Why I Don't Drink Alcohol Any More

The worst part about not drinking is having to tell people you don't drink.

It's difficult because drinking usually occurs at a time when it's socially acceptable to drink; situations where not drinking is a little bit strange. On a Friday night after work. Someone's leaving their job. Maybe someone's celebrating?

Why are you not drinking? Is my thing not meaningful enough? Am I not important enough to you? These questions are asked.

Or at a buck's night, where you're expected to cut loose. Or a work related function where you and a potential client are supposed to drink together and build the connections made when you buy one another beers and create those shared stories that usually occur when you're short a few brain cells.

You'll be offered a drink; someone will ask to buy you one -– a friendly gesture — an outstretched hand waiting for the handshake that never comes. This is the difficult part, because it's extremely tough to say 'no' without sounding condescending, or lying about being a designated driver or, in some small way, bruising egos.

Of course no-one gets visibly upset when you don't accept. Just a short "fair enough" and everyone moves on quickly. But a small barrier now exists. You've refused to sign a simple social contract. You are on the outside of a circle. Some take it well, and gracefully, but even then you'll be asked the question:

Why not?

"A Scotsman that doesn't drink?" is how it's usually phrased when directed at me. "That's a first."

Then the completely polite "if you don't mind me asking . . ."

And of course I don't . . .

"Why don't you drink?"

In the beginning

I have so many reasons for not drinking. Some take the form of stories; some are simple, subjective preferences on my part. Others are objective facts.

But I remember the first time I stopped drinking. I was 21. I also remember the first time I got drunk.

I was 12 years old.

I grew up in Scotland and everyone drinks. It's cold, wet and miserable — what else are you supposed to do? But, ironically, the first time I got drunk it was sunny by Scottish standards.

The sun blasted 24C and it was a long weekend. My friends and I hung out with the older kids, and approached one with hair on his back and fluff on his chin, the one with the best chance of getting served in the lax convenience store with a booze licence.

"A two litre bottle of Olde English please," we chanted in unison.

Dear God, our poor pre-teen livers. In Scotland you start early. My brother got drunk for the first time when he was 10.

I sloshed around, trying to hold down this foul cider. The longer the day went, the more rancid the drink became; losing its fizz, increasing in temperature. It wasn't long before I was barfing it back up, alongside the Weetbix and Fruit Pastilles I had eaten that morning.

So that's reason #1. I can't hold my booze. Literally. I cannot hold it inside my stomach. It simply rests there, dormant, until my body decides to lurch it out violently, a volcanic eruption of stomach acid and undigested carrots. The second time I drank I barfed all over my Mum's couch and thought it was a good idea to hoover up the vomit with a vacuum cleaner and cover up the smell with a healthy spray of Lynx Africa. That didn't work out so well.

Crippling decisions

I was 21 when I first stopped drinking. And it all started with a nipple cripple.

Actually it started in a bar, with a drink. Several in fact. I had slammed back a fair amount, as had a group of my friends, including my brother, who was 18 at the time.

Things got a bit rowdy, in a seemingly friendly way. Seemingly. As someone who is now deathly sober in such situations, I can tell you there's always a taut tension amongst those who are visibly drunk, the feeling that civility is teetering on a sharp precipice. One wrong word, one poorly timed stare, a single clumsily bumped shoulder and that delicate structure crumbles into a mess of verbals and fisticuffs

So it all began with a nipple cripple. A simple joke. My brother thought it would be funny, and it was. People were laughing. I thought it would be funny to throw the remainder of my drink over his brand new shirt in response. That wasn't quite so funny.

The slap from my brother that followed was even less funny. It was painful. And deathly serious.

Then it spiralled out of control.

It was the first and last time I ever hit my brother in the face with a closed fist. Two punches — a double jab aimed directly at his jaw. Probably the worst thing I have ever done as an adult. Definitely the thing I most regret doing. If I could take anything back, it would be those two punches.

Instantly our friends pulled us apart. A bouncer tossed my brother out the front door and I followed immediately after. My brother waited by the door. As it opened he launched into a headbutt that caught me square on the eyeball.

