I love overpriced Red Bull vodka as much as anyone living off part-time jobs and Studylink, but this month I decided to give Dry July a good go. There are three reasons why:
My most asked question so far this month has been “why?” (closely followed by “are you an alcoholic?” but let’s not dwell on that).
Coming into Dry July with the mindset that it’d be easy, I figured why not swap the house beer for an evening coffee? What’s the difference between a mojito and a virgin mojito anyway? But to be honest, I missed the point of why I drink and probably why a lot of us drink. I sure don’t drink because it’s cheap – looking @ you $12 watered-down shots on the Viaduct!! A beer or three on weeknights with flatties and a whole pile of drinks every second weekend in town is my vibe. I like to tell myself I’ll never drink again after every night out as I sprawl across someone else’s bathroom floor and relish in how cold the tiles feel, but give me two weeks and a drinking buddy and I’m all-in, once again.
I asked a few students* for their take on drinking culture:
“When I’m in social situations I drink quite a lot, usually weaker drinks because it helps calm my social anxiety” ~ Charlie, undergrad, 22.
“I don’t drink a lot at home. Maybe an occasional glass of savvy b if I’m feeling fancy” ~ Jing, postgrad, 22.
“What started as infrequent, and not a lot, swiftly became frequent and a lot” ~ Alex, undergrad, 21.
*names have been changed for privacy
I wondered whether cutting down would help me out in my quest to be awake and functioning on a Saturday morning. Could I be like those weekend morning runners I see while slumped in the back of an Uber at 5:26am on a Saturday morning? Maybe. I jumped onto this site – cheers.org.nz and filled out their drinking quiz to tell me about my personal habits and compare them to other women my age (21yo’s). I won’t tell you my life story, but here’s the summary:
“You drink more than most people like you” – Big surprise (not)! I have a feeling the ‘person like me’ they’re basing this off isn’t accruing a student loan, four years into uni and working a couple jobs to pay their rent in a mouldy flat with a shared laundry-come-bathroom, but it’s chill. Can’t say I’m surprised that I’m above average, and I’d be a terrible Shore Girl if it didn’t give me just a little bit of pride. Either I’m going too hard, or 21yo women aren’t going hard enough – but alas, like the AA mantra, the first step is admitting it’s on me, right?
This cute little graph tells me I’m a binge drinker. Am I surprised? No. Will I go back to binge drinking after this month? Yes. But, I’ll probably do so a little less often, and with a little bit more caution. The site gave me good advice: drinking four or less ‘standard drinks’ per night out, and doing so over an increased spread of time = long-term quality of life benefits. I’ll run through the benefits I gathered from a few sources like it’s an American pharmaceutical ad. Cutting down alcohol consumption may lead to benefits of liver relief, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, healthier skin, weight loss, better sleep, increased energy, better mood and cost-saving.
Cold turkey on alcohol = health benefits isn’t necessarily the answer, as the same benefits can come from Dry July (translation: taking any month of the year off alcohol). They can also come from cutting down just a little and drinking only a few nights per week: up to four standard drinks spread across a few hours. For the Average Joe who can’t tell four standard drinks in a line-up, that’s four 330ml beers at 4% strength, or four correctly poured wines (in my case, maybe 1.5 full-to-the-brim wines). Fun time to note that the correct portion of wine is only 100ml, so I suppose I’m not being ripped off on a night out with my tiny cab sav.
It was a bit of a struggle to link an event to not drinking, but we’ve managed it. In week two of the semester, Thursday the 29th of July, there will be Free Mocktail Making at Shadows, from 1-3pm. Come check it out, have a few and follow the FB event via the QR code here: