MGU 172 | Drinking Alcohol

What’s the point of drinking if you don’t get drunk? It’s a common question among many people who have not yet come to terms with the different reasons why some people opt not to consume alcohol. This prompted Whitney Lauritsen to post a series of mocktail videos to spread awareness on inclusivity when it comes to our drinking culture. The shame is real when it comes to alcohol consumption, and who would blame non-alcohol-consuming people if they opt for alternatives? Whitney discusses this with Jason Wrobel in this episode. They also discuss a variety of topics that run the gamut from sober living to alcoholism with some segues into related topics on consumption habits. Stay tuned for this giddying yet seriously sobering conversation!

Listen to the podcast here:

“Do We Drink To Get Drunk?” And Other Reflections On Alcohol

An interesting thing happened to me at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. I’m sure a lot of people can say things like that because 2020 was an interesting year. It’s an early time to be talking about 2021. I posted a video on TikTok and I don’t remember the exact date. It might have been somewhere around Christmas, New Year’s, that timeframe. It was showing people that you can make non-alcoholic cocktails, also known as mocktails using a product called Seedlip. This was not a sponsored video, but Seedlip had sponsored me at the beginning of 2020. I had a lot of products left over. I wanted to use them.

I discovered I was supposed to use them six months after opening them, and here I am a year later, they’re still good. I was inspired to make this video because I had a conversation with somebody who says that they don’t drink. I’m somebody who drinks very lightly. I don’t consider myself a drinker or a non-drinker. I fall in between. It’s not something I think much about. When I call myself a drinker, occasionally I drink alcohol. I’m not sober. Jason is in the same category. He drinks less than I do. During COVID I found myself drinking a little bit more often. I don’t know why. Maybe it was just boredom. I started drinking a little wine. We’ve talked about this in some of the other episodes, but I do enjoy drinks even when they don’t have alcohol in them. It’s not about getting a buzz, getting drunk, getting wavy as some people call it. It’s about the experience.

I love the taste of drinks and products like Seedlip. There are a variety of products similar to them, which are recreating the experience of alcohol without alcohol. In the Seedlip case, they’re non-alcoholic distilled spirits. It’s what they call them. They don’t taste like alcohol. They taste like spices. They’re made with herbs, barks and citrus peels. They’re delicious. There’s another brand called Kin that I’ve been wanting to try. There’s a brand called Ritual. I’m starting to discover all these wonderful options. Another one that I tried, which I talked about on the show once is called Curious. They make elixirs and their tagline is “Shaken not Slurred” because they replicate this experience of a delicious cocktail without any alcohol. I’m curious about it. I love beverages.

I make this video on TikTok about Seedlip. I don’t think much about it. I’m creating a ton of TikTok videos usually one a day. I make it and I move on to the next one. Lo and behold, this video blows up. It starts gaining traction and comments. People seem interested. They’re asking a ton of questions. There are many comments. I can’t even keep up with it, but I’m fascinated by this response because people are starting to take sides, but I don’t know if that’s the best way to describe this because some people are saying things like, “What’s the point of a cocktail if you don’t get drunk.” Some people are saying, “This is great. I don’t drink and I didn’t know this existed.” This whole conversation starts to develop and I’m trying to keep track of everything. You’d laugh at this, Jason. I don’t know if I told you this. I downloaded the comments into a spreadsheet and I found this cool tool that allows you to do that.

I had to hold back uproarious laughter when you said the word spreadsheet because a little bit of insider information that I’m not sure we’ve ever disclosed here on the show. Whitney is known, not only by myself but our close friends and business colleagues, as one of the most organized people we have ever known. I believe you’ve also been dubbed The Queen of Spreadsheets. Maybe it was Tess Masters. Maybe it was someone at some point years ago who was like, “Whitney is The Queen of Spreadsheets,” and you are. That’s why I do laugh that you made a spreadsheet out of TikTok comments and also not surprised.

It helps me organize things and being someone that falls in the type A category of life, I process information when I can see it visually. I like to organize things for me to better understand. I love research. I love analyzing. I was wanting to find a system so that I could address these people. In this first non-alcoholic video, I was intrigued by what people were saying because it opened my eyes. Being somebody who’s not sober, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with alcoholism. I don’t have a health condition. I’m not religious. I don’t have any of these big reasons not to drink. That’s why occasionally I do drink. I like the experience.

A lot of people enjoy alcohol for the social side of it. This was the main inspiration for making this video. I wanted people to feel included. I wanted people to feel like they could have a drink in their hand and be around people that might be drinking alcohol, and nobody can tell the difference. It’s like being vegan. When you go to a party and there are vegan options, you feel included. If you have food that other people are eating, that happens to be vegan, that’s even better because no one is going to single you out for being vegan.

This can be challenging socially. Granted we’re not socializing quite as much because of the pandemic, but there are many examples of this even online. I went to a little virtual holiday party and a number of people were drinking. Nobody knew what somebody was drinking or not because we weren’t that close by. It felt like you could be part of the experience simply by having a drink, whether it was alcoholic or non. That’s why I made this video and started paying attention to all these comments. I thought, “I’m going to make something else, a spinoff of this video.”

