“What? – You’re not drinking? – That’s boring! – What’s wrong? – Are you ill? – Why not just have one then, (or one more)?” These are all common retorts (often all at once) from ‘friends’ or work colleagues when you answer “Not for me.” And it’s like nobody around you is listening, as someone thrusts the list of alcohol based beverages into your hand and pleads, “go on, just the one.”
Despite the fact alcohol has always been connected to our social framework, in one form or another (see here), today’s society is also impacted by the polar extremities of ‘normality’, were everything is “Absolutely Feckin Fabulous” or, “my life is the pits and the world is coming to an end” thought processes. And no, this isn’t going to turn into another post on the Brexit debacle.
To many of today’s ‘sensible’ discussions around the pitfalls of drinking, or the merits of not drinking [alcohol], all have a tendency to descend into puerile argument. We’ve lost the capability to see (or value) the middle ground viewpoint, much to our social detriment (which is a subject for a different post).
Many of the [drinking] questions people struggle with, be they from the perspective of the proverbial old soak, or the self-appointed epitome of Puritan Abstinent Bigotry, search for answers that come from diverse opinions, formed from the polarities of accepted social normality. A factor that by itself, probably compounds many of the negative impacts born in excessive drinking.
On the regular ‘Lad’s’ (or Ladette’s) night out, Billy (or Belinda) Muppet, the group ‘party animal’ shouts over the noise at the crowded bar… “Beer or Lager?” And, despite your reply of “I’ll get my own thanks” a couple of minutes later a pint is thrust into your hand by the ‘friend’ with the puddled smile and wink… “I couldn’t hear, so I got you the same as the rest of us!” It’s all part of our culture…
Which countries have the worst drinking cultures? In the UK the notion of enjoying yourself in the evening without alcohol is so unusual it can lead to you being called a freak (or at least miserable and antisocial) whereas drinking yourself insensible is not only acceptable, it is admired. (The Guardian)
I get it, it’s not easy being the one who doesn’t drink, or is trying to cut back. The stigma attached to being that person is probably greater than beliefs attached to suffering from alcoholism or being alcohol dependent, especially within our ‘drinking culture‘. Even our ‘social’ drinking is hard habit to break but many of us are actually drinking for all the the wrong reasons (see example). But things are definitely getting easier.
Are sober bars growing in popularity? Although many licensed venues have upped their game and stock more zero- and low-alcohol drinks, some customers want an alcohol-free environment too. (Morning Advertiser)
Time, please: is drinking becoming socially unacceptable? With so many young people eschewing alcohol, the beginning of the end of booze Britain is in sight. (The Guardian)
Places to drink when you’re not drinking: Whether you’re having a night off or you prefer to swerve the booze altogether, being sober doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. (Time Out London)
So, that stigma is in decline, the availability of alcohol-free options in regular bars, restaurants and clubs is on the increase. Indeed, totally alcohol-free bars and social venues are also in the ascendant.
Drinkers Like Me (Adrian Chiles): this documentary showed how the complicated, conflicted world of boozing shows how questioning regular drinking also become an analysis of much more, from his physical and mental health to society’s difficult relationship with alcohol. (Read More)
It might well be ‘Wine-O-Clock’ for others but it’s OK if that’s not for you. It’s OK to make different choices to those made by your peers. It’s your choice whether choose to drink alcohol, or not… but you could be forgiven for thinking that wasn’t actually the case.
When heading out, rather than staying in for fear of not being in control of what drinks are available; many pubs, restaurants and bars are now increasingly offering mocktail menus (see below). And if they don’t, why not try ordering one? The more people who ask for drinks without alcohol, the greater likelihood that they will become more widely available. Good business will always try their to match customer demand… unless they’re happy to go bust!
Banishing the booze? The market for tee-total tipples is ever-growing (The Independent)
Irrespective of any past Booze Britain media hype and headlines, many people now appear to be far more aware of the social and personal problems related to alcohol. Importantly, it also looks like many more still are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impacts that alcohol can have on them, their family or friends and our wider society.
For way too long, many of us have never really thought much about what we drink, how much we drink and why. Our habits have been formed from situational normality, learned behaviours, peer pressures and social-acceptance. Perhaps if we were all a little more ‘mindful‘ about our drinking (see below), there would be less problems?
There is plenty of good advice available to help you make your own informed decisions, to stay safe while drinking, without having to rely on emotive newspaper headlines. Are you drinking too much (see here)? How does your drinking compare to the rest of the UK (see here)? What’s it like to cut back on drinking (see here)?
