1, 2, or 3 Quarantinis…Am I Drinking Too Much?


1, 2, or 3 Quarantinis…Am I Drinking Too Much?

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, April 30, 2020

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During this time of uncertainty, increases in positive COVID-19 cases, and 12- or 24-hours lockdowns, you may find yourself drinking more often than usual. It has been proven that during and post times of catastrophe, there is a tendency to drink more alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol may worsen the symptoms of many mental health conditions. Alcohol overuse can lead to mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Depression and heavy drinking are intertwined as either condition increases a person's chances of experiencing the other. So, for these and other reasons, it is very important to manage your alcohol intake.

In the hopes of trying to maintain as balanced a life as possible, we must take care of our own mental and physical health, which includes responsible drinking. We will have to keep ourselves in check, as while at home there are no drink marshals, drink responsibly signs, or hydration decks. Additionally, in homes where there are children, parents must demonstrate positive action to set examples for their children. Here are some reminders about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and how to drink responsibly while at home.

Human Physiology & Alcohol

• The form of alcohol found in liquor, beer and wine is ethanol, which is a drug: a tranquiliser.

• In moderate doses, ethanol can have beneficial effects of causing relaxation, stimulation of the appetite, heightening of pleasure, and providing a sense of euphoria. In larger doses, it becomes toxic — a form of poison.

• Alcohol is not digested by the body the same way foods are. Instead of entering the digestive system, it passes through the wall of the stomach or small intestine directly into the bloodstream. An alcoholic drink taken on an empty stomach empties itself into the blood stream within 20 minutes! If there is food in the stomach, the transfer is delayed, especially if the food contains fats such as cheese, meat, eggs and milk.

• Carbonated beverages (sodas) in the digestive system speeds up the transfer.

• As drinking continues, the concentration of alcohol in both bloodstream and brain increases. This diminishes inhibitions and judgement making the drinker less accurately perceptive of reality. As intoxication takes over the brain function, the alcohol impairs motor ability, muscular coordination, reaction time, eyesight, and night vision.

• Efforts to sober up, such as drinking coffee and soup are pointless, as nothing can speed the liver up to break down the alcohol. The liver breaks down only 1/2 ounce of alcohol per hour! The rest of the alcohol will continue to circulate in the bloodstream. This means if you take one drink, the body can break down the ethanol. However, multiple drinks will cause alcohol to circulate through the bloodstream hours after being ingested.

• As alcohol dehydrates the body, it is recommended that drinkers consume water before, during and after consumption. A drinker who is intoxicated is not fit to drive!

7 Ways To Keep Those Drinks In Check!

1. Keep track of your daily consumption. Make a note in a book or you can in an app. After week one, take a look at what you have consumed. Sometimes, the reality hits us when we see the results in writing. You can continue to note any changes to your alcohol intake and make adjustments as needed.

2. Set limits on how much you drink. The recommended target if you must have a drink is one drink. Now, if possible, try to not have that one drink every day. For our many wine lovers, the recommended intake is one glass or 5 ounces. If you are drinking one bottle of wine per day, not judging, but you have consumed too much.

3. Consider non-alcohol replacements. You could try replacing that glass of wine with some tea. Some chamomile, ginger or peppermint can be quite soothing.

4. Do not adjust your rules. Keep the rules and limits you set for yourself. Do not throw it all to the wind. Remember, you continue to work on a better you even through the confines of COVID-19.

5. Shift focus. I know the cocktail you just created is beautiful. Instead of focusing on it, however, focus on the people around you. Let the moment be about the friends and loved ones. For those persons in self-isolation, that may be a hard task, but having prepared the drink, why not make a call to a friend of family member or log onto Facebook or Instagram and see content others have posted.

6. Track your thoughts and circumstances. I am no psychologist, but think about it, what was happening during the time you poured that glass of wine or vodka? Could it be the children asking you the same question for the 10th time? Or, you realised it was time to prepare another meal, again! Or, even another team meeting via Zoom! Think of what you could do instead to soothe those feelings. Look on the bright side, if it's the 10th time asking that same question, make a song with your children about the answer. If it's the meal again, get creative, look for a recipe or do takeout if possible. And if it is that dreaded Zoom meeting, get all dolled up, flip the switch and make the magic happen!

7. Treat yourself. Replace that glass with something else. Try meditation, chocolate (not too much), baking, board games, IG time, or even a nice cold shower could do wonders.

Please stay safe and continue to take care of you.

Readers' Grapevine Club: If you are new to wines and want to join us on our wine discovery, then this is for you. On the third Thursday of each month, I will highlight your feedback on our grape variety/vine of the month. The Grapevine of the Month is chardonnay. There should be a bottle somewhere lying around the house. Share with me your feedback on what you thought about the wine and your overall wine experience.

Grapevine of the Month: Chardonnay

Readers' Feedback:

Extraordinary wonder and joy are interwoven through ordinary life; seek them relentlessly. Please share with me your wine, spirit and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer — The University of Technology, Jamaica

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