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, although he recognises that alcohol still plays a big 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.”
Hello Sunday Morning is helping people make the transition with Daybreak, a digital program that provides a support community for those taking a break from the booze. “[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,” Raine says.
Daybreak provides its community with a network that helps remove some of the loneliness and the negative stigma. “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.”
But Australians aren’t the only ones making the choice to stop drinking. Author Ruby Warrington (the UK-based writer who coined the ‘sober curious’ label) hosts a podcast that has seen the likes of Moby praising the virtues of sobriety, and alcohol-free bars (which may sound like an oxymoron, but provides an inclusive space where everyone can drink) popping up in the USA, the UK, and right here in Australia.