This week, Australians from all walks of life will embark on a month without alcohol in support of Dry July, an initiative to raise money for cancer alongside remarkably similar campaigns such as FebFast and Ocsober.
But it’s not all beer and skittles: there is an active debate about the long-term effectiveness of these programs. A number of limitations from a public health perspective include a lack of long term support for the behaviour change process, and confusing people with an “all or nothing” message about alcohol. The option of buying a “golden ticket,” for example, allows the purchaser to take a night off from the challenge and is considered by critics to encourage binge drinking. In terms of cultural change, seeing a brief period of abstinence as an inherently monstrous task probably serves to reinforce the importance of alcohol in our lives and proves ultimately ineffective, if not destructive.
But don’t get us wrong: it’s great to hear the volume increasing when we talk about alcohol consumption. We’re here to help you use movements like Dry July as steps towards a more conscious drinking culture, and change your own relationship with alcohol.
Feel good about it
Some of us feel fine about our relationship with alcohol. However, it is only when we take a break and realise how our bodies and minds feel without it that we begin to second guess ourselves. This realisation can be the first stepping stone to delve a little deeper and become a more conscious drinker.
Find support during the challenge
Let’s not kid ourselves: entirely avoiding alcohol for a month is an arduous task, and support goes a long way. Whether you have some mates doing the challenge with you, or turn to the Hello Sunday Morning community, knowing that others are with you can make all the difference. Many members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have done similar challenges and felt empowered by their achievement.
When members of the Hello Sunday Morning community have taken a break from alcohol in the past, their understanding of how we use alcohol in our social lives has evolved. According to our app data, attending a wedding sober and celebrating without alcohol, are most likely to lead to a change in your relationship with alcohol. Dry July similarly encourages participants to realise that alcohol is not a necessary component of socialising. No doubt over the month, those partaking in the challenge will be attending social events, entirely alcohol-free. For some people this may well be a first.
Most importantly, you should approach a challenge like Dry July mindfully. What does not drinking for a month mean for you? For your identity, for how you understand your relationship with alcohol? This also means allowing yourself to feel empowered rather than restricted during the challenge. By consciously reflecting on the process, you can reframe any ‘missteps’ as part of your journey, rather than as failures.
Dry July is a great opportunity to start changing your relationship with alcohol and say “Hello” to more Sunday mornings. We’re here to help.