Then, complete chaos. We scrambled down the street, brawled in the middle of a main road and hit the deck. I kneed my brother multiple times in the back; he punched me from the ground position. Eventually we managed to wrestle each other to a drunken standstill.

We stumbled home for 15 kilometres, 100 metres apart the whole way. It took two and a half hours. Hurling abuse at one another the entire time; tragically, pathetically drunk. Dizzy from booze and beating the shit out of one another.

In the morning my Mum went mental. I decided I didn't want to drink ever again.

The love train

And then there was the time drinking made me fall in love, and made someone fall in love with me. That's reason #3. What was I thinking?

I was 23. I had been living in Japan for a year and a half, miles from Scotland, far removed from the threat of nipple cripples and headbutts. I felt more at ease with the idea of throwing back booze once in a while. No big deal. It was difficult to make friends in a strange land without lubrication, so I felt justified, and drank most weekends.

For Valentine's day I had decided to surprise my girlfriend. I bought us tickets on the bullet train to visit Kyoto – a trip we'd frequently discussed, but never followed through on.

"We're going tomorrow!" I said, excitedly. She threw her arms around me. We'd been together for two months.

That night I went out with friends. It started with some drinks, and continued with more drinks. Things got a little out of hand. Before long, I stumbled with leaden feet back to my girlfriend's apartment and collapsed onto her bed. Within seconds I was sleeping the glorious sleep of the drunk.

If I miss anything about drinking, it's that incredible moment when you finally hit the bed, the world spinning uncontrollably around you then... Nothing.

Glorious.

I woke up hours later. It was 11 o'clock. Our train was supposed to leave at 11.30. My girlfriend was sitting, still in bed. Arms folded.

"What the hell, why didn't you wake me up? We're supposed to be at the station," I said, frantic. Scrambling out of bed.

My girlfriend dead-panned. "You said we weren't going anymore."

She stared at me. Cool. Unforgiving. Holding back a torrent of rage that could burst forth at any second. I couldn't remember anything. But she couldn't forget.

Apparently, two hours before, I had woken up, wandered aimlessly around the apartment for 15 minutes and then informed my girlfriend that we weren't going to Kyoto anymore.

At this precise second I was tremendously hungover. My girlfriend was furious.

"No, no, no!" I protested. "Why would I say that? I wouldn't say that."

I must have said that. But I couldn't remember.

We made it to the station,an hour late, and jumped on the next Bullet Train headed to Kyoto. I spent most of the trip throwing up in the toilet. Because we were late and on the wrong train, my girlfriend had to buy two new tickets.

This was unknown to me at the time. I was too busy vomiting my guts out.

At one point during the trip, in between dry retching the bile from my stomach I looked up at the girl patiently waiting while I puked into a bin and I sort of fell in love with her.

Months later she told me that she couldn't understand why she hadn't just dumped me, this stupid selfish boy doing this thing that horrible people do. She was mortified and considered it her worst nightmare. The only way remaining made sense, she reasoned, was love.

So she made the rational decision to fall in love with me. As I wiped drool from my chin with one-ply toilet roll in a petrol station toilet.

The reservoir of memories

The worst part about not drinking is having to tell people you don't drink. But the best part about not drinking, without a shadow of a doubt, is not drinking.

The above stories are all good reasons not to drink, but the best reason is far simpler – I never really enjoyed it. Sometimes I drank because I was bored, other times I drank because I was in an uncomfortable situation but, for the most part, I just drank to fit in. And that may be the worst reason for doing something you don't enjoy.

I find it very easy not to drink and for that I consider myself very fortunate. The only difficult part, as I've mentioned above, is telling people I don't drink. I'm always worried that people will think I'm being judgemental, or condescending, despite the fact that – more often than not – I'm the one being judged.

But if at any time I do feel tempted, I have a reservoir of memories to ease that urge — the gurgled vomit of Weetbix, carrots and fruit pastilles; falling in love with one-ply toilet roll dangling from my chin. The punch I wish I could take back.

Drinking can be a fun thing for a great number of people — and I have absolutely no problem with that — but it will never be for me.

