Raising awareness around drinking
It’s Alcohol Awareness Week (organised by Alcohol Change UK), and this year’s theme is alcohol and relationships. Makes sense, right? Alcohol and relationships are intertwined. Socialising with the people in our lives is exactly when the bottles get cracked open. But what happens when alcohol starts to disrupt these relationships?
Is your drinking affecting others?
To mark Alcohol Awareness Week this year, we’re asking you to take a moment to reflect. Most of us know that our behaviours can impact other people. But it can be harder to see when drinking habits are having a knock-on effect on those around us.
We’ve all felt the pressure to drink at some stage or another. Beers after work; goaded into shots in a club; persuaded into a glass of wine at dinner. And it can feel unavoidable—because you’re the boring one if you say no, right? But here’s the kicker. You’ve probably pushed someone else in exactly the same way. Buying them a drink without asking, saying ‘Go on, have one more!’, or even teasing them for not drinking.
It feels like innocent encouragement to you, but it can feel like a lot of pressure on the other side. Pressure that often leads them to drink more than they intended.
Acting out under the influence
Ever said or done something while drinking that you would never say or do sober? Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, so it’s not surprising if you behave in a way you wouldn’t dream of doing sober.
Sure, most of the time that will result in nothing more than some harmless over-sharing. But while alcohol has your guard down, it’s easy to end up saying or doing something that hurts someone else. Depending on how drunk you are, you might not even remember it. But the other person certainly will—and your relationship will suffer the effects.
Not being there for your loved ones
We’ve all been there. The banging headache. The dry mouth. The clear inability to focus on the busy day ahead, instead hoping to stay in bed nursing your hangover. For those with an empty calendar and no responsibilities, this might not be a problem.
But say you have to cancel plans. Or you do drag yourself out of bed, but then can’t engage with the people around you and be present for them. That’s where you’re likely to upset those who were hoping to spend some quality time with you.
These scenarios are of course just examples—alcohol can disrupt your relationships in myriad ways. That’s why it’s good to stay aware, and Alcohol Awareness Week is a great opportunity to have open conversations. Talk to the people in your life. What do they think about how alcohol influences your time together? Is everyone comfortable with that?
You might already be working on changing your drinking habits. Or maybe you’ve taken one of our alcohol-free challenges. If so, we hope problems like these are no longer an issue—all the same, reflection like this can still be valuable.
Improve your relationships by taking a break from drinking
Drink is the social norm when we want to connect and relax with friends—sometimes to the point where connection is impossible. Think how counterintuitive that is! Slurred words, repetitive stories, triggered insecurities, even memory gaps. Leave alcohol out, and you can be completely present for authentic, rich conversations.
In fact, taking a break from drinking could be a way to bond. Even when it’s only a short time, a unifying challenge gives you a shared experience. You can find new ways to support each other, relate to individual trials and triumphs, and in the end feel closer.
And that’s on top of how much more present you’ll be (physically and emotionally) without the draining weight of a hangover. Ever heard the phrase “You can’t fill a cup from an empty jug”? This is a classic example. If you’re tired, unwell, or foggy, then it’s impossible for you to be your best self for someone else. Cutting back on drinking ticks the boxes for your physical and mental health, and for your relationships too.
Interested in finding out more about how to do that? Get started by signing up for our free four-part mindset hacks video series.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.