In a virtual holiday party, you can still be part of the socializing experience by simply having a drink, whether it’s alcoholic or not. Click To Tweet

I made a few more, another mocktail. I made one with coffee because coffee is a big focus of mine with my new eBook, The Mindful Mug. I’m passionate about coffee. Here I am wanting to make videos about coffee but somehow this mocktail video takes off. I know this is a long story. In the back of my head, I’m feeling like I better get to the point quickly because I’m reading this book called We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee, who may be a guest on our show very soon. The chapter I read was like, “Get to the point quickly. People don’t want to hear you ramble on.” I tend to have a lot of backstories, but these details are important.

Long story wrapping up here is that I made a spinoff video explaining why mocktails are beneficial to people. Many people in that first video were like, “What’s the point?” That was a phrase a lot of people were using like, “What’s the point of drinking if you don’t get drunk?” I think they were genuinely curious and some people might be making fun of this. This is the thing that’s super fascinating. I want to hear your opinion on it as somebody who doesn’t drink that much. Typically when you and I go to a party, I might have a glass of wine or a cocktail, and you usually don’t. I can’t wait to hear your personal experiences with this that I can’t relate to at this point in my life. I realized that there’s a lot of shame in not drinking. Shame is such a word and an experience that I’m passionate about. When I started realizing that people wanted to feel included badly and they didn’t want to feel shame, I was like, “This is my motivation.” Now, I’m making more videos about not drinking, and then my next concept is, how do I pivot this into a bigger conversation about shame and inclusivity?

First and foremost, before I talk about my experience with drinking, my consumption choices, and why I choose to do what I do, it reminds me of a portion of the conversation we had with our guest and mutual friend, Jason Horton. It was talking about a lot of social media content creation and the backend underground of being an influencer, and the business mechanics of that. It was a great conversation with Jason. We encourage you to read that one. One of the portions of that, Whitney, that you reminded me of, and the three of us in that conversation. Perhaps if there are any readers who are also content creators that you put all of this time, effort, planning, and strategy into a piece of content, and it doesn’t get the type of views or engagement or response that we would hope or intend. You do something like this, where you did have an intention and you wanted to highlight this wonderful product, Seedlip, but it sounds to me like you didn’t go into it with, “I’m going to spend all this time and all this production budget. I have this storyboard.”

We know what that’s like to put all that effort, time, and oftentimes money into producing something, and then it flops. It’s interesting you release this with no expectation. You didn’t have this intent of, “I’m going to create this massively viral video.” You just did it and released it. There’s a lot of wisdom in that. I endeavored to continue to focus on that style of approach rather than, “I spent all this time, money, effort, energy, it ought to do good.” It’s a great lesson in releasing any expectations of how our content or creations are going to do in the world, and then being pleasantly surprised when they do because there aren’t expectations. That’s the first thing.

On that note, that happened to me with one of the follow-up videos I did, which was about why people don’t drink. I spent so much time on that video. I remember working on it thinking, “Why am putting so much energy into this?” It might get a few hundred or a thousand views. That’s typically what I receive on TikTok. That mocktail video has blown up my whole account relative to my experience. I put up this follow-up video, having put energy into it. To your point, I remember thinking, “I’m putting this piece out because I feel passionate about this and I want to acknowledge people.” That was my driving factor. I do think that’s incredibly important because it is easy to get caught up in the numbers. If you focus on helping and serving people, sometimes it also has the benefit of the numbers. When I made the main follow-up video out of a few, I put it out there and I was on TikTok casually watching the response.

There was a moment where it went from around 500 views to 6,000 views in a minute. I thought, “What? I could not believe it.” As of the time of this recording, it has almost 300,000 views, which for me is huge on TikTok. The comments are flooring me. I’m definitely turning this into a spreadsheet because the last I checked, there were over 700 comments. My desire is to go through and understand these people because they’re clearly passionate about the subject matter that they are taking the time to comment. Hundreds, approaching a thousand people are commenting on this video that I made. My heart is swelling with compassion for them. That is one of the most rewarding feelings above and beyond any metric from social media.

The psychology of this is fascinating. We were talking before the show about some people we know that are aligned with sober living and have come from the entertainment background, music, and things like that. You were sharing some of the comments of people who have certain medical conditions or religious beliefs that make them choose not to drink alcohol. You asked about my personal philosophy or perspective on all of it. I’m not anti-alcohol at all. For a variety of reasons, I have chosen to be mindful and judicious about my consumption.

When I was in my mid to late twenties, singing in different bands, I remember drinking a lot before shows to loosen up. If anyone knows me even a little bit, you know that I tend not to have a lot of inhibitions, but when you’re getting on stage and singing a music set for a crowd you’ve never seen before, then it gets nerve-wracking. You get a lot of butterflies. I found that drinking helped to reduce that sense of fear or nervousness. I remember very vividly in 2005, I wasn’t playing a show with a band. I went out to Detroit to see another band.

