Sometimes refusing a drink feels harder than it should. Occasionally I often think it is easier to just have a drink and not be questioned. I wish it wasn’t the case.
Like many others in our communities, I’m a product of the culture I’ve grown up with, which tells me every day that I deserve that drink. Even if I don’t feel like one, it’s easy to get caught up in the desire to fit in with what others are doing – which often seems to involve alcohol. Intellectually I know this is learned behaviour and a construct that has been heavily reinforced by alcohol industry advertising and popular culture (Offspring and Suits immediately come to mind). The hundreds of memes I see on my Instagram and Facebook feeds show me that I’m certainly not the only one.
Not drinking is often seen as a problem. In our culture drinking alcohol appears to be the norm for social activities and not drinking is a rarity. Within some of my social circles the only acceptable answer to the question of “why aren’t you drinking?” is: “I’m pregnant”. Anything else will be met with calls of: “soft”, “boring betty”, “nancy no fun”, “one won’t hurt”, “this is a party”, “it’s Friday” and “enjoy yourself, let your hair down”.
As I get closer to 30, I have no trouble answering the question of “why aren’t you drinking”. My usual response is “for health reasons”. Over the years, going to many social occasions where the booze will run as free as a river, I have learnt that you do not need to justify your behaviour or decision to anybody – especially when you don’t feel like drinking. Having a response that is the truth can help give you the strength to go to a gathering where you know there will be alcohol. You shouldn’t be ashamed of trying to improve yourself.
When I am going out somewhere and I don’t feel like an alcoholic drink, I will drink something special that I wouldn’t have every day. Be it Pellegrino in a wine glass with a garnish, a virgin mojito or a jazzed-up juice. Not only am I drinking something special that makes me feel good, I feel included in the occasion. And, best of all, I get to wake up without a hangover and enjoy the next day to the max.
Call to action: If you have chosen not to drink, whether for one night or the rest of your life, how do you deal with the peer pressures of drinking? Or do you put pressure on others to drink? We would love to hear your stories and experiences, please share and post them on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AoATeam/
- Unsure about your drinking? Please visit:http://actonalcohol.org.au/taking-action/action/think-about-your-own-drinking/
- Tips for Partying Safely: http://actonalcohol.org.au/facts/fact/tips-for-partying-safely/