Irrespective of where you’re at with your decisions about your alcohol consumption, the known science suggests; cutting back on alcohol can benefit your health and well-being. But known risk doesn’t always dictate that we will make sound decisions about what we do, unfortunately.
If you do choose to drink, it’s best to spread your drinks evenly throughout the week. If you wish to cut down the amount of alcohol you’re drinking, a good way to do this is to have several drink-free days per week. (DrinkAware)
The ‘Have a little less, feel a lot better‘ campaign from drinkaware.co.uk has helped to raise awareness of the long-term impacts of drinking, above the recommended guidelines. Cutting back on alcohol intake, by as little as one pint or one glass of wine each time you drink, could reduce your risk of alcohol related harm, now and in the future.
Drinking for the sake of drinking. It’s madness: how Adrian Chiles cut back on booze. (The Guardian)
If you want to change the way you drink, why not try the FREE Drinkaware app? It can help you to track your alcohol consumption, calculate units, calories and costs and set goals to help you moderate your drinking…
Or, why not at least try some drink free days, It has to be worth considering surely? But all that said, some people don’t believe ‘moderation’ is a valid choice when it comes to alcohol consumption… especially when it’s being promoted by organisations funded (in part) by the alcohol industry and their trade bodies.
See past the bull… make your own choices in life, and see the alcohol drinking society for what it really is, a completely false world created by the alcohol industry itself. (Disgruntled Customer)
Like the Puritans of the past, the American Prohibition of the 1920’s – 1930’s, or even the failed War on Drugs, some people will always say that any alcohol consumption is wrong… they may be correct however; who are they (or I) to dictate your choices in your life? Especially if that advice happens to come from a place where personal decisions haven’t always been made sensibly in the past.
Having the freedom to make your own ‘informed choice’ about what is right for you, by understanding all relevant information and facts, with support if required, will always trump any dictated desired outcomes. The correct levels of support, where required, along with effective signposting, forms the basis of us all being able to make our own healthier decisions.
Club Soda, the self-styled Mindful Drinking Movement, want to; “create a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they are not drinking alcohol” and they’re probably getting there… they’re pretty damned good at it. Club Soda help you to set your goals and track your progress with their Mindful Drinking Course, along with their other resources.
You can signup for motivational emails, attend one of their increasingly popular Mindful Drinking Festivals, search their growing database of information about alcohol-free drinks and alcohol-free venue in the Club Soda Guide, visit their supportive online community group their Facebook page, or just follow the link to find out more about Club Soda.
There are many Alcohol-free beers (see examples) and low-alcohol drinks that actually taste OK. From lagers to pale ales and even ‘spirits’ like gin (see examples), there are now many more drinks that can help you to drink more mindfully. There are even specialist Alcohol Free Shops and a quick Google search will reveal every alcohol-free option you could ever want. Love lager – but want to drink less? See the Adrian Chiles’s guide to alcohol-free beers HERE.
Having a party at home? Creating alcohol-free drinks with party appeal is not difficult. The Mocktails Made Easy page at Drink Aware will help you offer delicious non-alcoholic cocktails for your guests.
BBC Good Food suggests that “the new temperance movement is taking over” but, irrespective of them being right or wrong, don’t panic! Not drinking no longer means “retreating to the monkish solitude of a quiet room with a glass of water” as they suggest. And importantly, you don’t actually need alcohol to enjoy the party. In fact some would rightly argue, some of today’s best drinks are non-alcoholic.
Discover Good Food’s best ever mocktail recipes for every occasion, including non-alcoholic punch, mulled drinks, juices, spritzers, cordials and coolers. Check out their 24 Non-alcoholic cocktail recipes.
Just because a drink is non-alcoholic, it doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Whether it’s for your guests or yourself, mocktails can rekindle the fun that you feel you’ll maybe missing out on (which really isn’t the case), when others around you are all drinking alcohol. You could try one (or more) of the 36 Best Mocktail Recipes, why should your ‘friends’ be having all the fun at the party? Non-alcoholic drink recipes are the perfect way for the whole family to enjoy any party and here’s another 50 Mocktail Recipes that you can try.
I’m not telling you not to drink, and the bottom line really is… it’s your life, your choice and you can choose what to drink and when you want to drink it. Just do it in a mindful manner, based upon your informed choice and not the pressures of others around you.
Enjoy but please choose wisely!