Aussies & Alcohol

I was listening to Straight & Curly episode 006 on my way home today where Kelly & Carly talk about not drinking alcohol for a month. You can listen to it on iTunes or directly hereRight away, I had questions! What better to than blog them, am I right?


Disclaimer: I am NOT a health professional of any kind. If you need support on this matter or it triggers something in you, please visit DrinkWise, as they have links to online and phone based services for all states in Australia. 


Aussies & Alcohol


“I don’t drink alone & I don’t drink during the week”


I’m really curious about the background to decisions like this. Is there a stereotypical image of people drinking alone and on work days that screams “alcoholic”? Is trying not to be a stereotypical image (if that is what it is) of an alcoholic a signal of fear of alcohol issues – are we so aware of the devastating effects of various types of addiction that it creates a need to prove you don’t have a problem?


“If you are trying to give up alcohol, or go without alcohol, it’s just the worst thing in the world because Australian culture does not support that”.


Is this true? Granted, I am a stubborn pain the ass which served me well during the teenager peer pressure years when you HAVE to do what your friends want you to.


Like a smoking ad that was on TV a while ago, does saying “it’s hard to quit” discourage people from trying or does it give them realistic expectations? I’m generally not a fan of public health messages so I really wonder how often they do damage vs actually helping.


Aussies & Alcohol


“I’m a non drinker”


Now, I totally get where she is coming from. I used to drink so infrequently that I called myself a non drinker because that was easier than explaining that I don’t drink often & that just because you are drinking or there is alcohol doesn’t mean I will have anything to drink.


Life hack: you’re an adult, alcohol is everywhere & you could get it at pretty much any time. Because it’s in front of you or available at an event is not an actual reason to drink.


Kelly gave the example that at her wedding, she had probably two drinks, danced all night & would have been under the limit to drive home.


If we start including examples as the above as actions taken by a drinker, then we start to change the cultural terminology & experiences around drinking. Slowly, yes, but a change is a change.


Moderator vs Abstainer

Moderator can have one (Tim Tam, glass of wine, whatever!) where as an abstainer will want more if they try to just have one so its easier to stay away.


It’s so good if you know which one of those you are for which thing in your life! Kelly says she’s an abstainer for food but moderator for alcohol.


The culture of peer pressure – say you don’t want a drink & others make it their mission to get you to drink.


I’ve honestly never experienced that – that I know of. Again, see the stubborn pain in the ass bit above. I don’t care what you think of me for not drinking. I will be quietly judging the hell out of you for you trying to get me to drink though! Frankly, if you’re a friend and judging me for not drinking, then I’m considering how much of a friend you are. Harsh, but true.


Related: Who Would Be On Your Dream Team?


I remember going out clubbing with friends of friends who pretended to act drunk. I had a horrible night. I just wanted to have fun. I have no idea if I had anything to drink that night or not. Knowing me, I probably had something but I wasn’t there to drink, I was there to have fun. But these people who were fake swaying on their feet … Wow I was so annoyed at them. Do I write that off as “that’s what you get for going clubbing with an 18 year old?” or do I hold it as stupid behaviour because if it’s normal & acceptable, how will it change?


Not drinking as a woman… “are you pregnant?”


Oh boy. I can relate. No, I’m not pregnant. No, I’m not trying to get pregnant. I just don’t want a drink. I make cocktails sometimes. I also make mocktails. That’s literally all there is to it! 


Right now I’m on antibiotics for two weeks so I can’t drink, even if I wanted to. I also can’t tell you the last time I had a drink. I think I had two glasses of sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve so they could be the last time, I don’t know. Maybe go look at my Instagram…if I took a photo the last time I drank.


What is most interesting to me about this topics is the feeling of being able to control yourself to become a moderator. I’m learning this right now after seeing a dietician last year. Basically the short story is that I didn’t eat enough during the day and then I over ate at night. This year I am snacking during the day like I was told to, but then I still find that I eat too much at night sometimes. It’s very interesting to see the difference between needing to eat at night because I didn’t eat enough during the day and have it just eating at night, even though right now I don’t really need to because I’m full enough. The lack of food during the day created a need to eat, but now that has been removed, I’m left with a habit to eat. My dietitian and I don’t have weight loss goals. We have habit switching goals. Over time, even over the past two months, I am slowly teaching myself to notice the habit of eating at night when I no longer need to. It’s working for me and food. With the right support, could that work for you and alcohol if needed? Again, I’m not a health professional. And I’m dealing with food with the support of a professional.


Can your GP or the helplines above teach you to moderate? Will the more people who moderate change the overall drinking culture for Australia?


