Soapbox: Dry January

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

I began the new year with the cautious optimism that I would be able to complete one month without drinking, I failed, miserably.

By the 6th Of January, the thirst had become unbearable. It was a Wednesday night, the week which had barely just begun had already got the better of me and there I was sipping on the dark nectar of lucifer, Guinness. 

I’m not sure if I was ever really serious about completing “dry January”. In fact, I find a number of things about dry January to be frankly ridiculous. Firstly, it takes place in a 31 day month, a painfully long time without the WD-40 of existence. February would be a much more realistic choice.  Secondly, January is by far and away the most mundane month of the year. Last but not least, what sort of a name is dry January? It doesn’t exactly fill you with optimism or even hope - “sober October” now that's creative! Dry January sounds like something you might need a preliminary enema of Baileys and Heineken light to cure.

If you are one of the abstentionist a-holes who is doing dry January, I raise a glass to you and say cheers. I on the other hand refuse to feel guilty for my apparent failure. January is a sticky wicket at the best of times so there is no harm in a bit of lubrication. In the words of everyone’s favourite sauce-mad lunatic, John B Keane, “everything in moderation, including moderation”.

The friends who complete Dry January are often quick to gloat about it and I’m willing to accept this as part of their achievement. However, the virtue signalling perpetrated by the president of the get-up-early gang, Leo Varadker, is something I find difficult to stomach. In a week when reports about vulnerable children who experienced serious neglect littered the media, Varadker thought it wise to announce that he was cutting back on his alcohol consumption and suggested we all should do the same. 

This was not the first, or even the worst, instance of a Fine Gael minister creating a class-based distinction in relation to alcohol consumption. Back in October, Minister Of State, Patrick O’Donovan, stated: “when you see slabs of cans being taken home you know that they are not being taken home for an after-dinner aperitif.” 

Some of the worst affected children during this pandemic are those with parents who have issues surrounding addiction. These parents are finding it increasingly difficult to access support and therapy. The government has announced a once-off €420,000 support scheme for addiction centres. This translates to about €20,000 per addiction centre, however, it is unlikely to be enough. Many of these services witnessed funding cuts of 80% during the financial crisis and are once again being neglected at the expense of a “help yourself narrative”.