And so it’s finally here. The first day of November, which means
October Ocsober is OVER! A whole month of staying “dry”, a month to lose the booze and raise money for a worthy cause – Healthy Harold. A month to reflect on what alcohol is, what it does, what role it plays in my life and what role it plays in our country’s culture. It has been a bit eye-opening.
The idea to do Ocsober originally came about because I was encouraging a friend of mine to cut out the 2+ liters a day of Coke Zero she was drinking. I said if she could give up the soft drink, I would give up the booze! Then I said, “And I’ll give up coffee, too!” I know, I’m genius*. I even started a fundraising page to do it “officially”. I don’t think I even broke the $200 mark, but I did raise enough to help Life Education reach 5 kids in remote areas or teach 3 vulnerable children about the dangers of alcohol misuse. If going without alcohol for one month helps even one child avoid drug and alcohol dependency, it is so worth it.
The first two weeks – especially the weekends – were the hardest part of the challenge. There were times I really wanted a drink. There were times I felt like I needed a drink. But the few times I thought I did, I managed to distract myself and I got through just fine.
It’s amazing how much you hear people talking about alcohol when you give up drinking it. I can’t tell you how many times I was met with “Oh god, WHY?” when I confessed my Ocsober commitment. I had people look at me like I was seriously crazy. The more this happened, the more scared I felt for our culture of drinking. We hear all this talk about teenage binge drinking and how awful it is, but what about adult binge drinking? Can we really blame teenagers for wanting to drink and have a good time** when they’ve grown up watching their parents do the same thing?
I wanted to share some things I’ve learned during Ocsober.
Firstly, I’m not an alcoholic. Not that I thought I was, but I was starting to wonder. If I was, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I know that I can go as long as I want to without alcohol. In the same breath, I’m worried that once I have that first drink again, I’ll slip back into old habits of having a drink every night.
People think you’re boring or there’s something wrong with you when you don’t drink. I’ve not seen anyone socially all month. Which is probably a blessing, because it would have made it that much harder to stay sober, I think.
There is a serious drinking culture problem in this country. And anyone who thinks there’s not, is probably contributing to the problem.
Some say if you cut alcohol out of your diet you will lose weight. This may be true. But it doesn’t work if you substitute ice cream and milkshakes for the alcohol. Just saying.
Healthy Harold (Life Education Australia) is a wonderful initiative which “provides positive programs that develop the social skills and knowledge necessary for effective decision-making, communication, negotiation, peer resistance and refusal in drug-related situations.” I had a baby boy and I blinked and he was at school. I’m going to blink and he’ll be 15, 16, 17 and facing pressures of drug and alcohol experimentation with his friends. I hope that when that time comes around, he’ll have learned enough to know to say NO.
It’s not too late to donate! LEA has raised $800,000 thanks to Ocsober participants. That is an incredible achievement and will go a long way to helping our kids learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
So what now? Well, as you may recall, I also gave up coffee for the month of October. And this morning, November 1, when I could have a coffee…I don’t want one. I’ll stick to my tea. For now! Tomorrow night we have plans to go out, and it will be my first test with alcohol. After going a whole month without it, I almost don’t want to drink ever again. I am not against people having a drink, and I’m certainly not against people having a good time. But sleeping well, thinking clearly, and not waking up feeling hungover and sick has been really good, and it makes me wonder why we put ourselves through that?
* So much sarcasm
** Good time is relative and open to interpretation
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