No Hangover Club: Gemma Karahountris
If I told you that I quit drinking at the age of 20 after ONE bad night - you’d tell me I’m lying. I was never a big drinker to begin with, I’d drink a handful of times a year at a friend’s birthday party, and it was generally no more than 4-6 drinks. Until one night I had 12 drinks and I spent all night and all of the next day vomiting up everything. After that, I quit completely and I have not looked back since. I knew from that moment on, that I was no longer going to take part in drinking. It just wasnt me. I wasnt my true self in any of those moments where I was drinking, I simply did it because I wanted to look “cool”, “glamorous” and “sexy”, as if I wasnt already all of these things anyway! And you reading this, you are all of these things and much more! ️
Excessive alcohol consumption is glorified and romanticised in Australia and I’ve definitely seen signs of this in my own friendship circles and on social media (I mean, yoga and wine events and bottomless brunch - just to name a couple)! You could even go as far to say that alcohol in Australia is a part of our culture and plays a really large part in our social interactions. Anything from a wedding to a divorce, the birth of a baby or a loved one’s funeral - alcohol is bound to be there, and lots of it too. Chances are, you probably have mates that drink, or a partner, or family members. You may even be used to boozy birthdays and Christmases! Coming out as sober (especially as someone who RARELY drank in the first place) was met with a lot of mixed reactions and plenty of questions. It’s inevitable in a society that is saturated with alcohol.
When coming out as sober, something I heard a few times was “one wont hurt” or “come on, just one for my birthday!” Given my personal experience with alcohol, I could honestly say that I could stop at just one, because I’ve never been a regular or dependent drinker to begin with. However, in the instance where a newly sober person is being told to “just have one”, this may be damaging. What happens when one drink becomes two or four or eight? You’re back at square one. I’m sure we all know what it’s like to be peer pressured, especially when alcohol is involved. You may even be tempted by a friend telling you “red wine is actually good for you!” However, despite there being studies that suggest red wine can be “good” for us - it’s best not to drink wine solely for health reasons. Regardless of the potential or possible health benefits associated with red wine, any level of alcohol consumption will still increase your risk of alcohol-related cancer and/or long term health complications. The cons greatly outweigh the pros in this case. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies, exercising regularly and drinking lots of water are some of the best ways to live a healthy lifestyle.
However, probably one of the most common responses or misconceptions you’ll hear as a sober person is that “life without alcohol is boring” and/or “being sober is boring”. You may even have people who are closest to you tell you that you’re now “boring” and “not normal” for choosing the sober lifestyle (this definitely happened to me initially - please stick by those who SUPPORT you and not tear you down). This honestly could not be any FURTHER from the truth. From personal experience, being alcohol free is liberating. It’s the freedom to not rely on a substance for fun. It’s the clarity to be able to think straight and find healthy ways to deal with stress and moments of anxiety. It’s waking up on a Sunday morning and chasing waterfalls, as opposed to sitting in bed with a hangover. It’s being able to have interesting and meaningful conversations with friends and family at dinner, as opposed to slurring my words and falling over my own two feet. It’s being able to enjoy a drink I actually like, as opposed to pretending I like the taste of alcohol for the sake of “fitting in”. Being alcohol free has opened a whole new world for me and I’m never going back. Your alcohol free life can be whatever you want it to be, the choice is ultimately yours. The fun doesn’t stop the minute you eliminate or reduce the role that alcohol plays in your life.