The great Australian pastime of drinking
The Saturday barbie is a cornerstone of the Australian social calendar and for some, it’s not always a sober occasion. That’s certainly understandable since we have some of the finest winegrowing regions (and weather) in the world. So perhaps it’s not surprising that many of us have had the experience of nursing a Sunday morning hangover, or that for some of us, the thought of an alcohol-free weekend (let alone an entire week without alcohol) feels unsociable.
But are we drinking too much, and does Australia have a problem with alcohol? The recently issued Global Drug Survey suggests that some of us might.
The survey which is the world's largest annual poll of drug use, asks respondents a series of questions about their use of substances - both legal and illegal. In Australia 4,931 individuals (not a nationally representative sample) completed the survey by answering in-depth questions about their consumption and perceptions of alcohol.
One figure that jumps out of the results is that 1 in 100 Australian respondents reported that they had to have emergency medical treatment after drinking.
On the flip side, more than 40 per cent of Australian participants also expressed a desire to drink less. This is heartening because it suggests that for many people there is a desire to move towards reducing their alcohol intake.
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Movements like Feb Fast, Dry July, and Ocsober gain in popularity every year. But even if you’re not giving up alcohol completely, there are some ways in which you can moderate your consumption and give your liver a chance to recover.
Goals: Be kind to yourself, but also test yourself. Different methods will work for different people. Consider starting by simply limiting your weekday drinking, or by going alcohol-free one weekend per month. Work your way up to the big league.
Experiment: There is now a broad range of alcohol-free alternatives available in stores. Some of the newer alcohol-free beers and wines hitting the market are actually well worth a try, and could serve as a useful substitute to absolute abstinence.
Scheduling: Organise an early-morning activity. You might be less likely to reach for that fourth or fifth beer if you’ve committed to a 30km bike ride at 7 the next morning.
Sharing: People often talk about the difficulty of being the only person in a group who might be trying to reduce their alcohol consumption. So don’t. Get a few friends to join you and create a shared resolution to make your next social event an alcohol-free one. Bowling (or the beach) isn’t that bad without booze.