MGU 172 | Drinking Alcohol

The Mindful Mug: A Book About Conscious Coffee

I got so drunk and this wasn’t a nightly thing, but I remember this one particular time of so violently drunk. In the bathroom, at my townhouse in Detroit like projectile vomiting. I remember my head over the toilet bowl and saying to myself, “Don’t do this again. Don’t get stupid projectile vomit, blackout drunk.” That was the last time I got drunk. I’ve been buzzed and tipsy. I’ve had a little bit of wine here and there. At this point, I might have a glass of wine a few times a year, a couple of shots. I do Japanese whiskey but I only do that on special occasions. I’ll take a shot at Japanese whiskey. It’s more of like a ritual rather than something I need as a social lubricant or something to dissolve my inhibitions.

The other thing that I mentioned in this show a little bit was I’ve had a few flare-ups with gout that you’ve been present too of how excruciatingly painful that condition of gout can be when it comes on. I realized that alcohol helps to increase the level of uric acid in your body, which if you don’t flush out the uric acid forms dagger-shaped crystals in your tissues, which is also known as gout. I don’t drink that much simply because I do not want to experience that level of pain in my body. If anybody doesn’t know what gout is like, the tiny dagger-shaped crystals is an apt description. It is some of the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Long story short, I like alcohol in very small doses for celebratory reasons or for ritualistic reasons, but I limit it because I realized that if I do it too much or even moderately, I don’t feel good physically. For my personal health, doing it too much is not good.

It’s interesting when you start to learn more about the reasons that people eat and drink. That’s probably why the subject matter is fascinating to me. It’s such a complex thing because it’s literally connected to us and our survival. We need food and beverages, at the very least water, to survive. You then tie in the social element of it and that’s a whole other level. I’d be fascinated to do some more research on if drinking has gone up or down during the pandemic and how that’s changed. I started drinking alcohol a little bit more often and it’s hard for me to pinpoint why. It felt like it was more curiosity and boredom.

I also think I was influenced by social posts around people saying, “I’m drinking to get through this pandemic.” Maybe that subtly encouraged me. I remember going to the store and picking up canned wine and thinking like, “This is fun. I’ll try it.” I got on this canned wine kick and then that felt expensive. I started buying bottles of wine occasionally. I went through that phase. Now, I’m more interested in hard seltzer and not just White Claw, but there are all these other brands that have hard seltzer and that tends to be keto-friendly as well. I like that flavor experience, but the more I step back and examine it, I like the flavor. The buzz doesn’t always feel good to me.

On the social side of it, if I don’t feel like I’m doing what other people are doing, like at a party when there’s a tray being passed around of champagne, usually I’ll just pick it up because it’s there. Now I have to make a deeper effort to have alcohol. I’m curious how many people are drinking less as a result of those things. It’s not as social and maybe access is reduced. If you were going to a lot of events that would have alcohol, maybe you’re drinking a lot less. Maybe you’re going to the store less. You’re not going to the bars to hang out. A lot of those scenarios have changed, but on the other hand, there might be people that drink more because they’re trying to numb themselves and cope.

That’s another topic I want to talk about with you, Jason, because I’m fascinated with this. One video I’m planning on making is diving in deep as an examination about why people drink to cope with life. One of the comments that stuck out for me was this guy saying, “If I drink something and it doesn’t make me forget my pain, then I’m not interested.” I know it’s a joke and it’s relatable, which is what makes it a joke. If we step back and take that seriously on some level, if not a major level, that person probably meant that for real.

Many people drink to forget, to numb and to feel more comfortable. With this show being about discomfort, one of our big focuses is like, “What if we leaned into that discomfort instead of trying to numb it?” I’m curious for you, Jason, do you have anything right now that you do or take to consciously numb yourself when you’re struggling? If not, how have you been handling your struggles? I’m not sure how much you want to share, but I know offline, you shared some things with me. I want to be respectful of your personal life. This idea of coping and numbing as a subject matter, I’m curious to hear your opinion on.

I have been experiencing an intense bout of depression and suicidal ideation. I’m going to be totally real about it. I talked about this. I posted something on Instagram at the end of 2020 from the heart talking about what I went through in 2020, not to compare, not to be like, “My struggles are greater than your struggles are. My triumphs are greater than your triumphs.” I just wanted to share something from the heart. I did talk about feeling horrifically depressed and suicidal.

During the holidays, especially in between Christmas and New Year, it was brutal. I’m still processing a lot of interesting old traumas that have come up to be looked at again, that I had done a lot of work on with my therapist and in different modalities. Sometimes deep and traumatic psychological wounds are very sticky. They’re resilient in terms of how they grow different heads like the mythical Hydra in our lives. Without getting necessarily too deep into the nuances of why I think I’ve been feeling depressed. I’m getting it a little bit. I’ve been missing my family. I’ve been missing my mom.

So many people drink to numb their discomfort. But what if we leaned into that discomfort instead of trying to numb it? Click To Tweet

I’ve been feeling extremely lonely. I’ve been feeling an attitude of like, “Great, we survived 2020. No one is handing out gold medals.” It’s not a feeling of triumph. It’s just been a feeling of sadness and depression. To answer your question, I have noticed that I have in moments been compulsively reaching for crunchy sugary things. I’ve talked about this in terms of my struggles in our Consistency Code community, which is one of our courses that we have a great engaged online community for. I’ve talked about it in there. I’ve talked about it on the show previously that one of my Achilles’ heels in terms of my eating and my consumption is sugar and crunchy things.

