As many of you already know (probably because I flaunted it all over my social media), this year I participated in ‘Dry July’, a fundraiser that aims to improve the lives of those affected by cancer by urging people to go booze free for an entire 31 days. For some, this may seem like nothing. But for those like me, facing a month without alcohol was incredibly daunting. I have already documented My Week Without Alcohol and how challenging it was for me, so you can imagine that a month without my treasured shiraz would be a hell of a lot harder. And it was, at first. Now, looking back, I can see that it was one of the best things I have ever done. At the ripe old age of 20, I realised alcohol was negatively impacting my life so I decided to make a change. Oh and I should probably mention that it was pretty cool that I raised money for charity too. Jesus Sam, It’s not all about you!
We all know that the drinking culture in Australia is shocking. Only, it’s not. Excessive drinking among young people has become so normalised that I was not at all shocked to learn that almost half of young Australians aged between 18 and 24 drink to get drunk at least once a month (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). I certainly used to get wasted on a regular basis and I will probably get wasted again, to be honest. But after my month without a hangover, I am so much more aware of my own drinking patterns and I never want to feel hungover again. I finally know what Sunday morning looks like and it’s glorious. Oh how I had missed the Sunday Telegraph! (I highly recommend the Sunday paper. But I don’t recommend telling people you read the paper unless you want them to think you are totally boring and over the age of 70).
I am also aware of everyone else’s drinking patterns. God, I sound so judgmental. And I kind of am. Years ago, before men and women were complete and total equals as they are now (cue sarcastic laughter), girls didn’t drink because it was ‘unacceptable’. They didn’t drink because they couldn’t. These days, I know women that consider liking rosé a personality trait. News flash girls, being a fan of moscato does not make you interesting. Sorry. Women drinking alcohol has become a joke, mainly because when you think of an alcoholic, you think of fat Jerry from the club with a beer gut and a gambling addiction to match, not 22 year old bartender Georgie that parties just a little too hard or Susan the soccer mum that downs a bottle of Rosé after the kids are in bed.* I can’t scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed without seeing a meme about women and alcohol and its kind of disturbing. #wineoclock #winemum #needadrink #lovewine #tipsytuesdays #tipsyfridays #tipsyeverydamnday
I know what you’re thinking. Sam, you really cannot talk, please take a look at yourself. And I have. Alcohol is no longer a huge part of my life. I used to turn to alcohol to solve my problems because that is what I had been taught. Rough day? Have a glass of wine. Great day? Celebrate with a glass of Prosecco! Thats what everyone else is doing, just take a look at Instagram. I’m serious, go and take a look at Instagram. Alcohol is EVERYWHERE. On my own Instagram, wine features heavily and I’m not proud of it. But this is because most of the photos we post are of us at events or parties and there is usually alcohol involved in those kinds of social gatherings. Seeing pictures every day from people that we follow online holding a glass of wine or a bottle of cider can trick us into thinking that it is normal to do these things every day. But it’s not.
For me, learning to substitute the booze for something else was challenging but not impossible. I now look forward to my hot lemongrass and ginger tea every night (please don’t laugh at me. I promise I’m under the age of 70). After my month without alcohol, I had a glass of wine on the 1st of August and guess what? I didn’t even finish it. I didn’t want to. I had broken my nasty habit of falling back on alcohol to cope and I was over the bloody moon. If you think that maybe you might be drinking a teensy bit too much, I urge you to be a little more aware of your drinking habits. I’m not saying to never drink again, obviously. But next time you go to pick up that glass of wine, think of me, drinking tea and maybe opt for a cup of steamy green goodness instead. Your body will thank you for it, I promise.
*Disclaimer – Fat Jerry, Bartender Georgie and Soccer Mum Susan are not real people (that I know of)