Dry January? I think I need a drink...

It’s January, the most odious month of the year, and not just because some have chosen to dub it ‘Veganuary’. This dreary month is often pushed as a time of abstinence and self-flagellation, with talk of fad diets and resolutions.

This comes after a festive period that was ridden with miserabilist nannying. Over Christmas, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said that ‘problem drinkers’ (apparently almost two million people nationwide) should be ‘ordered’ for scans by their GPs to look for signs of liver damage.

The phrase ‘problem drinker’ suggests alcoholism, but what NICE defines as problematic is far more tame. In its proposal, NICE suggested that women who drink over 35 units of alcohol per week should be scanned, as well as men who drink over 50 units. That’s the equivalent of just two large glasses of wine a night for women, and two and a half pints of beer for chaps.

The timing and intent of this announcement couldn’t have been clearer; health-obsessed busybodies are taking aim at ordinary people at the time of year most feel relaxed enough to enjoy themselves. Two glasses of wine a night over the festive period really isn’t that much, especially when you consider the traditional excesses of New Year’s Eve. So why did NICE feel it was its place to punish people for having fun?

Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by three spirits in A Christmas Carol who taught him the meaning of the season. Were the folks at NICE to be visited by the three spirits, they’d probably slap a warning on them, inform them that any more than two spirits a day is a symptom of ‘problem drinking’, and send for the doctor.

People who drink two glasses of wine a day aren’t problem drinkers. We should ignore this insulting suggestion, and the mass virtue-signalling that comes with killjoy schemes like Dry January. And we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for having a good time. In 2017, drink, smoke and gorge yourself to your heart’s content. Forget those resolutions you won’t keep, and continue to live as you started the new year: optimistic, with a glass in hand.

Benedict Spence is a writer based in London.

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