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Let's *really* talk about Dry January

The past few months have allowed for every range of emotion to be felt and unfortunately, it seems that most of those emotions tend to be in the anxious, angry, and exhausted arena. In times of isolation and stress, picking up a drink may seem harmless, and for some, that may be true. However, that is definitely not the case for everyone. For others, they may not realize that stress drinking can lead to alcohol dependence, depression, and increased anxiety. For individuals who struggle with substance use disorder and/or alcohol use disorder, it can be deadly.

Each January a global movement known as Dry January is celebrated – a month where many people put the booze back on the shelf. For some like myself, each month is Dry January, Dry February, Dry March, etc., etc.

I was recently scrolling through Instagram and I can’t tell you the number of posts that were along the lines of, “I need a drink.” Or “Is it too late to quit Dry January?” or “I’m too sober for this shit.” It brings tears to my eyes to read sentiments like these. For so many struggling it can be just the push they need to justify why it’s ok to take that one sip. Ultimately, I think it’s indicative of the drinking culture we currently live in - think Mommy juice, Rosé all day, Sunday Funday, etc.

For those of you who do imbibe, please know that my intent is not to shame or scold you, but to share that the words we use matter and that we each have the power to change our culture, the stigma that surrounds alcohol use disorder/alcoholism, and be the spoken or unspoken supporter of those who struggle with this cunning disease.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol, please know that you are not alone and it is not a moral failing. Sans Bar is made possible by PreventEd, whose work in our community is so important. Their approach to prevention is to start upstream to teach kids healthy coping skills before it’s too late. Their GuidEd program helps teens who may be headed down an unhealthy path and it’s not time for treatment. Their awareness work helps educate the community on topics that are all too often kept behind closed doors and their advocacy work helps both those who need a voice and celebrates those who have overcome this disease.

Please don’t hesitate to email me directly or reach out to PreventEd if you have questions or need help in knowing where to turn.

I am wishing you all a healthy 2021 and can’t wait until we can see each of you at our next Sans Bar event, which may be in the works ;)

Annie O’Donoghue, Sans Bar St. Louis

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