If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, the new and improved sober movement might be just what you need.
WORDS BY LARINE STATHAM-BLAIR
Let’s be honest. Most of us consume more alcohol than we should. Data from the World Health Organisation proves it. Aussies are some of the heaviest drinkers in the world, consuming 10 litres of pure alcohol on average each, per year. Some of us drink small amounts too frequently. Others binge on the weekends, but justify it by steering clear on ‘school nights’.
We are masters at pretending it’s not a problem by applying some good old-fashioned self-deprecating humour. We talk about drinking like it’s an impressive skill. Men joke about their so-called ‘dad bods’: “bugger the six pack; I’m working on my carton or keg”. Social media is rife with funny memes about mums who need a wine to destress or escape; normalising their evening glass (or bottle). During the COVID19 lockdown of online team meetings and home-schooling, we gave our regular afternoon wind-down cocktails the nickname ‘quarantini’.
Podcasts, social pages, websites and books have popped up in recent years both here and overseas, promoting the sober lifestyle. There are even sober social clubs and events. It’s resulted in a global support network of like-minded people who relish the fact they no longer wake up suffering from ‘hangxiety’.
A decision to stop drinking doesn’t always stem from having a problem. In the course of putting together the Tipple Town Issue of Crush Magazine, we spoke to countless locals who said a drop had never passed their lips. Others said they’d recently quit drinking, cut back or were participating in alcohol-free fundraising events and challenges. Their reasons varied from physical health and fitness, weight loss and mental health to their household budget. Some over indulged when they were young or felt alcohol dependence had gradually snuck up on them. Others just didn’t like the taste or hated how it made them feel. Many outlined all the things they’d gained by rethinking their habits.
While the global sobriety trend is growing rapidly, in Australia acceptance of those who socialise sober doesn’t seem to be keeping pace. Many of our well-meaning friends will say things in jest that make us feel like a pariah for quitting or cutting back: “we can’t be friends now. You used to be fun. One won’t hurt. You’re under the thumb. Harden up”. They can become self-conscious and automatically think they’re being judged by those who are sober.
One perceived issue with many sober movements of the past is that they have been based on models of complete abstinence and, in some cases, religion. Abstinence may be necessary for those who have been directly or indirectly impacted by alcoholism, and there is an important place for these types of organisations and services. However, many people who want to cut back will not engage with so-called ‘tea totalling’ organisations where they expect to be chastised or labelled a ‘drunkard’ for enjoying an occasional tipple.
Locally, at least, our drink companies actively promote responsible consumption. More recently, drink manufactures have begun innovating to capture the emerging segment of the market that want to ‘dry out’ occasionally without the social stigma. For example, Bundaberg Rum’s parent company, Diageo, created one of the world’s first non-aloholic distilled spirits, Seedlip. They also make non-aloholic gin for their international markets. And then there are those who have based their entire business model on socialising sober. Sobah Beverages is an entirely non-alcoholic boutique beer company, based on the Gold Coast, that make their beer using Australian Aboriginal bush tucker ingredients.
If you are questioning your reliance on alcohol, pour yourself a ‘soft’ drink or mocktail, settle in, open Instagram and search for the hashtags #soberlife #sobercurious #soberliving. And the next time someone tells you they’ve cut back or quit drinking, congratulate them on making the choice that’s right for them.
Sober movements, events and influencers
Hello Sunday Morning
This Naked Mind
Sober in the Country
Drunk Mummy Sober Mummy
Sober Girls Society
Alcohol Free Project
No Booze Babes
1 heaped teaspoon Lonnie’s chai mix (or teabag)
2/3 mug cold water
1/3 mug of your favourite milk
Grating of fresh ginger
Pure honey (or rice malt syrup) to taste
For slow pleasure:
Bring chai, water and ginger to a gentle simmer in a saucepan, stirring. Add milk. Strain into a mug, add a dollop of honey to taste.
Boil the water and warm the milk first. Place all the ingredients (except honey) in a teapot, plunger or brewing mug. Strain into a mug and add honey to taste.
Mango Passionfruit Pina Colada
In a blender, combine:
250ml HOTI Mango Passionfruit Kombucha
¼ cup Nana’s Pantry Coconut Gelato
50ml coconut cream
½ cup fresh pineapple
Serve in a poco grande or tall glass and garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple
Bloody Berry Spritz
Muddle frozen berries in a tumbler
Fill glass with ice
Top with Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Blood Orange
Garnish with fresh mint