The Perfect Time for New Traditions

Tired of the cultural expectations that follow the holidays every year?

It's easy to get swept up in a drinking culture. 

The old saying you shouldn't go to the barber shop unless you want a haircut often becomes the mantra for recovering addicts during the holidays. Alternatively, making the choice not to drinkamongst the merriment of cocktail parties and holiday shindigscan be a powerful method for celebrating achievements and embracing new life in 2017.

I recently read about a group of young professionals from Brisbane who started a movement in 2010 to help change ideas about drinking alcohol. The movement is Hello Sunday Morning (HSM). This is a recent blog. I chose this blog because it relates to the holiday season. Celebrating life is a powerful concept, and the holidays are a good time to focus on that concept.

HSM is not a form of addiction treatment. The people who have joined HSM might be early stage alcoholics or they might simply be tired of cultural expectations to drink alcohol. For most of my life when someone said they have given up alcohol, the first reaction is that something is wrong with their health. What a crazy reaction. The guys who started HSM felt the same way — they experimented with six months of sobriety and learned about themselves clear headed and sharp. Their movement has grown to be the largest such group online.

I often tell people in treatment who have a difficult time seeing themselves as alcoholic or a drug addict to just drop those labels and make a decision to give sobriety a chance — see how thinks go after 3, 6, 9, 12 months. I tell them that if they want to go back to drinking after giving sobriety a chance, the liquor stores and bars will still be open — they aren’t going anywhere.

It’s amazing how many people come back and report that life has greatly improved since they’ve been sober. I think it’s great that many young people are choosing sobriety, whether it’s to be healthy, productive, or to take a better looking selfie at a moment’s notice, whatever the reason, it’s a valid choice. Alcohol is not friendly to the mind and body if it’s consumed above moderation. Moderation is defined by most experts as just a drink or two a day — many young people who go out drinking at clubs fall into the binge category.

Alcohol can negatively affect school, job performance, health, mental acuity in general, and it can be tough on relationships if the partner doesn’t like the constant drinking, partying lifestyle. Choosing sobriety regardless of societal pressure shows individuality, self-awareness and independence. Drinking just to be like others is not a good reason to drink.

In addiction treatment, we see people who’ve reached a more serious stage and our focus is on medical stabilization and dealing with the bio-psycho-social ramifications of addiction. Movements like HSM deal with general attitudes about drinking and the choice to not drink. Wow, sobriety as a voluntary life-style choice, even if you aren’t an alcoholic – what a concept!

"Celebrating life is a powerful concept, and the holidays are a good time to focus on that concept."

Mike Farmer of New Day Counseling is a Health + Wellness Blogger for South magazine. 

Susan and Mike Farmer of New Day Counseling are South's expert recovery specialists. The husband and wife team have nearly 50 years of addiction treatment experience. Visit their website for a complete list of trusted recovery resources. Learn more in our Health + Wellness issue on page 3 and 86.