11 Replies to “Aussies & Alcohol”

  1. This is such an interesting topic. I used to regular consume alochol. Not to get drunk however. I drank socially and because I enjoyed a glass of wine at the end of the day. I used to work in health and almost every single ‘bad’ day I had, someone would try to remedy me by telling me to go home and have a glass of wine. And I found it crazy the amount of health workers that did this to get through challenging times at work. Last year I found alcohol not agreeing with me, so I almost completely gave up, with only drinking at special occasions. You would not believe the amount of people that found this odd and at times didn’t like it. It’s like I wasn’t fun when I didn’t drink. This made me take careful attention of my duty as a social influencer on my blog and how by just posting images of myself holding a wine glass brought connotations that 1. I was a regular drinker and 2. I thought it was ok for people to drink all the time. And I don’t. So I stopped and I let my readers know my reasons why. I don’t really like seeing social hashtags encouraging drinking, but that’s just me wanting people to look after themselves. I am passed caring about what people think of my lack of drinking aka fun and more needs to be said about people that encourage others to drink.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I remember your posts about not wanting to influence others to drink. I’m hoping I just scare people off of asking me about drinking. Actually, last year a colleague I didn’t really know at a casual job just assumed I was a non drinker – I couldn’t even remember having had a conversation with them often, let alone about drinking.

  2. It’s so good that you’ve never found yourself pressured to drink when you don’t want to. It’s the thing that just does my head in among my husband’s group of friends! I think for me, coming from a sporting background, I’ve seen just how hardcore the Australian culture of drinking is. And I do like your idea that if more of us practised legitimate moderation, that maybe we can lead the way to making that way of drinking more ‘normal’!

    thanks for listening in Ness!

    1. I’ve certainly had people offer me drinks when I don’t want them, but I can’t remember ever feeling pressure around it. I find it so ironic that sporting and alcohol mix so much. You’d think athletes would be one group who would stay away from it for the health benefits of being a non drinker.

  3. It is interesting isn’t it. We tend to go to the pub for lunch or for a drink after work… but it’s quite common that people go an not actually drink anything alcoholic. It never really occurred to me until I read your post about how many people go and don’t drink alcohol.

    1. That sounds like a good balance of people Nadia. And if you haven’t noticed I guess that means no one cares. Keep that group – they sound lovely and accepting.

  4. I can go to lunch and not drink. I can go out to dinner and not drink. I can have one drink at lunch and stop. I would never try to convince anyone to drink and lots of my friends don’t. I tend to get tipsy after three and rarely drink more than that anyway. I loved your first point about people saying they don’t drink during the week or alone. They use that as an excuse to binge drink on the weekend sometimes, which I think is probably worse for your brain. Although my most recent post was ALL about drinking, it was fanciful and I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to drink until you’re drunk. Great post Vanessa 🙂

    1. I’m very ad-hoc with drinking – and frankly rarely drink outside of the house because I don’t like drinking enough to justify the cost.

  5. Oh my goodness I’m so excited that our podcast inspired a blog post! Bam! In reference to me not drinking alcohol alone or during the week, it’s not a decision it’s just something that happens. My alcohol consumption is purely peer pressure based – It just wouldn’t occur to me to have a glass of wine unless someone else was going to. Also I feel like when I take a month off alcohol I need to explain that I’m that I’m not a big drinker anyway – I know I shouldn’t care what other people think but booze free months are often associated with people who have a booze problem that’s out of control and that’s not me at all. I drink less than almost all of my mates. Which actually isn’t very difficult – they all love a drop!

    I think it also depends on who you hang around with as to whether or not you’ll get peer pressured by your mates. I’m a theatre/arts/writer kid and alcohol is pretty much a given in that community. I’ve got mates who are into fitness and alcohol just isn’t a part of their social life at all. It’s an enormous part of mine so it’s a big call for me to not drink on weekends when I’m hanging out with my mates because they all drink. As does most of my family.

    You’re super lucky you’ve never experienced drinking pressure! My mates don’t pressure me but they certainly wouldn’t stop me if I decided to break a booze free streak. 🙂

    I think the drinking culture in Australia is really appalling (I’ve travelled all over the world and experienced Saturday nights on every continent and Australian CBDs wipe the floor with almost everywhere else when it comes to drunk and disorderly behaviour) but having said that there are people (like yourself) who take no part in it whatsoever which might make it seem like we don’t have that a big a problem with it in Oz when we actually do. I have mates who haven’t had a booze free day since they were teenagers and I’m not even exaggerating.

    I love hearing about other people’s experiences with alcohol though and how these experiences really shape their relationship with it. You sound like you’ve got it all sorted! x

  6. I think it’s such a shame how Aussies have a bad reputation around alcohol. As for me, I could take it or leave it and usually I leave it! Plus some wines give me hay fever anyways x

    1. I have actually notice I sneeze sometimes after wine and wondered if the wine was the cause. But it’s not regular enough to say for sure.

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