I agree with all the sentiments expressed, which might seem odd, since they're partially mutually contradictory ).
Skibike, I'm with you here --
I've said it many times already, I'm here to live this life with quality not quantity.
-- but I think quantity is related to quality in a complicated enough way that quantity also matters to me. Dying of Alzheimer's (or going daft) at 80 instead of 79 because I gave up drinking might not matter. But if radical life-extension treatments become available right after my 80th birthday, it's not 80 instead of 79 we're talking about, it's 90 (or 100, or 120, or...) instead of 79.
Doctor Lost, God yes, the productive evenings! I was also able to be productive in the evenings during my post-dinner 10-12 ml of alcohol (equivalent to a touch more than half a glass of wine) experiment, but more than that and I lose my focus.
And yes, James and Doctor Lost, it's relations with friends with whom one used to drink that can be tough....
I'm reviewing the literature again and will be updating the wiki as soon as I can.
Meanwhile, my drinking options are:
1) abstain entirely. I think this is safest from a brain health standpoint, all else being equal (which it isn't! I think I sleep better when I drink a small amount every evening; and there are other less obvious benefits).
2) drink baby amounts on a daily basis (~half a glass of wine equivalent per evening). The research has not ruled out that this is harmless for ε4s, and if there are indirect benefits (in my case: better sleep!), it could be beneficial. With this option, I can order a glass of wine at a restaurant and not have to explain myself. (Or be less likely to have to explain myself -- "Why aren't you finishing your wine?" "Want another glass?")
3) drink "moderately" on a daily basis, per the normal definition: 2 or so glasses of wine equivalent.
4) drink following the pattern I used to, but much less: most nights not at all (I've always wanted productive evenings!), but when I go out, drink baby amounts.
5) drink following the pattern I used to, but less: most nights not at all, but when I go out, drink moderately.
6) drink as I used to: most nights not at all, but when I go out, drink at least 3 glasses of wine, like my friends do.
#3 I've never done, so I've ruled that out. The nightly buzz that makes every evening less productive isn't my cup of tea (wine). #6 is clearly too dangerous, and is socially and in every other way unnecessary. 2-3 glasses max (as in #5) is enough for smooth sociality, even in Scandinavia (well, not in every situation -- it feels like some friendships would, literally, have to end or be fundamentally altered).
I pretty strongly sense from the research that any amount that causes a noticeable "buzz", even very, very slight -- for me this occurs somewhere at the 10-12 ml of ethanol level (normal glass of wine (fifth of a bottle) = 18 ml) means the neurotoxic effects of ethanol will kick in with any additional amount (of course, even without a buzz we could be damaging our brains -- ethanol is a neurotoxin!). Do I want to allow myself to possibly lose a few brain cells (which stem cell techniques might be able to replace within the decade, or might not...) to have a significantly easier, smoother, in sum, better, social life? Maybe. The difference between having a tiny bit and having nothing is huge, socially. I wouldn't need to go beyond having a tiny bit to make things substantially easier socially. Teetotalers are thought of us freaks in a way that people who drink very small amounts are not.
But I love the idea of seeing what happens if I become a teetotaler. Just be in your face if people challenge me! "Jesus, I don't drink -- deal with it!
Or maybe just "say no" without any explanation if people offer me a drink. Has anyone tried that? Doctor Lost?
About some other secondary, intangible effects: if being a teetotaler means one doesn't go out and socialize as much, then one might simply be killing brain cells in a different way! I've found, without my wanting it to be this way, that I simply do not go out as much -- at least when I'm in Europe -- during teetotaler experiments! Another reason for me to move back to the US: there's much more tolerance for people with divergent dietary habits.
Next up: back to baby amounts to see if my horrible sleep improves like I think it did last time I tried this. More when I have more data on that.
Then I'll try teetotalism again, while in Europe, and really force myself to go out more! It might be that I just have to have more afternoon coffee get-togethers.