By Mason Bagios, Chief Kampaigner, Kommunity Brew
There are signs that Australia’s binge-drinking culture is slowly making way for a more restrained, more responsible approach to alcohol.
And it seems much of the change is being driven by young adults, with many choosing to shun the grog altogether.
Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show that the proportion of people aged 25-29 who abstained from alcohol doubled between 2009 and 2020, jumping from 12% to 24%.
The figures were revealing for other age groups too, with the number of teetotal 18-25-year-olds rising by 59% and the number of non-drinking 30-39-
year-olds increasing by 76%.
And if we’re not passing on that drink altogether, it seems we’re certainly cutting down, with moderation the new watchword. A 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey indicated that around 50% of recent drinkers were taking steps to moderate their drinking.
So what’s driving the change?
Improved health: Better health is the number one factor for 49% of people changing their drinking habits, according to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education*.
Less social stigma: Alcohol has long been seen as a social lubricant, from birthday parties and barbecues to business lunches and after-work de-briefs. But going booze-free is now often considered the more modern option.
Steering clear of the stereotypes: Alcohol is often associated with reckless behaviour, being drunk and disorderly, dysfunctional relationships and poor decision-making. Taking a more responsible approach to alcohol goes hand in hand with a greater sense of social responsibility.
Stronger messages: Messages of moderation are everywhere, from schools, and sports and community groups, to bloggers, influencers and health advocates.
Generational change: When the downsides can no longer be ignored, the next generation sits up and declares enough is enough.
Tasty alternatives: Mocktails are officially on the menu and kombucha is available in a growing number of bars and restaurants.
High achievers: Today it’s the thinkers, the entrepreneurs and the go-getters who are feted. Not the party animals.
Battle of the bulge: Alcohol contains ‘empty calories’. Curbing your drinking not only helps keep your weight in check but it also makes more calories available for actual food.
Saving money: According to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education*, 23% of people cutting down on their drinking were doing so for financial reasons.
Genuine connections: There’s a growing desire to connect with people in an authentic way, rather than relying on the looseness that alcohol brings.
Mental health: Growing sensitivity around depression and anxiety is highlighting the strong link between alcohol and mental health issues.
Role models: Google sober celebrities and there are many. Famous or not, a growing number of people have had their ah-hah moment and declared their relationship with alcohol over for good.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate social situations if you’ve decided to step away from the booze.
1. Be the designated driver. Your friends will love you and it removes the social expectation to drink.
2. Find an alternative that looks the part without the downsides of alcohol.
Kommunity Brew small-batch kombucha looks great in a glass,
matches well with food and is the perfect companion in any social
3. Laugh lots. We’re conditioned to think it’s the drink that’s making the
occasion fun, but it’s laughter and great conversation that are the real