Last month was “Dry July”, which gave us a chance to focus on ourselves, our drinking habits and the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle. Speaking with a group of blokes about this, I asked them to have a think about their attitudes towards drinking which one bloke replied “I just love the taste”. This is a fair enough response, and it’s also the same problem I have with my kids, who love ice cream and chocolate, but trying to teach them that you don’t have it every day takes effort.

The fact that going alcohol free for a month is seen as a challenge for many, highlights just how prevalent alcohol use is in Australia. Alcohol is our most widely used and most accepted drug, and over time it has formed part of our Aussie culture and identity. Its use and associations are many, including: advertising, sport, social occasions, celebrations and within the work place culture. Peer pressure does not only happen to teenagers! Think of the last time you were encouraged to have a drink when you were not planning to? As Joe E. Lewis once quoted “I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.” There seems to be an underlying normalisation, glamorisation and justification for drinking which is also present in pop-culture, movies (The Hangover), social media (my “friend” who posts it’s beer o’clock).

Now I am not saying I’m a shining light leading by example when it comes to abstaining from having a drink, my arm is often twisted a bit too easy. We should all take the chance to have a think about our own individual drinking habits, behaviours and attitudes:-

  • What example do I set when I drink?
  • How often/how much am I drinking?
  • Is it to relax, cope or deal with stress?
  • Is it habitual or become a dependency?

For those who do enjoy a night out, here are a few points to help reduce unhealthy drinking behaviours:

  • What mood/state of mind am I in before I drink? Alcohol is a depressant, but can also enhance negative behaviours eg. anger/aggression, reckless risk taking;
  • What sort of situation/crowd am I drinking with? Young people, personal safety eg. am I with people I know and trust in a safe environment or am I out with randoms?
  • Self regulation - know your limits and plan ahead. Designated driver, take a swag, don’t risk it!
  • Harm minimisation. Have a decent meal, serve finger food, alcohol dehydrates (drink water);
  • Alcohol Free days. 2-3 days per week will show two benefits 1. I can go without a drink. 2. Has regenerative effects on the liver (health benefits).

During this year’s seemingly endless election outcome result I saw this creative post showing a picture of our politicians with the caption “No matter who wins they will not fix your life, better plan on doing it yourself”. Like a lot of things in life and especially alcohol we can’t expect governments and multimillion dollar ad campaigns to reduce the risk, control our use and fix alcohol related problems. Moderation, awareness, responsibility and balance is the key to our alcohol use.

Terry and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
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