Sober October? Isn’t life hard enough?

October has rolled around and you notice the nights getting colder. In the distance the hanging sign of the pub swings in the wind where you are meeting a friend for a drink and a catch-up. Battling the increasing breeze, you up your pace and make a beeline for its doors.

The first round is on you and just as you are about to order the regulation pint of the cheapest ale, your friend interjects and requests a diet coke. Your brow furrows as they explain to you they are partaking in the annual ‘sober October’ drive. Your heart sinks, what is the point of partaking in sober october as a student?

This fictional anecdote, however amusing, is a reality for many students this month. These days it seems like there is a constant push for perfectly healthy living. Adverts for rancid-looking smoothies, teas, and other equally miserable foods which have had all their tasty parts extracted promise to make you live better and longer.

This drive for healthy living is also conflated with the non-stop pursuit of perpetual happiness. ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ seems to be the correct phrase. However, it seems more apparent that the more you chase happiness in this way, the more elusive it becomes. As writer Albert Camus said: ‘You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of’. With this in mind, why bother with sober October as a student? With both a demanding work and social schedule is alcohol not a necessity to get you through the week? How on earth do you think you can enter a room full of a dozen people you only slightly know and expect to come out unscathed with your dignity unless you have something to lubricate your social cogs?

As Hemingway once said: ‘I drink to make other people more interesting’. In this world obsessed with healthy living, alcohol acts as the bulwark to the enclosing circle of monotony. And let’s face it, we all only have 4 years or fewer here at university with little to no responsibility, so for God’s sake, before it’s too late, reach for a bottle and have a good time.

Of course, I’m not so much of a fool to deny that alcohol can be destructive and is the most destructive drug we know of in terms of real-life consequences. Sober October could be a good opportunity for someone flirting with quitting a worrying habit to do so amongst like-minded individuals. This is a perfectly understandable means to an end. However, for those of us who are responsible drinkers, the only feasible excuse you can give to your confused-looking friend at the bar, is that you aren’t touching the tipple for a month to remind yourself of how damn good it truly is.

It seems appropriate to close this article with a quote from the great Christopher Hitchens regarding his take on the puritanical war on, and his affinity for, booze: ‘Such wicked thoughts are almost verboten in our new, therapeutic, upbeat, boring idiom, where there is always some mediocre jerk who knows what’s best for you’.

Image courtesy of Adam Losekoot.