The state of Massachusetts, like many others, has been advised to stay at home. All non-essential businesses have closed.
“No matter what,” I remember Governor Baker trying to calm fears when first calling for the shelter-in-place, “residents will still have access to grocery stores and pharmacies for medications.”
One of the very first questions that he took from a reporter? “Are liquor stores considered essential?”
Governor Baker then corrected himself, “No matter what, Mass. residents will have access to grocery stores, package stores, and pharmacies…these all fall under essential.” In Mass, we refer to liquor stores as package stores, or “packies.”
It stuck with me. Few will talk about it in these terms, but the fact is, liquor stores are essential—the reason being that alcohol addiction in this country is a huge problem that is only getting worse.
If the majority of people were able to take or leave alcohol, would liquor stores still fall under “essential?” If the majority of Americans were not medicating themselves with alcohol and only using it as “recreational,” would it still be considered “essential?”
The truth is, if they were to shut down liquor stores today, we would witness Armageddon. The disruption would be 10 times worse than the virus itself. Liquor stores must stay open to continue to feed America’s addiction or all hell would break loose. Can you imagine? To keep some sort of normalcy, to keep some sort of peace and order, we must continue to supply people with what they “need” right now.
Not to mention the large percentage of people who are, indeed, physically addicted to alcohol and could die if they didn’t drink. Can you picture hundreds of thousands of people flooding the emergency rooms with tremors and seizures, taking up beds, going through detox if they were shut down? Liquor stores are, in fact, essential.
I wasn’t even in that category, yet, right before I got sober. I was still highly functioning in the gray area; I was a daily drinker who hadn’t hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” I was in the gray area that is widening as our alcohol culture continues to be normalized and celebrated. Mommy needs wine, right?
I would have been at Marty’s Liquors, lined up with the rest of humanity this morning, if I knew they were shutting down. Actually, you know what? No. I would have been at Marty’s a week ago, “just in case” they shut it down. If I was still drinking, I would have a stock pile already lined up for worst-case scenario, silly!
I quit drinking not because I hit rock bottom; I quit because alcohol was no longer serving me. The pain and suffering as a result of my drinking started to far outweigh any benefit I thought I was getting. Today I am grateful that I don’t need alcohol.
Today I am grateful that alcohol is not essential for me to live my best life.