Pictures by Matt Cardy/Getty Images, Ben Sutherland, CxOxS, Noel Reynolds


Comments

    It's unfortunate that Alcohol is so addictive, because that make it along with Tobacco a deadly obsession for those who have trouble breaking the habit. There's no doubt that it is an excellent social lubricant, but it needs to be curbed as much as possible without actually banning it. Unlike Tobacco booze has been around since we first figured out that rotting fruit will give you a buzz,so it will be hard to completely stop it's use and we really can't ban it. What we need to do is unfortunately going to piss the pubs off because they won't make as muck money, but it needs to be done, I'm talking about closing pubs early, while people are still thinking like reasonable human being and not supermen and complete numbats.

      really should have checked my spelling on this one, no doubt the Grammar Nazi's will fix that.

        Blame the alcohol ;)

        *Nazis. ;)

          Well spotted!
          Most people would say it is "Ironic" to use an apostrophe incorrectly while typing "Grammar Nazis" in this instance. However, those of us who know how to use the word "Ironic" correctly would know that is not true.

            I know, right? I mean using an inappropriate apostrophe while talking about correct grammer is like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a wife! It's like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife. But it's not ironic. Don't ya think?

              No it's like meeting his beautiful knife.

              *grammar

            If the problem was poor grammar in the first place, what makes you think mine would be any better after admitting that I had an issue? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? silly silly man

              The egg came first. The chicken didn't evolve until millions of years later. Pedants came along only relatively recently in an evolutionary time scale, though they are often more highly evolved than others, ;-)

        Nazis not Nazi's.

        your time vill come.

      Sorry but i disagree with your comments on so many levels.
      first drinking experience at 8 yrs old, it was my first time drunk, didn't enjoy it and didn't drink again till i was 16.

      However i love going out and getting wasted these days, i spent an entire year drunk (literally, only time i was not drinking was when i was asleep), had no effect on my work or personal life other than the fact that i was apparently more fun.
      I had no adverse health effects, and now 5 years on I'm still healthy as humanly possible. (according to my doctor i have the liver of someone that's never drank in their life), Successful career and a functional relationship
      Booze doesn't need to be curbed, morons need to be curbed, why close my pub early because some people who are normally naturally violent get that way after a few? people need to take responsibility for themselves, and stop blaming "laws and society" for when you cant manage yourself.

      If drinking isn't for you that's great, some people have a better life without it, however i don't believe people should be able to decide how and when i drink.

        So you are saying, go ahead, get plastered, it's OK to drink yourself under the table. Just because you apparently had no ill effects.... You're an idiot
        Drinking is and should only be a social lubricant. This need for kids to go out and turn themselves into complete disaster areas is a major problem these days and no doubt that young bloke that was killed with a drunken punch by an inebriated tool would have gotten home safe. Close the pubs early enough to let them get home safely...!

          Actually your Dr has no way of telling that. All of the liver function tests only come up positive if you're in the early (or late) stages of liver failure.

          It's great that you didn't experience any negative effects from a year of binge drinking though. I think I'd be dead after doing that.

          Okay, this might just be the dumbest post I have ever seen on Lifehacker.

            WAHHH! That was meant to be in reply to DNR's post, not Timmahh's. Goddamnit, fingers.

        dont hate the playa just the game dood

          only the socially challenged need a lubricant, most doctors/psychologists will tell you drinking to be social is a bad idea.
          Don't drink if you cant, plain and simple.
          Call me an idiot because i don't get angry when i drink? nice try troll

