Many people expect from me for a strong justification when I announce I don't drink. They come up with all sorts of theories: maybe religion issues, maybe my drunk parents would beat me up in childhood or, my personal favourite, I'm an AA and erasing my heavy drinker past is part of my therapy. They usually get very disappointed when I can't come up with a really good story.
There isn't a good story behind my choice. I grew up getting used to the fact that drinking is a part of your path into social coolness, boosting your peer-success and filling up the book of memories with alcohol related episodes - most of them, decadent, humiliating and, to my eyes, deeply sad. Sometimes, to add some drama, I say I promised to my late grandmother, in her death bed, that I would never drink. They fall for it and I always get that tender-eyed-sided-head puppy-lover "ooohhhhh" reply. *Sigh*
With its deep cultural roots, alcohol is a definite part of today's world - even in the alcohol forbidden societies, such as Muslim. It's a strong industry that spreads its tentacles to all aspects of our lives - sponsoring events, jobs, with heavy social impact in health care, etc. It's immune and even aided by financial crises, as people drink more when they're depressed. Nevertheless, its also a source of genuine pleasure and collector's item - there are even social drinking apps, to boost your social alcohol-related experience.
Marketline estimates a growth in the alcoholic drinks market by 2.4% in 2011 to reach a value of $1,009.7 billion. In 2016, the global alcoholic drinks market is forecast to have a value of $1,161.8 billion, an increase of 15.1% since 2011. Now, isn't this scary? Big business...
I think I developed acceptable skills for blending into an atmosphere where most people are tipsy or worse. Besides, I can drive after. So, I'm the friend everyone likes around. As I don't drink, I don't smoke either. For the rest, I'm kind of normal and, embracing the Amsterdam experience, I have even tried space-cakes a couple of times. In the last of these, I was high for almost 20 hours. Not fun.
But what about being cool in my teenage-hood? Everyone wants to be cool and relaxed. And so did I! So, in my early teens, I started learning the guitar, a long-termed coolness plan. And still I hope to get there someday - maybe then I can celebrate with champagne - apple based, of course!
Text and photos by Rafael Fraga © 2013
rafaelfragamusic |at| gmail.com
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The harmful use of alcohol is one of the world’s leading health risks. It is a causal factor in more than 60 major types of diseases and injuries and results in approximately 2.5 million deaths each year. (...) The total number of deaths attributable to alcohol consumption was estimated to be 2.25 million in 2004 . This accounts for more deaths than caused by HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis. Thus, 4% of all deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol. The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world’s leading risk factor for death among males aged 15–59.
Alcohol consumption is estimated to cause from 20% to 50% of cirrhosis of the liver, epilepsy, poisonings, road traffic accidents, violence and several types of cancer. It is the third highest risk for disease and disability, after childhood underweight and unsafe sex. Alcohol contributes to traumatic outcomes that kill or disable people at a relatively young age, resulting in the loss of many years of life to death and disability.
From the WHO World status report on alcohol and health, 2009