It’s a trend that Chris Raine – CEO of Hello Sunday Morning – has noticed. “There’s a greater level of young people abstaining. The culture is shifting,” he says.
Though Chris recognises that alcohol still plays a dominant role in Australian society. “Drinking is such a strong part of our culture – whether with friends, family, or in our professional life – that to make a choice not to can be jarring for a lot of people.”
One way Hello Sunday Morning is helping people make this transition is with Daybreak, a digital program that provides an active support community for those taking a break from drinking. “[Quitting] can be very lonely; you have to define who you are and what you care about. It’s not always a pleasurable experience, because it's really important to be accepted,” Chris says.
Daybreak seeks to provide a network that negates some of this loneliness. “People sign up and commit to their goals, and there’s peer support from those going through the same thing. Then we have coaching with drug and alcohol counsellors – and psychologists, if needed – to support people through trickier moments.” So far, the program has used 16,000 of the 20,000 licences it’s funded for by the federal government – meaning it’s been a hit.
But the trend isn’t just localised. Author Ruby Warrington (who coined the ‘sober curious’ label) hosts a podcast that has seen the likes of Moby extolling the virtues of sobriety. And alcohol-free bars (‘not just for drinkers, but for everyone’) are popping up in New York City. It seems as though young people all over the world are critically examining the role alcohol plays in their lives and deciding they’re better off without it.