Conscious Alcohol Consumption, Mindful Drinking, and Moderation

It’s all about balance, they say, and that might be true for many things; however, there's no reason to find balance with alcohol. Alcohol is an addictive substance that creates dependence; you are not missing out on any internal happiness or joy by not consuming it.  

I am all for being mindful, intentional, and prioritizing awareness, health, and wellbeing, but there’s a problem when it comes to terms like conscious consumption and mindful drinking. In short, they are oxymorons. 

I am the last person to want to tell you this. I wanted to believe for years, as a wine drinker, that alcohol was good for me. I wanted to know about the grapes and the soil they came from. I wanted to know the region and the year. I wanted to believe desperately that I wasn’t dependent on alcohol, and it was an empowering choice that I was making to free myself from rules and responsibilities. I thought alcohol was one of my great pleasures in life. I did not want to see it as the bad guy or let it go. I tried for years, and possibly a lifetime, to moderate my drinking mindfully. 

I could moderate sometimes. I really could. You would think this is an accomplishment, but it was actually the worst feeling in the world. It always left me wanting more. Not having as much as I wanted felt terrible, not liberating. Even if I could do it, why would I want to do it?

I became a heavy drinker over time, but my relationship with alcohol didn’t always look concerning. Mostly, it looked normal. Even as a heavy drinker, I could moderate and often did, which made my relationship with alcohol even more confusing. If I could moderate, why would I (or anyone else) quit? The message is that quitting is only for people who can’t moderate.  

As an award-winning sober coach, most clients come to me with a desire for support in moderating their drinking. I understand completely because that was me too. 

We all have a human need to belong. It is normal to want to fit into societal norms. Cultural influences and corporate interests have shaped patterns of alcohol consumption. Alcohol companies invest billions of dollars in marketing and advertising campaigns that promote their products as symbols of social status, happiness, and success. These messages permeate our culture, influencing our perceptions and behaviors surrounding alcohol consumption, often in ways that are subconscious and difficult to resist. We see alcohol as the key ingredient to happiness and success, why would anyone want to let that go? It gives the illusion of the opposite. If consuming alcohol is a symbol of happiness and success, then not consuming alcohol must be for sad losers only. 

We see someone not drinking and label them an addict or alcoholic. It’s backwards to give someone the label when they stop consuming the substance, but that’s what we do with alcohol, and alcohol only. This makes the idea of drinking some, but not too much, sound like the most desirable option.  

The concept of conscious consumption is frequently associated with sustainable practices and ethical choices. The idea of conscious consumption when it comes to  alcohol involves deliberate, intentional choices that prioritize awareness, moderation, and respect for personal well-being. It's about fostering a healthy relationship with alcohol that aligns with individual values and goals, rather than succumbing to societal pressures or unconscious habits. 

The problem? Although being healthy and conscious sounds good, the scientific fact is that no amount of alcohol is healthy. The healthiest amount of alcohol to drink is none. Therefore, the healthiest relationship with alcohol is sobriety, or drinking none at all. Conscious consumption is not ideal.

The idea that moderation is the most desirable relationship with alcohol is scientifically wrong. To feel your absolute best physically and mentally, the amount to drink would be none. Alcohol slows your brain. Why is the goal to dumb yourself down moderately? Alcohol can lead to depression and anxiety, the opposite of happiness. Alcohol has negative consequences for your mental and physical health at any dosage. Why would you want to hurt yourself, even moderately? Why are we promoting this as the ideal relationship with alcohol? It’s not.  

While mindfulness and moderation may work for some, they are not universally applicable solutions. For many individuals, especially those struggling with addiction or mental health issues, the idea of simply drinking less may not be feasible or effective.

Moreover, the emphasis on moderation can inadvertently reinforce harmful stereotypes and stigmatize those who struggle with alcohol dependence or addiction. By framing excessive drinking as a matter of personal failing or lack of willpower, the conscious consumption movement overlooks the complexity of genetic, environmental, and socio-economic factors that can contribute to problematic drinking patterns. This can further marginalize and isolate individuals who are already struggling with alcohol-related issues, making it harder for them to seek help and support.

One of the key principles of conscious consumption is mindfulness. This entails being fully present and aware of one's thoughts, feelings, and surroundings while drinking. By tuning into the sensations and effects of alcohol on the body and mind, individuals can supposedly make more informed decisions about when, where, and how much to drink. 

The problem with this is that alcohol is a drug that directly affects intuition, judgment, and decision-making. In short, when you decide to imbibe, you are throwing mindfulness out the window. If you are drinking alcohol, alcohol is doing the talking. There is no way around it. You cannot be fully aware of anything when you are drinking alcohol. It slows your brain and, in fact, makes you less aware. Mindful drinking is an oxymoron. 

In addition to mindfulness and moderation, conscious consumption involves considering the broader implications of one's alcohol choices. This includes factors such as the environmental impact of production and distribution, the social and cultural contexts of drinking, and the ethical practices of the companies behind the products. By supporting brands and initiatives that align with values such as sustainability, social responsibility, and transparency, consumers can use their purchasing power to effect positive change in the industry.

Conscious consumption of alcohol could also mean supporting addiction. That sounds drastic, but if consumers drank moderately or less alcohol, companies would have 77% less business. It’s safe to say they are in business thanks to the heavy drinkers only. Studies from the Recovery Research Institute report that consumers drinking above guideline levels that are either harmful or hazardous account for over 77% of sales. Does this fit into your holistic well-being and social responsibility plan?  

Conscious consumption fails to address the underlying drivers of alcohol-related harm, such as poverty, inequality, and a lack of access to resources and support services. In many communities, alcohol abuse is not simply a matter of personal choice but is intertwined with broader social and economic challenges. Simply advocating for individual behavior change without addressing these structural barriers is unlikely to lead to meaningful or lasting solutions.

Conscious consumption, moderation, and mindful drinking are terms and ideas to keep you drinking. They give the idea that a moderate relationship is best. These ideas fail to recognize that the ultimate way to feel your best is to drink nothing at all. This is not just true for heavy drinkers or addicts; this is true for everyone. Alcohol at any dose has negative health consequences for anyone who consumes it. Our society is just so obsessed that we can’t imagine letting it go, which is the ultimate freedom and path to joy and happiness. As an award-winning sober coach, I witness this transformation every day. You don’t need alcohol for a fulfilling life at all. Book Your Free 20-Minute Call


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