Rethinking Society’s Relationship with Alcohol

Rethinking Society’s Relationship with Alcohol

In many societies, alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in social gatherings, celebrations, and even daily routines. From after-work drinks to weekend parties, it’s often seen as a way to unwind, socialise, and have fun. However, behind the veil of social acceptance lies a stark reality: excessive alcohol consumption can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health. 

The Culture of Acceptance

Australia has a rich drinking culture, with alcohol often being a central part of social interactions. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) 79.7% of Australians aged 14 and over reported that they consumed alcohol in the past year. Additionally, 23.4% of Australians aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol at levels that placed them at risk of harm on a single occasion in the past month.


The Hidden Costs

While moderate alcohol consumption may not pose immediate health risks for everyone, the line between moderate and excessive consumption can blur quickly. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to a myriad of health issues, including liver disease, heart problems, and an increased risk of certain cancers. However, what’s often overlooked are the significant impacts on mental health.


Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means it can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety. Many people turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress or emotional pain, but in reality, it often worsens these conditions over time. According to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia, alcohol contributes to around 6,000 deaths and 400,000 hospital admissions in Australia each year, with a substantial portion attributed to mental health-related issues.


Understanding Moderation

So, how much alcohol is too much? The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) provides guidelines for safe alcohol consumption. For adults, they recommend no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime. They also advise having at least two alcohol-free days per week.


The Slippery Slope

Social Drinking: Many people start drinking socially, as a way to relax, socialise, or celebrate special occasions. As alcohol use becomes more frequent, the body may develop a tolerance to its effects, requiring larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effects. What once seemed like a few drinks may gradually turn into higher quantities as tolerance builds, increasing the risk of dependency and addiction.

Over time, what may have started as occasional social drinking can escalate into more frequent or heavier drinking patterns. Individuals may find themselves turning to alcohol to cope with stress, numb emotions, or escape from problems, leading to a reliance on alcohol to manage daily life.


Signs of Alcohol Addiction


Loss of Control: One of the hallmark signs of alcohol addiction is the inability to control or limit drinking despite negative consequences. Individuals may repeatedly attempt to cut down or stop drinking but find themselves unable to do so, even when faced with adverse effects on their health, relationships, or work.


Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms: Dependence on alcohol can lead to intense cravings for alcohol and withdrawal symptoms when not drinking. These symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, tremors, sweating, nausea, and insomnia, driving individuals to continue drinking to avoid or alleviate withdrawal discomfort.


Prioritising Alcohol: People struggling with alcohol addiction may prioritise drinking over other responsibilities, hobbies, or interests. They may spend significant time and effort obtaining, consuming, and recovering from alcohol use, neglecting other areas of their lives in the process.


Denial and Secrecy: Individuals with alcohol addiction may deny or minimise the extent of their drinking behavior, rationalising or justifying their alcohol use despite evidence of its negative impact. They may also engage in secretive behavior, such as hiding alcohol or lying about their drinking habits to avoid judgment or intervention.


As we navigate the complexities of modern life, it’s essential to question the societal norms surrounding alcohol consumption. While enjoying a drink in moderation may be harmless for some, for others, it can lead down a dangerous path. 


Remember, it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with alcohol or if you’re concerned about your drinking habits. The team at NAWA Wellness Retreat specialise in treating Alcohol Addiction and are here to help.


Learn more how NAWA Wellness can you HERE

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