I find that if I’m stressed, depressed or anxious if I can find a salty, sweet, crunchy snack that tends to somehow soothe me temporarily, but it doesn’t make the trauma go away. It doesn’t make me not subject to processing my pain, depression and those things. It’s a temporary balm. I’ve noticed myself eating more sugar, more crunchy things, more snacky foods, and less good nourishing meals. The other thing too, I’ve been having a lot of insomnia. Not only for my pain from surgery and the recovery I’ve had from my motorcycle accident, but to allay the insomnia.

I’ve been doing a lot of CBD, THC, magnesium, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that a coping mechanism per se. I’m not using drugs to escape. I’m using them to sleep. Maybe a person could look at that and say, “You’re using that as a crutch to help you sleep.” To that I say, “So fucking what? I need to sleep.” I find that if I go 2 or 3 days with insomnia, I’m a wreck. In essence, I’m trying to pay attention to how I use sugar, snacks, and processed food to temporarily distract myself from the pain, fully knowing intellectually that it’s not going to make the pain go away. There’s that layer to it of, “I’m eating this food, I’m drinking this alcohol, I’m doing this drug. Am I doing it to try and escape knowing God damn well, I’m not going to escape the thing that I’m facing?” That’s the thing, on a basic intellectual level, we know it’s not going to make the problem, the suffering, or the trauma go away. It’s just going to delay the feeling of it.

I feel extra compelled to explore this subject matter because it’s normal to drink. It’s normalized in our society. It’s seen as a very common, acceptable thing to do. The more that I have been reflecting and observing all of this response, I see that there are many ways that alcohol has affected people negatively. It’s interesting because it reminds me of drugs and pornography. These are subject matters that we’ve talked about in some episodes. I’m not anti most things. I don’t think in general I’m anti because I don’t want life to be black and white even though I’m vegan, for example.

I’m trying to say this out loud properly because I supposed I’m anti-animal products but part of me still has a sliver of acceptance for people because people make different decisions for different reasons. I can’t assume that their reasons are bad. We put so much judgment on people for what they eat and drink. This is why the subject matter is triggering. On the same note, the more that you look at people and listen to their reasons for what they do, you realize that there is so much happening in other people’s lives that we don’t understand at all. That’s part of the reason this is intriguing to me.

I saw this video on TikTok and somebody I might reach out to have as a guest on our show because this is incredibly fascinating. She’s doing a mini-series on TikTok about what it was like to grow up with a mother who was a mommy blogger. She said that her mom started blogging when she was about eight years old. She’s in her twenties now. She’s sharing the experiences she had and mostly bad experiences she had. Because her mom was so obsessed with blogging, that impacted her life as a child in a negative way.

One of the videos she talked about her mom’s use of alcohol. Listening to her, I was like, “It sounds like it’s tough to grow up with somebody who drinks a lot of alcohol.” In the context, it was about how it’s acceptable. This is fascinating. I’m getting excited about this because I’m like, “I never thought about this.” She was saying how it’s incredibly acceptable for moms to go on their blogs, on social media, on their private social media accounts like Facebook with their friends, talking to other people in whatever form about drinking because their children are hard to deal with. This girl is explaining in her TikTok video. She was like, “It was tough for me mentally to see my mom say things like, ‘I’m going to need a glass of wine to get through this day with my daughter.’ It was hurtful like deeply painful and confusing. I then started to think what am I doing that’s causing my mom so much stress that she needs to cope or numb herself with a glass of wine?”

That is fascinating and visceral to receive that because you sparked something in me, a reflection of saying that. My mom and my dad were not bloggers by any sense. One of my biggest traumas is my feelings of not enoughness and never being good enough, and this seemingly never-ending amount of healing and work around those deep-seated belief systems in my cosmology. My dad had an alcohol and drug problem. It was part of the reasons that led him to homelessness and what I consider dying pretty young. My mom has also had challenges with smoking throughout her life.

MGU 172 | Drinking Alcohol

Drinking Alcohol: On a basic intellectual level, we know that food, drink or drugs are not going to make the problem go away. They’re just going to delay the feeling of it.

 

I wonder if psychologically, if subconsciously, I took on something similar. As a child, you observe your parents doing something that is, “I’m not even sure what my perspective would be as a child. This thing, smoking, drinking, drugs, whatever it is.” Seeing them suffer, in pain or out of control and wondering, “Did I have something to do with this response? Am I responsible for them numbing themselves or checking out in this way?” I’ve never ever even considered that. For some reason you bring that up, it hit me in a very peculiar and particular way. As kids, if we observe our parents hurting and numbing themselves, checking out if we somehow subconsciously think that maybe our presence or our existence is to blame for that.

It’s fascinating and it’s something for me to reflect on too because my mom was never a big drinker and neither was my dad, but they do drink and they drink for the enjoyment of it. My mom probably drinks because she enjoys that feeling that she gets from alcohol. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal. As an adult, I enjoy drinking with my parents. My dad introduced me to whiskey and scotch. I savor the moments of sitting down with him and having a glass of scotch or whiskey with him and tasting it because it’s not something you guzzled down. Those positive memories and associations make me feel like I probably didn’t have those thoughts growing up, but who knows?

