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Australian booze culture – why drinking is a societal problem

Understanding the dangers of booze culture and it's ingrained place in Australian society

It’s no secret that drinking alcohol is considered to be an intrinsic part of Australian culture. However, drinking excessively as a nation isn’t something to rejoice, nor is it something to be proud of.  

According to Diane Young, therapist and addiction specialist at South Pacific Private, drinking alcohol excessively is unfortunately ingrained into Australian culture and is often encouraged and praised within the community. “Going to the pub after work for beers multiple times a week and having one too many wines at a birthday party is commonplace for many Australians - it’s considered socially acceptable - but the reality is that it’s not and can result in alcohol dependence.”

The Global Drug Survey 2021, which looks at responses from more than 32,000 people from 22 countries, found that on average Australians reported getting drunk 27 times in 2020 - that’s more times than the residents in every one of the other countries. 

If we look back to our childhood, most of us are exposed to it from an early age in an unhealthy way. “Many Australians are introduced to alcohol in their teenage years and many believe drinking to excess is acceptable,” says Young. Teens often mirror learned behaviour after years of watching their family members imbibe in a way that is considered in the family system as harmless, but from a physical and mental health perspective can be dangerous. 

In our culture today, particularly with Covid-19 and all of the inherent changes we as a society are experiencing, we long for connection and conviviality. Having a drink with our family, friends and mates allows us to relax and release the pressures we are under. We believe that we can connect with those we care about in a more meaningful way. We can have a laugh, it can boost our mood and take our mind off any of life’s problems.

“Often this is what drinking entices us to believe,” says Young. “For a percentage of the population, this will inevitably lead to addiction and the loss of ourselves, our principles and our values. Of course no-one expects this to happen to them,” she adds. “They will not lose control. The sad fact is that our society has a significant drinking problem and many of those with a problem live in delusion about how their drinking is impacting their loved ones and others around them.” 

The societal problems such as a relationship and marriage breakdown, domestic violence, coercive control and the more hidden problems and connected addictions: drugs, gambling and sex are the high costs we as a society pay for our our believe that we ‘enjoy having a drink’.

For the many people, from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic backgrounds of our society, who do find alcohol a problem, there is help available. There shouldn’t be any shame in asking for help - many of us will need professional help and support at one point in our lives. 

“In many homes across our country, Australians are making the decision to get help, take stock of their lives, stop or moderate their drinking and to look at the corresponding and underlying problems associated with their drinking,” explains Young. “We will always want to celebrate our connections and achievements, to commemorate our losses and griefs. There is virtue in these acknowledgements, however ensuring we are teaching our children and teenagers that we can celebrate these events without harming ourselves or them is the challenge for us all.” 

If you’re concerned you may have a problem with alcohol, you can use our self-assessment tool here or call our team on 1800 063 332.

 

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