A response to Kate Growney’s “Exit Strategy”
I came across LAT Magazine by 48° North sitting on a table at a booth inside the new Superette Shop in Toronto like a coffee table book made for the ages. A beautiful and sleek introduction into the 48° North community and conversations.
There was an article written by Kate Growney, a writer based in Hawaii. Her piece entitled “Exit Strategy” was about her ‘break up’ with wine. I found this piece to be the most exciting and relatable, especially when she shared how her life had changed when she developed an allergy to alcohol.
I, for one, never developed an allergy to alcohol. I was born with it. However, this doesn’t mean that I never enjoyed an evening with a drink, specifically wine. I never grew up with parents who were regular alcohol consumers, and I never understood wine or any alcohol as a method to enhance an experience. I thought it stood alone, so I never understood its appeal since it tasted so bad. It wasn’t until my adulthood where I learned (the hard way) wine/beer/liquor/spirits, all of it had to have a companion, be it an experience like food, an event or activity (besides driving).
However, because I never knew about this companionship, I never felt that I was missing anything. The one thing that I did find odd was when my parents would drink; they would get a very flushed red face, something that I would only learn about later in life. Besides family influences, the other visual impact was from Hollywood, an American rendering of North American drinking culture. Something that my face and liver could not handle. I concluded that alcohol was not for me.
It wasn’t until the last five to ten years that research began popping up regarding this ‘reaction.’ It’s still very underrated, and many of which almost don’t believe me when I say this is a thing. Intolerance or allergies to alcohol is prevalent. And it’s not just a myth. Those who suffer from this intolerance are missing a genetic enzyme that helps them break down alcoholic contents, which causes a visible bodily reaction – something I call ‘the mayhem’.
When Growney wrote about her allergic reactions, this was something I was far too familiar with. Although I never realized it was an allergic reaction. The mayhem for me took the form of flushing on my face, ears, and neck, and it would gradually creep through the rest of my body like my chest and legs and lead to a full-on headache or nausea. Some heavier liquors would cause swelling, I know women who would get hives and vomit from one shot of heavy liquor or red wine. It’s awful. The worst part is having someone point it out to you. The embarrassment was the most frustrating. Although the understanding of alcohol-related allergies has been more normalized and mature, it wasn’t always like this.
Alcohol and I
To me, alcohol is like the Hinge app; it “was made to be deleted.” Meaning, once you’ve found that ‘thing’ that replaces the so-called relaxation or happiness alcohol provides for you, you should probably let it [alcohol] go and move on to that ‘new thing.’ Which for Growney and I, is cannabis.
Before I start talking about weed, I have to explain what my relationship with alcohol is. It’s a product or legal substance that I relate to letting loose and being lazy. I think the marketing world has it branded as a glass of ‘relaxation,’ and it may be right for some, but it’s not the same form of relaxation for myself. It’s an excuse to be excused from life, priorities, responsibilities, work, and even reality, an escape that will take me ages to return. Consuming alcohol is a straightforward way to becoming more irresponsible and making bad decisions, like not eating (properly) or staying hydrated. In simpler terms, it’s my way of letting myself “be bad,” which is not a relationship one should have with alcohol. Before I start sounding like I’m bashing alcohol, I have had many great experiences with alcohol. All of which were in the great company of people, food, and activities. Suffice to say that I don’t hate alcohol, but my relationship with it is very strained and must be consumed responsibly. Such as no hard liquors or beers. I’ve limited myself to wine. It’s a slippery slope for me to drink and fall deep into a dark lazy place.
Cannabis and I
To me, cannabis is like a bubble bath. It’s something you can have every day, or not, and it won’t affect you the next day. In all fairness, cannabis can also be a method for me to be ‘lazy,’ but it’s not as harsh. I can get back to productivity the next day just as quickly if I choose to. Most importantly, cannabis is a substance that I associate with rest.
I am someone that struggles with the idea of disconnecting and finding a work-life balance. My mind never stops spinning and spiralling out of control from the many to-do lists I have or trying to find that perfect morning routine. These self-inflicted pressures eventually become a hindrance. Cannabis helps me here because it makes me stop without falling off. The best thing I learned about cannabis was that there isn’t a need for recovery the next day. It is the recovery. There is no hangover—something I found super pleasant and refreshing. Suffice to say that I have made cannabis boo-boos and greened myself out; instead of straining my relationship with cannabis, I feel more aware and comfortable experimenting more.
Kate Growney writes about her relationship to alcohol, specific to wine like a memoir, and that cannabis is a saviour in her life. For myself, alcohol was destructive, and cannabis was stigmatized. Growney’s exit strategy is one that I can stand behind and respect. She closes her article by making a promise that wine can no longer be a negative experience in her life and to get creative with cannabis instead. I’m with you.