These are the things that we might have never thought about before. It might take some time for us to process it, to meditate on it, and look back and say, “How has alcohol impacted my life?” That’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about and will continue to think about as I connect with all these people on TikTok. It’s interesting now at this moment thinking my parents wouldn’t have a problem at all if I sat down with them and just had a non-alcoholic beverage. I don’t think they would be judgmental. In fact, I was drinking the Curious Elixirs when I was visiting them the last time in Massachusetts. They were fascinated by it. I don’t think that there was judgment with my family members.

Some people do have a lot of intense experiences with them and that could be related to addiction, coping, or feeling like it’s that black and white thing. Either you’re a drinker and if you don’t drink, there’s something wrong with you, or the other way around. Maybe you don’t drink and there’s something wrong with people who do drink. That’s the other side of this conversation, and why I prefer to be in that gray area because I don’t want to take it to either extreme.

This is something that I’m being mindful of on TikTok now. First of all, I’m a little nervous. Do people think I’m sober? Do people think I’m against alcohol? I’m certainly not. In the past few years, I not only have been sponsored by Seedlip but I was sponsored by Absolut Vodka at one point. I’m not a huge vodka drinker, but I think Absolut Vodka does a lot of great things for the planet. That’s what I was doing. We did a beach cleanup, one of them was around music. They did a cool music event, then it starts to get me thinking, is this all just marketing to try to convince us to buy their products like, “We’re a hip company. You should drink more alcohol?” That’s the other side I want to examine at some point, once I finished talking about this judgment side of it.

The other side I want to talk about is how there’s so much marketing involved because there’s a ton of money to be made when it comes to alcohol. Before we get there to finish this idea around the extremes because what I’m nervous about now, and I know that logically, I don’t need to be afraid about this because I’ve been through this many times. When you say something and people get offended and triggered by it, they can come out and attack you. That’s the downside of growing online. The more people you reach, the more trolls and bad comments that you’re susceptible to. I haven’t experienced that with TikTok yet and so it’s causing me a little nervousness.

Now, I’m okay with it because I know that by being in that gray area, I can reach both people. Maybe I can help people see that just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean that you need to be excluded from the group and vice versa. Just because you do drink, you don’t necessarily need to feel shame around it, especially if it’s not causing you or other people harm. That’s ultimately my opinion and my stance on alcohol. If it’s something that you can feel balanced with, find joy in, treat with respect, and doesn’t have a ripple effect that causes a negative impact on somebody else, then generally I’m okay with it. I feel like you’re on the same boat with that, Jason. 

I am, but it’s a little more nuanced in my perspective. I’m speaking out of complete ignorance. I’m not a sommelier. I’m not a historian or chemist who works with alcohol. I’m saying this out of my own limited perspective. Other than saying certain varietals of wine that have the resveratrol from the grapes, which there have been an infinite, ad nauseam number of studies regarding the potential benefits for our blood and our cardiac health by having a glass of wine or two a day.

We can look at the Blue Zones from Dan Buettner and his research, looking at people on the Island of Sardinia and different places in Italy where they’re not issuing wine there. These are people living healthfully to the age of 100 and beyond. They’re not anti-alcohol. We could look at that research and say, “How fascinating. Look at the antioxidants and the resveratrol.” Most liquor, beer, or things like that does not have any substantive nutrient value in terms of what I’ve seen. It’s empty calories, a social lubricant, a distraction from our pain, something we think we ought to do to fit in.

People make different decisions for different reasons. That is also true for what they eat or drink. Click To Tweet

I always look at it too of, is this something that is serving me? Is it something that’s beneficial for me on a biological, nutritive, and spiritual level? That being said, I do drink Japanese whiskey from time to time and I have a glass of wine from time to time. I think that most alcohol does not have a specific benefit to human biology or longevity. That’s part of my perspective. The other thing too before I forget, Whitney, you had mentioned about looking at any studies or statistics about people’s consumption habits during 2020 and during the pandemic.

I found something interesting I want to mention on Healthline.com. Some research done by some scientists and researchers from the RAND Corporation found that binge drinking specifically among women has increased significantly during the pandemic. They say that various contributors of stress, anxiety, physical and social isolation are the main contributors to the issue. They said that the COVID-19 restrictions in most cities are preventing people from physically attending counseling, 12 Step or AA meetings, that people not eating healthy, the lack of exercise, the gyms are being shut down, and insomnia are contributing to higher levels of stress. Apparently, they took data from 6,000 Americans that they surveyed. They found that the frequency of drinking measured in days per month that alcohol was being consumed has increased by 14% and 17% specifically among women.

They talked about binge drinking and the startling findings for women saying that the researchers in the study found that heavy drinking, binge drinking rose 41% among the women in the survey, noting that 1 of every 5 women in this study had consumed heavy amounts of alcohol, at least one additional day per month compared to the previous year. It talks about the demographics in terms of white or Hispanic women. It’s a longer article, but it’s looking at the specific reasons. I’ll end on this, 53% said they were drinking more heavily to try to cope with stress, 39% said they were trying to relieve their boredom. Here’s what’s interesting, 32% of the respondents said they were trying to drink to cope with their mental health issues like anxiety or depression. To answer your question, drinking is up and in higher amounts in women.

