Australians are well known for loving warm summer afternoons spent by the water with mates and a chilled beverage or few. With neighbourhood BBQ’s, work Christmas parties and long hot days outdoors, summer seems like the worst time to cut back on your alcohol intake.
However, it seems that the longstanding perception of Australian drinking culture is beginning to change. The National DrinkWise report found that only 6% of Australians over the age of 18 consume a daily alcoholic beverage (down from 9% in 2007), and only 37% of the population drink on a weekly basis (down from 47% in 2007). Not only are we drinking less regularly, but Australians also seem to be moving away from dangerous binge drinking patterns towards more responsible alcohol intake: with over 63% of participants usually consuming less than two standard drinks on any occasion.
For experts in the public health industry, these trends are highly encouraging. Peter Hayton, senior psychologist at The Banyans Health and Wellness comments that “many people are aware that they are drinking too much, or would simply like to reduce how much they are consuming.” He encourages people to find sober substitutes for their favourite drinks, and work on cutting back gradually rather than entirely cutting out.
Set a date to start.
Peter recommends setting a start date for when you want to begin reducing your consumption. “Knowing when you are going to begin can help you feel more committed to your decision to cut back,” he explains.
Same, same but different.
Many alcoholic drinks now have non-alcoholic options which are very similar. If you are concerned about what other people may think of your sobriety, drinking a non-alcoholic alternative in a wine or champagne glass can help you fly under the radar.
Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
One quick and easy option for reducing your alcohol intake is to half it! Take turns drinking alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and be intentional in taking your time to enjoy them.
Try other activities to celebrate and enjoy yourself.
One way to change the culture in your social circle is the remove yourselves from your comfort zone and try something new. Perhaps you could try doing new activities together, such as playing lawn bowls or going rock climbing, instead of your usual drinking activities. Removing the idleness of your hands can be an easy way to reduce your urge to fill them with an alcoholic beverage.
On the rocks!
If you are struggling to limit the number of drinks you are consuming, turning to the freezer may be an option. In filling your glass with plenty of ice, each “drink” actually contains less alcohol than it usually would. With the hot weather around, this is a win-win solution.
Count the drinks.
Peter recommends setting yourself a limit before you begin drinking for how many drinks you want consume. Similarly, he suggests tracking your drinks with more than just your memory. Keeping your bottle caps in your pocket or keeping a tally on your phone may be useful.
People rarely succeed when they do things in isolation. Ask your friends to participate with you, or seek help from a General Practitioner or therapist. Alcohol can be a very dangerous to remove all at once if you have developed a physical dependency. Peter encourages that those drinking substantial levels of alcohol (regularly drinking more than seven standard drinks) to seek medical guidance before undertaking any kind of detox.
The Banyans Health and Wellness is a therapeutic residential retreat that can help you reduce your alcohol consumption and create long-lasting change. Through a variety of one-on-one therapies, our highly-experienced professionals at The Banyans partner with guests to uncover underlying causes of alcohol use and encourage fulfilling results. If you think that a tailored program at The Banyans Health and Wellness may be useful for yourself or a loved one, please contact us for a non-obligatory discussion on +61 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or submit an enquiry below.