When it’s socially acceptable to not drink: Embracing Feb Fast and Dry July

This February I participated in my second unofficial Feb Fast. When I completed the first Feb Fast the year before, I did it as part of a group. I finished it and went right back to the way things were. This year, instead of just a month without drinking, the Fast became a re-evaluation of my relationship with alcohol.

Over the last few years I have made decisions reducing processed foods in my diet and reducing the amount of plastic waste I add to landfills. Alcohol consumption had largely escaped my scrutiny. The messages, which I had clearly internalised, were that alcohol is part of celebrations and relaxation. A shiraz after golf, a drink after a hard day at the office and of course drinks with friends, and bubbles to celebrate life’s big moments.  But does it have to be that way?

Feb Fast provided me with the opportunity to say no to alcohol in settings where there was an expectation that I would drink, based on my previous behaviour and on social norms. The program gave me a legitimate reason not to drink, which almost everyone respected.

Feb Fast allowed me to make choices about when and what I would drink. After a day out I now have a sparkling water with a shot of lime and loads of ice as my first drink. A long day at the office may end with a shiraz but I may choose to go for a long walk first. Thinking about drinking in general and my drinking in particular, allowed me to examine the messages I had internalised and whether they were actually appropriate to my lifestyle.

I will also participate in ‘dry July’ this year, for two reasons – one is to continue to strengthen my ability to choose my path and the other is to be a positive role model to my children. My lifestyle is all about making healthy choices and choosing to moderate alcohol consumption is part of that.

Jay.

I did a dry January 5 years ago and liked the change and feel good factor that much that i am still dry. I was quite a heavy drinker but my life has changed for the better beyond recognition.

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