I’m deeply intrigued by this. It’s something that I want to be delicate with because I haven’t had this moment. There’s this one friend of mine who I associate with wine. Whenever I hear something about wine, she’s the friend I’ll forward it to. I’ll be like, “Check out this new wine I learned about, or this new wine tool.” She is somebody that I’ve made that association with and that’s super fascinating to me. I had this moment when my TikTok video started to gain so much traction of thinking like, “What if she sees this and thinks that I’m anti-alcohol now?”

I’m afraid my friends are going to think that I’m judging them for drinking alcohol. I’ve never said that I’m anti-alcohol. I shouldn’t be that concerned because people can make their assumptions about who I am and why I do what I do. You can’t control that but it wasn’t an interesting fear to observe. I’m not quite sure if I’ll come out with a statement or whatever on TikTok, whether that’s even necessary or people would even care about that. It’s fascinating to think of that same friend. Why do I associate her so much with wine? Why does she drink so much wine? What’s going on with her that it has become such a big part of her life?

I hadn’t reflected on that much because it’s socially acceptable. It is such a common thing that I wonder if people have addictive behavior that is going unnoticed either by their friends or even within themselves because it’s socially acceptable. People might not even realize that they have addictions. The same thing could be said about something like weeds, especially now that marijuana is readily available. I have dated men, one in particular that definitely used marijuana to cope with his life. It was socially acceptable to smoke a shit ton of weed. I didn’t think much about it. I noticed it for sure but it wasn’t like this guy has a problem. Looking back, I’m like, “Did he have a problem and how do you even define when you do have one.” It comes back to my belief system around, generally, I view a problem as hurting somebody or having a bigger impact on the environment or animals or somebody is suffering as a result. We also have to remember that person might be suffering internally and not even fully recognize it because they’re in so much denial around it.

This is a super nuanced and very individual examination. If we have behaviors in our society that are common, that are encouraged through marketing, billion-dollar advertising budgets, or perhaps patterning after our parents, our loved ones or our family. I’ve always been driven even as a child, but increasingly so in adulthood, and we’ve joked about how I’m this very rebellious person and that’s always been an aspect of my personality. For me, it’s been looking at behaviors of not only my family but society in general and asking, “Is this a beneficial behavior? Are people happier, more joyful, more content, healthier as a result of this?”

I remember looking at certain behaviors probably through my family and my parents of smoking, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, things like that and going, “This is not resulting in good. This is causing a lot of havoc, pain, and suffering in our family and our household.” For me, maybe part of the reason was observing that, and being in the advertising industry for a decade. I’ve talked about the tactics and some of the psychological manipulation techniques that we used. You look at most of the alcohol commercials that are out there, and what are most alcohol commercials?

There’s some funny creative out of the box one sometimes, but most of them are this regurgitated prototypical, subconscious manipulation of, “Everyone’s on the beach. Everyone is drinking. Look at all these hors d’oeuvres that we’re enjoying on the beach in Tulum.” It’s like everyone is getting together, having fun, sexy and fit. You’re never going to see overweight and disabled person. Everyone is this perfectly curated concept of socially accepted beauty standards. They’re having fun and they’re at a party, graduation, on the beach. There’s some fancy car or a dude trying to get laid.

MGU 172 | Drinking Alcohol

Drinking Alcohol: Most liquor doesn’t have any substantive nutritional value. It’s just a social lubricant, a distraction from pain, or something we think we ought to do to fit in.

 

If you look at the concepts behind alcohol advertising, they’re very boring and rote, but they work. Why? It’s because people are fucking lonely. People feel excluded. People are desperate for connection and community, especially now. If you see those kinds of subconscious things being shown to you during a football game, or during your favorite TV show, sometimes 8, 10, 12, 15 times in a broadcast, it’s like, “Maybe I will feel better if I drink.” Maybe that might not be a conscious thought of like, “I want to be like the people on the beach.”

When you get hammered with that messaging over and over again for years or decades, it encourages the thing you’re talking about of, “This is what we do. This is societally acceptable.” It’s a fine line between, “Am I using this substance as a crutch? Am I using it to mask my pain or try and not think about my trauma and my suffering?” The reason I’m saying this is it’s important that with whatever we’re consuming, alcohol, drugs, food, beverages, impressions, what we watch, that’s food too. The books we read, the media outlets, the things we’re watching, what is the intention? Is it to numb? Is it to check out, subvert, avoid? Why are we doing it? It’s rote but it comes down to the question of, “Why am I doing this?” Trying to get as clear as we can about that answer.

When you are talking about people justifying their behavior in essence which is like, “Just let me do this thing,” whether it’s drinking alcohol, doing drugs, binge eating, whatever behavior that could potentially be destructive to them, people are afraid to let go of those things because they associate them with feeling better. They associate themselves with deserving it because of loneliness, for example. That we’re loneliness too, Jason. It is something that I’ve heard you share for something that you suffer a lot with. I’d love to explore that a little bit more if you’re open to it because I don’t know if I feel that lonely. Is it because I’m introverted or is it because it’s not a trigger for me? Loneliness is a trigger for you and I would love to hear you speak about that more. What do you do when you feel lonely? Do you go to something? Do you start doing something as a result of that? Do you have a specific thing that you do to cope with that loneliness feeling?