        That moron who gets drunk and gets violent can kill someone who doesn't want to drink and has no beef with that drunk moron. I've been in plenty of fights, both drunk and sober, and most of them could have been avoided if not for alcohol. Some were my drunken fault, I didn't throw the first punch but didn't get they didn't like my "jokes", but others where I was coming home from work and on a tram being abused by a drunk moron who decided he didn't like my weight and was going to fight me unless I changed on the spot. I fought back, but I shouldn't have had to, I wasn't the one drinking, I had no reason when I left work to think that I should be on the lookout for a moron.
        The government does need to do something about this issue, it's not just those who drink are effected, there are innocent people who are effected.
        Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a drink, whenever acceptable (I wouldn't drink before a road trip, an exam or when a new project was due at work) but there are people who are negatively effected by my drinking, I recognise this and decide to not drink that much. Unfortunately, there are people who do not want to drink less because they are more violent, they see it is "not their problem" and think "Oh I'm fine, I'm not violent" until they are.
        You may not be violent DNR, but there are those who are and they should be disallowed from drinking too much, but we can't just choose those people since it's discrimination and there is no way to determine them until it's too late, as such, it's society's responsibility to moderate everyone. Just like speed bumps, I don't speed so I shouldn't be subjected to speed bumps. However people do speed, necessitating the speed bump. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need speed bumps or moderation laws, but this isn't a perfect world

        The only way the doctor can accurately say that is to perform a barrage of tests then slice you open and have a look at your liver.

    "Drinking can be a fun thing for a great number of people — and I have absolutely no problem with that — but it will never be for me." - I'll drink to that sentiment!

      Great article. I've been

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    I sometimes feel like being a tee-totaler, and I'm ok with that - and I don't recall anyone ever making a bit deal out of it. My wife doesn't drink alcohol (and never has).
    Alcohol in excess is not fun.

    I don't drink, I'll probably never drink and you know what. I'm totally fine with that, why can't everyone else be?

    Serrels is correct, you get looked down on for not drinking, you're less of a person, hell even less 'Australian' for not getting have a cold one. Most of my girlfriend's friends dissaproved of me because I didn't drink (not that I care what they think).

    My girlfriend, she drinks and when we order a drink at dinner it's usually a beer and a Coke or some other non-alchoholic drink. Without fail, they always bring me the beer, her the other drink. It's the norm, that the man is the drinker, he must drink.

    All of my parents, grandparents ands cousins drink with two exceptions, my Mum and my brother. I'm part Italian, I should be drunk right now shouldn't I?

    I don't have a problem with drinkers, I'm dating one, all my family and friends drink, 99% of people in Australia do. I do have a problem with people who abuse alchohol, just as anyone should, as above if you drink to much or can't handle it turns you into a person you're not.

    Being the sober person, always, I see it all the time.

    So who am I driving home then?

      +1 to the "who am I driving home then". Being the dependably sober person between the ages of 17-22 has basically made me the go-to designated dave.

        Only ever do it if you want to, you don't 'have' to drive them home. I don't trust people enough in my car anyway, they always spill something.

          I'm the kind of person that likes doing favours, but hates being expected to. However, if there is any reasonable risk of someone vomiting, they aren't allowed anywhere near the car, and certainly not inside it.

    "You’ll be offered a drink; someone will ask to buy you one -– a friendly gesture — an outstretched hand waiting for the handshake that never comes. This is the difficult part, because it’s extremely difficult to say ‘no’ without sounding condescending, or lying about being a designated driver or, in some small way, bruising egos."

    Don't say "no", say "sure, I'll have a coke" or a juice or a coffee... People get used to it pretty quick. It's just a pain buying them a round when it costs three times more ;)

      or a red bull that way they actually feel like they are paying for something and you will feel obliged to get the next round as those things are pricey!

    nice article. i can relate to it. I'm someone who has spent the last 10 years being very social, often drinking & partying til all hours. Then a few years ago something changed. I fell in love with photography & realised how expensive it was. So I decided to stop drinking so much & put that money towards this new hobby. Anyways that was years ago & nowadays I hardly drink, I'm that guy who stays for one or two after work on a friday & then escapes home before things get out off hand.

    & now i realise that people, when drunk , are idiots, therefore when drunk, i am, an idiot. & I'm much happier for that realisation.

      "& now i realise that people, when drunk , are idiots, therefore when drunk, i am, an idiot. & I’m much happier for that realisation."

      Perfectly put.

    What a well written article.

    I agree with a lot of this, and it's the same reason that I don't binge drink. I don't feel the need to completely avoid alcohol altogether, however (though that might be necessary for some people who lack self-control after one beer).

