter, a bomber of Singularity 2015 will contain 65gm of ethanol. If you were to consume that bottle to yourself at one session, that is considered binge drinking. For the average person that it. You and me sir are above average so it is OK for us.

    Shameless plug for my crappy blog.


    15 Feb 15 at 17:16

  5. Well, thanks Ian. You just leaked the contents of my middle month post 🙂

    I got ahold of some of the studies used to create the standards and you summed them up perfectly. Basically the guidelines are about walking the thin edge of maximal health benefits from alcohol: any less or more and you’re getting less benefits.


    15 Feb 15 at 17:49

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