Most parents who drink hope to set a good example of balance for their kids. We hope that our children will become adults who are comfortable in any situation and able to enjoy alcohol without ever slipping too far into risky drinking. But what if our children find when they grow up that they are one of those people who cannot drink safely?
In Australia and New Zealand the month of July gives parents an opportunity to model an alternative. Aussies and Kiwis accept pledges in a month long marathon of sobriety that has raised over $28 million AUD in the past 10 years to help families affected by cancer. Passing over the fine wines, craft beers, flavored vodkas and boutique gins and choosing alcohol free at every event for 31 full days can be a daunting task. But it can influence how a child sees the normality of routine drinking.
I heard of Dry July for the first time two years ago on an Australian website called Hello Sunday Morning. While desperately googling "Am I an Alcoholic" and "How to Stop Drinking without AA", I stumbled over HSM and began blogging my way dry among others on three-month or twelve-month alcohol free challenges. I didn't fit the profile of the chronically relapsing, dangerous drunk that is often unfairly associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, but knew I needed to stop drinking and didn't seem to be able to do it alone. So I joined the international crowd on HSM and began writing my way out of the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of drink, drunk and regret.
It's hard to stay sober a world where socializing at events usually includes alcohol so the community on HSM recently put together a list of 55 reasons to stay sober for a member who asked for inspiration. The 11 year old daughter of another member, who had never seen the list, hit each point perfectly in this poem she downloaded for her mom to celebrate her first 30 sober days.
“Thirty days ago you surrendered . You mustered up some courage and asked for help.
You began a new way of life. Slowly, you became honest. You became a giver. You took Less.
You began to feel ......Pleasure, Pain, Sadness, and Joy
Thirty days ago you got Sober.”
I think Dry July is a brilliant initiative that should be international. It raises a lot of questions about why it's so hard to take even a temporary break from drinking. In a world where health conscious people can choose spiked sparkling water over beer, where sake replaces green tea after yoga, where women can hide up to three bottles of wine in their fashion accessories, and Mommy's Time Out wine is drunk at Wine O'clock, there is a drink for every occasion and every occasion requires a drink. It’s evidence there’s tremendous pressure to drink daily and see that as normal…
The thought of facing a dry future in this wet world left me cold to say the least. I found it took, and still a takes, a strong sense of self and a bit of a rebellious character to consistently turn down the beautifully marketed drinks that are everywhere.
Many people can control and moderate their drinking in ways that I eventually found I couldn't and a lifetime of sobriety is not necessary for everyone. But if you take a minute to think about the role alcohol plays in your life, maybe a Dry July is a good idea to start resetting your routine. There is no reason that we should ever feel we need to drink and the empowering example that we can set for our children of going against the grain for something worthwhile is priceless.
If you'd like to try a Dry July-style alcohol free stint but aren't sure how to get going, check out the community at Hello Sunday Morning. We'll help you stay inspired to go AF long enough to show your kids how empowering following your own path can be.
More thoughts on taking time Alcohol Free :