Weekend Wit: Life As A Non-Drinking Aussie

Life as a non-drinking Aussie isn’t easy. In fact, I’d liken it to trying to remain a virgin in a whore house. Now we all know there’s usually someone keen who’s trying to bed the virgin, right? Well, being a non-drinker when everyone else is drinking can be much the same.

It doesn’t matter what the occasion either. Family gatherings, barbecues, festivals, sporting events – it’s normal Aussie behaviour to have a drink in your hand.

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I even ended up at a baptist church picnic and the conversion began. Not the religious variety which I had anticipated either. I went along expecting a dry event and reprieve from the relentless onslaught. Yet out came the bottle of bubbly and wham-o! As I passed my plastic picnic glass along the familiar conversation about my abnormality began.

Now if I wasn’t safe among the God fearing Christians…actually strike that. The monks have always had a hankering for mead. Plus they do drink wine in church. Add the fact they were Australian and thinking back I was being totally naive. What was I thinking?

I should have known that if there’s an excuse to crack a can or pop a cork Aussie’s will generally support it. Look at Australia Day? Even though most people need to return to work the next day it’s no deterrent. Our culture dictates we all want to have fun but it also encourages that we should be drinking to do it.

I recent heard a survey on the radio that stated something like 60% of Victorians don’t drink alcohol to get drunk. So I’m not a total alien after all but that does mean that the remaining 40% are out to have a damn good time! Maybe that’s the populations percentage I’m surrounded by?

Now I’m not against having a drink or dozen if that’s what you wana do. It’s just that I’ve been there done that and don’t feel like drinking anymore. The thing I just don’ get is why a non-drinking Aussie has the capacity to make the drinkers so uncomfortable?

Is it because they’re worried their drunken escapades will end up on social media? From what I’ve witnessed I reckon they’re more than capable of doing that themselves. Isn’t it a fact that some drunken Aussie invented the selfie? Probably not but it shoulda been.

As a sober Aussie among the drinkers I can and do join in the fun but sometimes the different wave lengths are a little annoying. Quite often drunk Aussies aren’t nearly as funny as they think they are. It’s amazing what this lot will laugh at and consider funny.

Thankfully the term designated driver is now a valid excuse for choosing coffee over champaz. I would have hated to be a non-drinking Aussie twenty plus years ago though. Driving wasn’t accepted as a valid excuse to remaining sober. They’re weren’t designated drivers. They just had those who weren’t as wasted as the others and they were thrown the car keys! Imagine the peer pressure back then?

Yeah, life as a sober Aussie isn’t for the faint hearted. For many the more times they say no to a drink the more times it’s offered. (That’s a tip for anyone wanting free alcohol BTW) Mind you us teetotalers do come in handy. Which Aussie on a mission wouldn’t want a willing allocated driver for those occasions hey? Come to think of it I do get invited to a lot of outings. Umm, maybe being a non-drinking Aussie isn’t such a bad thing after all?!

Image via theleader.com.au

February 14, 2015

A Dry Spell During The Holiday Season: Smart Or Stupid?

Is the true definition of insanity cutting down on alcohol during the Christmas/New Year’s Eve holiday season?

I strongly suspect so, for I’m in my second week of a self-imposed mid-week alcohol ban and it’s making me quite cranky indeed and occupying far too much of my thoughts.

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While my loved ones overindulge, as is the norm this time of year, I’ve been left staring into my mineral water, willing it to be vodka instead, with a face like a dropped pie.

It ain’t no fun being sober, while everyone around you is tipsy. And I’m a lush from way back – I love me a drink, always have, indeed it’s an occupational hazard of being a journalist.

Y’ know in the old movies, when the journalist character (almost always a man, Lois Lane aside) is wearing an old hat, drinking hard liquor from his hip pocket and chain-smoking as if his life depended on it?

Well, many many journalists still do this even today, if a tamed-down version minus the millinery and cancer sticks. It’s the stress of the job – or something like that – at least, that’s what we tell ourselves and each other.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

No one is making me cut down on the demon drink – it’s just that, after a very long and loyal relationship with it, I’ve decided we need to break up, if only Sunday-Thursday.

