Australians feel stigmatised for not drinking

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th September 2016

A University of Adelaide study has found Australians trying to cut back their alcohol intake often feel stigmatised for “violating expectations” around drinking in their social circles.

Published this week in the Drug and Alcohol Review journal, the research conducted by PhD student, Ashlea Bartram, also found those trying to reduce alcohol intake routinely make excuses to remove themselves from drinking situations.

“In interviews with participants, it became quite clear there is a stigma attached to people cutting back on alcohol or stopping it altogether,” Bartram said.

“It’s as though some kind of social code has been violated by the person who has chosen, for whatever reason, to stop drinking,” she stated.

Due to the stigma, Bartram says non-drinkers often become skilful at masking the fact they are not drinking or they provide excuses like being unwell or having to drive. Those who use lies say they often feel uncomfortable not telling the truth to their family and friends.

“As a result, people who want to cut back on alcohol often find themselves making excuses not to attend social gatherings. They will also seek to make other arrangements so that social gatherings are not focused on activities normally associated with alcohol consumption,” Bartram said.

Some positives

“Those who found new ways to spend time with their peers that weren’t focused on alcohol often find it’s the best approach. Some have received strong support from their loved ones, and others have reported improved quality of social interactions – such as meaningful conversations – when alcohol is taken out of the equation,” Bartram said.

Further research will be conducted on the subject matter with the end aim of developing strategies to better support those trying to change their drinking habits.

Ms Bartram is now looking for Australian men to discuss their experiences of a close friend or family member stopping or cutting back their drinking. All personal information will be kept confidential and those interested can contact or phone 08 8313 6880.