    The thing is, I enjoy a beer or a wine with dinner or while watching a movie. But social binge drinking lost it's appeal for me shortly after my teenage years.

    The benefit of being able to have one beer with dinner is that I can balance out the social benefits of accepting a beer offered as a handshake, I can enjoy it and then I can stop. But, again, this isn't for everyone. The best thing you can do is to make your own decision about how much you like to drink without basing it on the common social practice.

    Thanks for sharing Mark.

      I'mm the same. I binge eat like nobody's business, but binge drinking to me is like binge eating to a thin person. I get over it really fast. I consider this to be a good thing.

    Interesting article. I've just had a 6 month period off the booze. I did it to give my body a complete break and to facilitate training for my first half marathon. No one gave me a hard time for it. If your social circle is built on the common interest of boozing then maybe that would explain the issues people can have?

    I've resumed drinking because at heart I enjoy it. I'm an introvert and find socialising with some drinks a much more pleasant experience. Also I enjoy the drink itself - a good whisky/scotch, beer or wine is a very pleasant thing to have. Some people enjoy cheese or chocolate. For me alcohol can be savoured in the same way.

    No doubt portion control has something to do with this. A bender for me is a bottle of wine over a night. People I know can easily knock back 3-4 bottles of wine or a bottle of spirits - that would just never be something I'd do - i get too sick in the guts.

    I also have never experienced most of the issues Mark mentioned - never been in a fight while drunk, never had blackouts. If I had those issues I'd probably quit for good like Mark.

      I think in the UK and in Scotland, where I grew up, it was always a bigger deal that I didn't drink. Like I said, it's a pretty subtle reaction, but you do put yourself on the outside of a circle when you don't drink.

        I think maybe not as big as Scotland or the UK but the drinking culture in Australia is pretty strong now more so than ever. So not as big as the UK, but still big here.

          agreed. I think it's a bit like this in Australia. I nitially my friends were a bit shocked & I found myself excluded from many events, but they are slowly coming around & accepting me as a non (or very light) drinker.

            I know it's spelled differently, but your surname doesn't help matters

              haha, tell me about it.. I remember in primary school; teachers used to always have a little laugh @ my surname.. wasn't til high school that I realised; & then the drinking began..... ;)

                My recruiter for the RAAF in Perth was called Jack Daniels. Not a word of a lie.

        I really took to you, so familiar. I haven't been able to stop drinking . I'am 57 now, any suggestion.

    I rarely drink these days, and even when I do, it's only one or two. I got over that feeling of loss of control, I've made many stupid decisions while like that or said some embarrassing things (like dropping the c bomb in front of my in-laws).

    Being sober at parties, you really get a sense of how stupid people get while drinking and spotting the people that really shouldn't drink (because they get violent, depressed, etc).

    I'm 22. I don't drink, never have.

    Being an Australian teenager who doesn't drink, and who doesn't like being around drunks, is awful because you're punished for doing the right thing. All your friends seem to do at parties is drink. That's it. That, and interrogate you for the millionth time on why you don't drink.

    When somebody asks you why you don't drink, there is no correct answer to that question. You always come across as condescending, or preachy.

    It also cause a weird sort of paranoia after a while, because deep down some part of you begins to suspect that the only reason you're invited to any party is because you can be guaranteed to be sober enough to drive. You have to be confident to the point of arrogance to stand any chance of fighting off such thoughts (which thankfully I am).

      Be careful about that "doing the right thing" mentality - abstaining from drinking isn't a position of moral superiority.

        Not moral superiority, no.
        While people are free to make their own decisions and mistakes, I genuinely believe choosing to drink alcohol is the wrong decision for anyone to make.

        There is not a single alleged benefit to alcohol on an individual that cannot be better achieved through other means (means which don't compromise body or mind).

        The most common justification for the use of alcohol is as a performance enhancing drug for social situations. But if you can achieve naturally, through study, training and discipline what others take drugs to achieve, are you not better?

          There are numerous health benefits to the occasional drink, especially wine, plus the ability of it to help you relax if you are feeling naturally stressed.