I want to say that there are two separate things in terms of aloneness and loneliness. I don’t feel loneliness that often, but when I do, it hits hard. I take intentional aloneness a lot because I feel for myself as someone who is deeper into the extrovert scale, which the pandemic has been challenging for a whole litany of other reasons being an extrovert. When I take intentional aloneness to journal, to meditate, to play the guitar, or write things out on my whiteboard, which these are the things I’ve been doing during my holiday blues.

The loneliness hits out of nowhere. I was feeling sad in 2020 about not being able to see my mom and my family back in Detroit for the holidays. For the past few years, my mom has come out to Los Angeles to visit me here. We’ve spent the holidays together with friends and yourself included, Whitney. For 2020, for some reason, maybe it’s because I’ve been sensitive and internal after my motorcycle accident, and full disclosure, my mom also had a pretty severe accident around the same time. It was this deeper pull and desire to be with her, and be with my family and have that nourishing connected experience with the people I love. It was difficult for me to deal with that.

How did I handle and how do I handle loneliness? I’ve started journaling again for the first time in probably a year. It’s been interesting to re-engage to that because most of the writing or creating that I do is usually for some other intent or purpose. Whether that’s me writing the newsletters for Wellevatr or doing the blog posts, or you and I collaborating on any number of the cool eBooks we’ve done. Usually my writing is like there’s a specific intent or aim as to why I’m sitting down and writing. The journaling has been like picking up an old friend. It’s been like there’s no aim or intent for anyone to see this or consume this.

This is just for you to get your feelings, your thoughts, and your perspectives on paper, and that’s it. It ends there. There’s no other reason for this. I had an interesting/morbid thought when I was journaling, which was, I wonder what is going to happen to all of these journals from all over the years? I have probably here at the house dozens of journals, going back to my early twenties of where I would pick up, I journal for a few years, and then I’d set it down and start up again. I wonder when I die, is anyone going to pick up these journals? Are they going to bother to open up and read them or they’re just going to toss them in a bonfire somewhere?

I then thought, “Who the fuck cares?” I’m not journaling so that 30, 40, however many decades from now, who knows how much longer I’m going to be here, someone picks these up and go, “That’s what Jason was thinking on March 18th, 2004. He was sad.” Journaling is interesting in that sense where I feel like I’m able to emotionally process certain things with no intention of anyone ever knowing, seeing, or receiving what’s on those pages. As opposed to, “I’m going to write this book. I’m going to publish this book. I’m going to write this blog post. I’m going to do this dissertation. I’m going to do something that’s for the consumption of other people.” I feel like journaling has been a good grounding tool and a good way for me to navigate the depression and the sadness I’ve been feeling.

Whatever we’re consuming, it’s important to get clear about what our intention is. Click To Tweet

That’s nice to know because knowing what is effective for other people is helpful for me. I imagine the reader as well because it’s such a basic thing. It’s a simple thing. Anybody can do it. You don’t even need any special tools unless you count a pencil or pen as a tool. You can grab a piece of scrap paper. You can find a crayon or a marker. It’s something that we’ve had access to most of us for many of our lives. I love that you can go back to that simplicity and yet have such a huge impact on your life that brings you a lot of positive benefits, and doesn’t have any drawbacks aside from taking some time.

That’s why this subject matter has been intriguing. It’s getting to the core of why we do things is one of the things that interests me the most. When we step back and examine why somebody decides to drink or why they don’t drink, it’s something that varies from person-to-person. Going back to this marketing side of things and capitalism, that’s the part that brings me a lot of sadness because I wonder how many people drink simply because it’s been marketed to them. If we look at the roots, the way that you’re raised plays a big role in our behavior. The social situations that we’re in also play a big role. Marketing might be at the root of most of those things because the way that we’re raised might be impacted by marketing.

Maybe your mother, father, whatever parental figure in your life uses alcohol because it was marketed to them in a successful way. They see enough advertisements. They go and try something. It tastes good. It makes them feel good and suddenly, it’s a huge part of their life. The same thing socially, to your point, Jason, when you’re talking about these advertisements. When you are young, you are exploring life, you’re getting to know yourself and people around you, drinking can be a huge part of peer pressure. It can be something that you’re curious about.

In a country like the United States where we’re not legally allowed to drink until a certain age, suddenly it feels rebellious. Going back to what you said, there are many layers to all of this. If you don’t tune into the deeper reasons that are driving that behavior, it can get out of control. You can lose sight of why you made that decision in the first place. I’m fascinated reflecting on that for myself. I wish I could remember what made me decide to pick up wine. I’m saying in 2020, I would estimate it was probably in April or May, I remember going to the grocery store and the package design catches my eye and the placement of it in the store.

Those things too, it’s not just like an ad on social media, on television, or product placement in a movie. All of these subtle ways that these things are put in front of us, we have to remember going to a store is also part of it too when you see fun colors and fonts. These stores are paid money to display these products in a certain way, and then they put them on sale. That was a draw for me too. It’s like, “Wine sounds good. It’s on sale. I might as well pick this up.” You then find yourself going through this habit. I felt good drinking wine. I was feeling stressed at the time and that felt like a reward. I then bought more of it.