On the other two days of the week, I shall heartily enjoy a few glasses of my beloved red wine with gusto, in a tidy and contained fashion, unlike days of old when I too felt like I was positively swimming in a champagne glass, ala burlesque star Dita Von Teese (pictured below) – OK, not quite.

My reasons for mid-week sobriety – or drinking more in moderation – include: the horror of turning 40 earlier this year and the awful, accompanying realisation I can no longer party like I’m in my 30s; the sobering health impact of excess, such as a few minor health scares this year and the fact that I’m really bloody determined to shed 5kg in order to be my best self.

I also realised – like many mothers, as is completely understandable – I was perhaps overdoing the “I’m-a-stressed-out-mum-of-toddlers-I-need-a-drink-or-two-to-unwind routine.”

And when I – gasp – actually somewhat stupidly answered my GP’s: “How many alcohol units do you consume a week?” question honestly (who does that?!), her raised eyebrow and stern warning about the health impacts of alcohol were enough to see me abstain, and fast.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

So, instead of using alcohol as a crutch to unwind, I’m now exercising my arse off even more than I did before and I’m giving mindfulness and meditation a red-hot go.

My new Sunday-Thursday alcohol ban is also saving me lots of unwanted calories and so I’ve already lost weight as a result.

What’s more, I feel empowered and strong and quite proud of my dry-spell efforts, even if – yes – I did give in to a glass of Moet at Christmas, as you do.

I’ll never completely give up the demon drink, but I really need to take stock of my drinking so I’m still around to see my children’s children. What’s more, I’ve only really grasped, at 40, the importance of living your best life.

So, for now, it’s learning to temper my short-temper when family and friends around me are still partying like it’s 1999 and striving to love my mineral water, with a twist of lemon.

What do you think? Have you ever cut down on alcohol during the silly season? Any tips?

Main image via dyersoundworks.com; secondary image via www.2gb.com and final image via www.dailymail.co.uk.

January 3, 2015

Sober October – Could You Do It?

Ocsober, or Sober October has become an annual event in Australia and is a time for people to dig deep and find some will power to ditch the drink for 31 days.  In recent years it has been gaining popularity due to the number of alcohol related crimes and the alarming increase in numbers of underage drinkers.  In America the problem is the same.  The criminal justice system is being flooded with alcohol-involved offenders with studies in recent years showing that 40% of state prisoners were under the influence of alcohol when they committed their crime.  And it’s not only adults who have a problem with the bottle – in 2008 more than 190,000 people under the age of 21 visited an emergency centre for an alcohol related injury.

When people drink for the first time, it’s generally due to curiosity about what alcohol tastes like and how it affects them physically.  Normally the first drinking experience is not a big deal but over time the drinks become more frequent and the amounts consumed increase too.  For some people drinking eventually becomes a problem and starts to interfere with daily activities and can cause serious strain on relationships.  So if you drink, be it regularly or occasionally, Sober October can be the perfect excuse to give your body a break for 31 days.  Here are some reasons why you should consider it:

It will help lower your tolerance

Just like drugs, the more alcohol you consume, the more your body gets used to it, so after a period of time you’ll find that your tolerance to alcohol will be quite high and you’ll need more of it to feel the same effects.  If you refrain from drinking for a month it’s highly likely that your tolerance level will decrease so it should be easier for you to cut back on the amount of alcohol you consume after those 31 days.

It will help to lower the risk of you becoming dependant on alcohol

Some people drink every day, not necessarily large amounts, but perhaps they find they can’t do something without a glass of wine or a cold beer, like settling down in front of the TV for the night.  You could be dependent on alcohol if not having it for a day causes problems so to tackle the dependency you should try and break your drinking cycle.  This should help lower your risk of becoming dependant on it.

It will help you to feel better

Giving up alcohol for a month will not only speed up weight loss and improve your vitamin levels but it will also help you to sleep more soundly and increase the quality of your skin.  Over time, the consumption of alcohol can cause the blood vessels in your face to dilate, resulting in red, spidery veins and the alcohol can also interrupt the balance of oestrogen and testosterone levels, causing pimple break outs.

If you’re not convinced that Sober October is a good thing then why not give it a go and see for yourself?  You might be pleasantly surprised at just how good you feel after 31 days, alcohol free.  And who knows, perhaps you’ll be converted for life.

Image via i.dailymail.co.uk

September 18, 2014