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To Drink or Not to Drink? Living in an Alcocentric Society

Living in an alcoholcentric society

Club Soda member Adrian talks about how hard it is to quit the booze in an alcocentric society, where we are encouraged to drink at every turn.

Living in an alcocentric society

Through general conversation, I have noticed that those who choose not to drink are often viewed as ‘broken’. Of course, this is not everybody’s view, but it’s prevalent enough to notice that a considerable number of drinkers assume there is something fundamentally flawed in the makeup of somebody who chooses not to drink.

It’s only when you spend the time to break it all down you realize that the only conclusion lies on the other side of the opinion spectrum. Whilst in the minority, those who choose not to drink are some of the strongest people you will ever meet; fully in control of their lives and happier than they have ever been.

But Dry Months are where the tricky bit starts…

Anybody who has given Dry January a shot (no pun) will tell you that quitting alcohol in a culture so centred around consumption is no mean feat. It’s difficult for an abundance of reasons both physical and emotional. Those who participate will have no choice but alter their day-to-day routines to facilitate such change. When February 1st finally arrives, you can bet your life that some participants will have few personal reasons for returning to their drinking behaviours. Rather, it will be because of the sheer discomfort that comes with change. It’s only fitting that most non-drinkers will agree that committing to never again putting alcohol past the lips is the easy part; the dynamic is the tougher nut to crack albeit the most healing of processes.

The mass exodus from the dry valleys of January indicates the discomfort of change. Uprooting one’s life so drastically shines floodlights upon the cracks and lines of life a favourite Whiskey masks. These scars run long and deep across the foundations of our identities. If you want to see who you really are in the eyes of both the world and more importantly, yourself; becoming a non-drinker is a certain fast track to a very uncomfortable reality check. You are essentially stepping into the shadows of the minority, and you will be disowned and forgotten by many.

“I’ll take one identity, alcohol-free please”

In an alcoholcentric society, if you don’t play ball it is incredibly difficult to join in. Spend three hours around a friend intent on getting drunk, and you will notice how antisocial the interaction is. It becomes a one-way conversation, where the drinker’s core priority is their next drink. You will find yourself discussing their life and their career (or lack thereof) on repeat. It’s all very narcissistic.

It is a very lonely place, and it’s hardly attractive. People who choose not to drink don’t do it for masochistic reasons. On the contrary, they embrace change because they understand that a life without alcohol is the genuine article, as it allows one the best possible opportunity to love one’s self and others: to truly live.

Anybody strong enough to choose to maintain a sober existence, against the tide, is anything but broken.


Article By

Club Soda Community Manager.

One comment on “To Drink or Not to Drink? Living in an Alcocentric Society

  1. philcain
    philcain on

    Many thanks for an illuminating post, Adrian!

    I quite agree that the extra challenges involved in not drinking are enough to demolish the foundations of any stigma. A lot of this seems to me to come down to suspicion born of irrational tribalism, like the feeling of being sidelined at a conference because we don’t have a name badge. A trivial detail like this can raise the nagging question: is this person meant to be here?

    But, as absurd as some of the roots of the problem seem to be, it can’t be rationalised away. Socialising seems to be one of the abiding difficulties we face if we choose not to drink alcohol. Superficially doing so disallows us access from a common way to make connections.

    I liken the social effects of giving up alcohol to giving up Facebook, where we lose a platform allowing us to loosen up, open the lines of communication and burnish our egos. Developing the skills and habits to do this in real life without alcohol seems to take time. But it does seem to happen. People who have given up alcohol over the long term report that their feelings of social connection with friends and family are improved.

    I can’t pretend to have a radical shortcut. Some of the difficulties are out of our control. My suggestions for making it easier would be, however, to: Look for quality or quantity of social connection not both; try to learn learning how to be more carefree without the aid of alcohol; blur the perimeter of our social tribe, so drinking is not a defining characteristic of membership. Luckily the internet has made it easier than ever to find new groups.

    Alcohol free drinks which look the part can help in this. With their aid it is quite possible for someone to say having spied a bottle, “I didn’t know you weren’t drinking.” And that, to my mind, is as it should be.

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