If you don’t have that awareness, you can spiral quickly. It can become such a deep habit of yours that you don’t even remember where it started from. The same thing is true with the restaurant business and bars. They make so much money selling you alcohol. That reminds me too that restaurants are offering drinks to go. You could get a margarita kit from some of these chain restaurants. They would give you all the supplies to bring home and have your own margarita at home. They could continue to make money off of you because restaurants and bars make so much off of alcohol.

This whole conversation reminds me of something I haven’t thought about in years, which is a class that I was in college when I was studying media, advertising, entertainment, all of those things. One of my teachers, we were talking about the psychology of advertising. It was Psychology of Advertising class. I don’t remember his last name, but the teacher’s first name was Eric. I remember that. He made this bold declarative statement, which I challenge now but for the most part, I agree with. In one class he said, “Nothing that’s good for you is going to be advertised on television. Pay attention, next time you sit down and you watch a few hours of television, watch what they’re advertising to you.”

It’s a very broad sweeping generalization. This was the mid-’90s. I remember going home, watching TV and going like, “Fast food, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, clothes made in a sweatshop, a car that I don’t need that doesn’t get great gas mileage.” I was watching and going like, “Shit, none of this is good for me.” There are exceptions. There are ads for avocados. For the most part, I agree with that. The corporate machine is driven by profit and shareholder value. We know this. The corporate model in capitalism is driven by sheer profit and sheer shareholder value.

MGU 172 | Drinking Alcohol

Drinking Alcohol: When we step back and examine why somebody decides to drink or why they don’t drink, it’s really something that varies from person to person.

 

There are a lot of corporations, especially B corporations, that are driven by more ethical standards, fair trade wages, and trying to give back to the environment or animal life. For the most part, our paradigm of business, especially in the United States and many other first world countries, just make as much money as possible and get that stock price up and fuck the rest. In a way, there’s another layer of this in terms of how we vote with our dollars, the businesses, the products, and the ideologies that we are funding with our money.

That’s where I go in this conversation as well is not just looking at the psychology behind this, or what it’s doing to us on a mental, physical, spiritual level of these things we consume, consumer products. What are we supporting and what are we voting for in doing so? You talked about Absolut doing their cleanups and stuff. For the most part, do I feel like alcohol companies are doing good in the world? Not really. Do I feel like fast food companies are doing good in the world with the exception of maybe the Beyond Burger or Impossible showing up at certain outlets? No, they’re not doing good in the world.

They’re doing a lot of harm and I don’t mean to be black and white. In the gray area, it’s important for us to examine what is this doing to my body, my family, my wellbeing, but also what ripple effect does this have in the world? Everything we spend money on, everything we support, everything we give attention to, everything we put our money toward has a ripple effect. That’s the interconnectedness of being here. I know as we wrap up here, I wanted to introduce that thinking about what are my daily consumption habits affecting beyond me. That’s a critical question.

Another element of this is having awareness about different circumstances. One thing I didn’t touch upon is that I learned a ton about Muslim people. I don’t know that much about their culture and their religion. The most I’ve learned is from the show, Ramy, on Hulu, which is a phenomenal TV show. It feels like it’s educational, interesting, and very well done. That’s some of the most I’ve learned about Muslim culture. There were many people commenting on my videos saying that they were Muslim and they were grateful to learn about non-alcoholic drinks because they often feel left out, and I was insanely grateful.

There are many different reasons that somebody drinks or doesn’t drink. For us to open up our eyes, our hearts, and to do more listening, to ask more questions, to work on being more inclusive, and not making assumptions, catching ourselves when we might make fun of somebody for their choices or shame them for whatever they’re doing. You and I, Jason, have learned so much about this simply by being vegan. There’s a lot of social criticism and social praise. There are many different elements of judgment when it comes to the way that we eat.

This is the next step of reflecting on the way that we drink. Whenever I can grow my own awareness and have more compassion for people, I’m incredibly grateful. I hope that the reader found interest in this and has more to think about. We would love to hear from you. We’d love to know your perspectives on this. Do you drink or not? Why or why not? Telling us your story is something that we’re deeply interested in. Whatever we can learn about you and however we can support you more, we’d love to know.

You can share that with us in a few different ways. One is to go to our website, Wellevatr.com. You can find our email address there. You can find links to our social media which is all under @Wellevatr. Privately, you can message us. Direct message on a platform like Instagram, that’s what we use the most to communicate with people. You can email us as well. Our email address is on our website. If you want to have a public dialogue, I feel like social media can be wonderful for that too.

If you want to come over to my TikTok account, this is not on the Wellevatr account now, but it’s on my personal, @WhitLauritsen. You can find me and check out these comments, watch these videos, join the conversations, and I would love to see you there. That’s me on TikTok. Thank you for reading. Thank you for exploring this, Jason. We will work on bringing some more people onto the show that can talk about this with more knowledge and awareness beyond what we’ve brought. Stay tuned. You can hit the subscribe button so that you’ll be alerted when we have new episodes. If this resonates with you and you think it would resonate with somebody else, please share it with them. We appreciate you helping us spread the word. We’re so grateful to you. Thank you for reading all the way through to this episode and we’ll be back with another one!

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