          I have nothing against non drinkers - I usually have a beer every couple of days but can and do go weeks without a drink. I rarely drink more than 2 or 3, even on special occasions.

          I think that claiming Alcohol is always a bad decision is one I could say about a lot of other things - fat, salt, chocolate, dangerous sports.

            Your view is narrow-minded because you are considering it only in terms of tangible effects like health or social enhancement. I've got a friend who has a similar view - she doesn't drink because she believes it's detrimental to her health.

            The thing is, like many things we enjoy, it is something that you might find pleasurable, but comes with a negative trade off - and that's all it is. Consider the hypothetical that it is clinically proven that drinking a glass of alcohol a day would shave 2 years off the end of your life. Many people would make the choice to continue to drink alcohol and have a slightly shorter life - because drinking is something they value - and enjoying the time they have is a value. It's not something that has to be justified - we all do it. The friend of mine in question runs lots of marathons. Arguably, she is abusing her body by pushing her limits, and her body will age faster as a result. She pushes beyond the point of healthy fitness and her body suffers short term consequences (injuries) and will most likely suffer long term consequences. But it's something she enjoys and something that enriches the time she has. She knows the consequences, and she accepts them - the trade-off is worth it.

            Alcohol might not enrich your life, that's fine, all the more power to you for it. It's not something you value, so the health consequences and risks are not worth it for you. For others it might be different. It's a question I believe that everybody should ask themselves about lifestyle choices like this. Do I value this enough so that I will accept the consequences? Does it enrich my life enough so that the benefits outweigh the risks for me personally?

            You're also just plain wrong for one point by the way - you can't have the experience of being drunk without alcohol. It's as simple as that.

              (That was to Joordan, I liked your post James!)

                You can, but it's probably worse because it involves being smashed really hard in the head and killing many, many more brain cells. It hurt but it was the same feeling

              As I have said (maybe elsewhere in this article), I don't begrudge anyone making their own decisions, so long as they are informed decisions.

              However, I stand by my point that it is always the wrong decision to drink alcohol, the reasoning being that is provides no unique BENEFITS, and plenty of negatives, no matter the dosage. If you want to relax, you can meditate. If you want to be more socially confident, practice talking in front of a mirror, test jokes out on close friends, etc. If you want the health benefits of resveratrol, which alcohol actually inhibits, just eat some grapes.

              "The experience of being drunk" is not a benefit any more than "the experience of breaking a leg" or "the experience of not blinking for 10 minutes".

            Every single alleged benefit of wine can be gained from other sources that don't damage your body at the same time. Often resveratrol is cited, as a benefit of red wine. Alcohol actually inhibits your ability to take advantage of it, and you're better served just eating some grapes.

            And no, the same thing cannot be said of fat, salt or chocolate. Every cell in our body needs fat, and likewise salt is a natural part of our diet. Any negative effects chocolate has can be worked off through exercise. The same cannot be said of alcohol.

            Beyond any of this, none of them affect personality, or brain function, beyond their being a source of energy.

    I've never been a drinker because I don't like the taste, and I've never enjoyed the buzz from alcohol enough to get over not liking the taste.

    When people are (in my opinion) rude enough to ask why I don't drink, I tend to tell them I'm a mean drunk. It's sort of true - I tend to turn into a bit of a jerk - but giving the impression that I morph into some kind of violent psychopath stops them asking any more questions, and seems to compensate for some of the machismo I've lost by not joining in on the booze-fest.

      "I’ve never been a drinker because I don’t like the taste, and I’ve never enjoyed the buzz from alcohol enough to get over not liking the taste."

      This, so much. A few years ago I was hanging out with some friends who were drinking and one of them commented on how bad the stuff tasted. I asked why they were drinking it if it tasted so bad and his response was "you don't drink for the taste, you drink to get drunk." I just cannot get my mind around that.

      The other thing is that I've found I drink alcoholic drinks the same way I drink anything else - only when I'm thirsty. I just can't throw back half a dozen beers like most people seem to (I have tried once or twice).

    Totally respect your reasons for not drinking and I think a lot of people are jumping on the not-drinking train, so hopefully it will become more socially acceptable as time passes.

    However, with respect, it doesn't sound like drinking was the problem. It sounds like you drank TOO MUCH. Eating too much is bad for you. Gaming too much is bad for you. Anything, really, is bad for you if you don't know how to consume it correctly. There is a medium ground of drinking that sounds like you never really discovered before 23. But there's a wonderful pleasure in sharing a glass of wine with friends, or having a cold beer after a hot day gardening. I used to watch too much TV. I didn't solve this problem by absolutely eliminating TV from my life, just by moderating it.

    I think three good reasons to quit drinking are:

    1. It's expensive. If you want to save money, this should be the first thing to go.
    2. It's unhealthy. If you're trying to lose weight, alcohol is your worst enemy.
    3. It causes insomnia. For some reason alcohol puts me to sleep but then wakes me up with a weird sort of energy around 3-4am and I can't get back to sleep- It sucks.

    So I support giving up drinking, there are many good reasons for doing it, but your reasons for doing so sound like someone who had a bad apple once and now refuses to eat fruit.

      Yeah, I agree with this. I have no problem with people drinking at all.

      The fact is, I simply don't enjoy it. That's the overwhelming reason why I don't do it.

      Thanks for the awesome comment :)

      I'd like to add to this, drinking, even lightly and in moderation, is believed to cause long term disease in the liver and kidneys, and through them, skin and other vital organs. It is poison.

      I have no issue with people drinking, so long as they are honest and informed of the potential consequences.

        You are forgetting that alcohol is actually regularly consumed by humans unintentionally. Things like cooking spray, fruits, pasta and pizza sauces can contain amounts of alcohol.

        Consuming alcohol is also common in the animal kingdom and even beneficial to some species (ie. ants and bees), so I have a problem with your assumption that consuming alcohol is wrong.
        Its also likely that consuming fermented fruits and liquids have been common practice throughout human evolution.

        I don't drink and have never drank as I don't find it an appealing human behaviour. It is of zero-benefit, and provides no advantages over not drinking. I disagree with it (for myself), not from a moral perspective, but from a logical one.

    Woooo, BOOZE! *Starts throwing things around the room*

    In all seriousness though, while I drink, and while I will give people crap for not drinking, the majority of my friends don't drink, and that's fine by me.

    I had a 21st dinner with my old school friends, and no alcohol was drunk at that(a friend and I went out and had a single beer each afterwards, but that was it), and that wasn't a decision by me, that's just what my friends did.

    So, what I'm saying, is I'm going to keep giving you crap, Serrels.

    I really enjoyed this article. I don't drink for pretty much the same reasons that you outilined in your article (obviously I have different analogies), so you're not alone, if it's any consolation.

    I didn't used to drink at all, but alcohol's social lubricating powers are too useful for me to ignore. I rarely drink to excess - only when I feel safe, and I'm with friends I truly trust. And "excess" is a relative word - I've never drunk so much I had to throw up. I close off and fall asleep long before that stage.

    I've also found that if I'm dancing, a single drink will get me to loosen up without affecting my balance or coordination at all. Great to get into the groove of things, then water all night after that.

    I feel unwell if I have even a mouthful of alcohol, and my inability to drink has caused me more strife than having an actual drinking problem. I've developed a severe phobia of drunk people. I'm consumed by guilt for "failing" to be a "normal" 20-something Australian. I'm so worried that drinkers will judge me for not drinking that I end up judging them instead purely out of paranoid self defense. So I'm always so relieved to hear there are other people who don't drink, because sometimes it feels like I must be the only person in the world. Thank you.

    I haven't had a drink since 2008, was never much of a drinker at the best of times but all the cons outweighed the pros. I didn't like the loss of control, the missing time too. Also I found it sort of a depressant. I was not fun to be around while drunk. Final straw was when I walked home on New Years Eve and rolled both my ankles. Vowed never to drink again and I haven't since...

      Also excellent article, Mark. That almost goes without saying now. :D

      I also find it a depressant - a hangover for me, back in the days I actually drank, was one day sick and three days competely depressed. Great article and comments on this one...

    Respect your choices. I really don't like drinking. All getting drunk does is make me sleepy and mentally sluggish and messes with my balance and reflexes, and that sort of dulling of mental and motor control is not something I enjoy, and annoyingly I'm a complete lightweight so it only takes me two or three standard drinks to get there. I've not yet found a drink where the taste is compelling enough to make that payoff worthwhile, and so would prefer not to drink.

    And yet, I've very much found that not drinking is a strain on the social contract as you said. I would take a coke and still socialise, but it always remained an issue. I never understood why everybody thought it was so important we all get drunk together. It was never fun. Especially considering they all turned into idiots and started sharing stories that just made me think less of them. I've also come to suspect some of them are alcoholics, because all they talk about is their favourite booze, things they did while drunk, and when and where they will get drunk next. And somehow that makes me the socially unacceptable one. It's like most of the population is incapable of having fun unless alcohol is involved.

    These days I take one drink and nurse it for as long as possible, and it helps, but I can't get enthusiastic about booze like most of my friends and coworkers and family. I hope one day it becomes a little more socially acceptable to be a teetotaler. Thanks for sharing your reasons.

      As you say man, never really understood the appeal of getting trashed either and it does hurt the social scene.
      I have a couple of drinks these days but mostly on my own: years of being the only sober one at a social gathering has made me really dislike the company of drunk people. And hate giving people lifts :/

    I stopped drinking after the few times I did get drunk, I was extremely obnoxious.

    Good article Mark.
    From the sounds of things in your story and the comments, to many people there is no difference between drinking and getting completely smashed. I know many people like that - they can never just have "a" beer. If they drink they drink until they are hammered.
    A bit of self control can go a long way.

    I came in here expecting to see a bunch of yobbo Gizmodo commenters (you know the ones I mean) verbally kicking the crap out of the author for being a 'teetotaller' and 'telling the rest of us we can't have a good time'.

    What I found was a whole lot of really thoughtful and brilliant people giving thoughtful and brilliant responses. Thanks for making everyone's day a little nicer, guys!

      +1 too.

    I gave up drinking when I was 18. Half a bottle of Jim Beam Black Lable, straight from the bottle in 20mins, after a few bongs = 3 days of puke. It may have been the worst 3 days of my life, but I don't regret a thing! I don't miss drinking at all!

      So that begs the question...

      Do you still pull bongs?

    Good article although I've had plenty more reasons to quit and still do ;) The reactions you've mentioned are fairly common but stick to your guns and people will respect you more for it. There's also excuses to like Febfast, Dry July (and even Sober October). Last time I did one of these lasted for 3 months and it had a postive effect on some of my friends who wanted to try it :)

    Great to hear a voice against alcohol - the socially accepted drug of our time. The reality is that alcohol is a chemical poison, and the big question to ask is why do people knowingly poison themselves? This is bad enough on it's own, but it's positively devastating when you consider the social cost of alcohol through violence, car accidents and health problems.
    When you drink it is no longer the true you - it changes you chemically for the worse. When people find out that you don't drink, this is very exposing for them ie it asks them to look at their behavior and what they might be hiding from through drinking. Hence the range of responses one gets from uncomfortable acceptance through to full rejection. One day we'll look at socially accepted drinking the same way as we now look upon socially accepted smoking for relaxation in the 50's and 60's - it's not only harmful, its ridiculous.

      I didn't read it as mark being against alcohol, just that he chooses not to drink it

      Dean you ask a question and then steadfastly avoid answering it.

      Why do people drink? It's not like they enjoy hangovers, impaired senses, nausea etc. It's because people feel good when they drink (not necessarily to excess). It can make social interactions much more pleasant. Some people, like me, enjoy the flavours and mouthfeel of a good beer/wine/spirit.

    I have 1 or 2 beers after work on Friday and I don't punch people or spew the next day.

    The real problem is a lack of self discipline - not being able to drink in moderation.

      you've actually struck at the root of the point. The problem isnt alcohol in and of itself, its the human element that is unable to handle it.

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