ABC Your Move: Rethinking your relationship with alcohol? Catch up on our expert Q&A
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Looking to quit or reduce your drinking?
National medical reporter Sophie Scott, Hello Sunday Morning's Dominique Robert-Hendren and ABC weather presenter Nate Byrne shared some tips and tricks to help manage your relationship with alcohol.
Catch up on the Q&A below.
By Jessica Riga
Thank you for joining our expert Q&A on alcohol today, and for everyone who sent in a question.

And a huge thank you to Hello Sunday Morning's Dominique Robert-Hendren, the ABC's national medical reporter Sophie Scott and News Breakfast weather present Nate Byrne for their insights.
We couldn't get to every single submission, but we hope you gained some helpful advice from this Q&A.
That's a wrap on the four sessions we ran as part of the ABC's Your Move project, but you can catch up on previous Q&As from earlier in the week below:
Finally, make sure you complete the ABC Your Move Health Quiz if you haven't already using the link below. Bye for now!
By Jessica Riga
I drink a lot, never before or knock off even on weekends. I never wake up with a hang over and can successfully stop for a month if I want to (this feb for example). I didn’t feel any different at the end of the month. I find it difficult to get intoxicated. But I drink about 6 standard drinks per night and really feel like I need it to switch off. I know I drink too much but it never really effects me (except for weight). What is your views?
– Mark
Hi Mark, thanks for writing in. I've passed this question along to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning. Here's what she said:
Alcohol affects everybody differently. It sounds like you have good insights about the effects of alcohol.
People who drink large amounts of alcohol regularly can become tolerant of signs of intoxication. As the body ages however, the impact of unhealthy habits can take their toll and start to emerge in more obvious ways. 
By Jessica Riga
If you take our ABC Health Check quiz, you'll be greeted by our weather presenter Nate Byrne!
Here's some insight into his relationship with alcohol.
"I drink around four or more times a week, but I definitely blow out sometimes," he says, adding once or twice a month.
"It's not common and it's not every week. I'm not going out and getting absolutely hammered every weekend.
"I mostly have a drink in the evening after work. Well not straight after as it's still morning!
"I try to pay attention to how many standard drinks I’ve had. I worked in a bar for a long time, so I’ve got a good sense of what 30ml is."
By Jessica Riga
I know that I have a problem with alcohol, currently getting counselling for it and also taking Naltrexone and Chlorfen 10, I still can't seem to break the habit or even reduce the volume… what else can I do?
– Paul
Hi Paul, thanks for writing in. I've put this question to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning.
Hi Paul, so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with alcohol.
As you would know the road to recovery can be long and bumpy. Good to hear you are getting support with a counsellor.
There are many reasons why people find quitting alcohol difficult and working through that with a strong supportive network is really important.
For example, some people use alcohol to help them cope with social anxiety, or to numb their pain from unpleasant emotions and experiences. They use alcohol to help them get through or avoid difficult situations and what might be more helpful is to learn and develop healthy coping strategies to navigate life's challenges.
Speak to your counsellor or GP about helping you with developing your own behavioural change sober toolbox.
Please keep going as each time you try, you are getting closer to living your sober life. All the very best to you.
By Jessica Riga
I quit drinking two years ago, after 26 years of drinking throughout teenage years to beginning of covid. My life has fundamentally changed for the better. I wake up earlier and fresher, do morning exercise, eat healthier, less sugar/junk, moods are more even, stabilised, less aggressive/depressed, sleep earlier and deeper, full night rest. Feel amazing – highly recommended. – Rachael
I put myself on the banned drinkers register in the NT. Worked a treat. I can't buy any take away alcohol. After a medicated withdrawal at home I have gone from a approximately 12 bottles of red a week to just one or two. Wasn't easy at first but it seems like normality now. It's been three months. – Dean
It is about choosing the foods and dishes I eat. As someone who grew up in an environment embracing the Mediterranean and French lifestyles, drinking wine with my evening meal is one of those habits that I never gave much thought to. Whilst working in remote communities where alcohol is banned, I found out that it did not bother me, it was never a “thing”. Now, in semi- retirement, I picked up the lifestyle of nice food and wine again, but with the increasing concerns and mounting evidence of longterm damage to my health, I decided to have one or two wine-free days a week. How hard that is! My strategy to achieve it, is to choose meals and dishes that don’t pair well with wine, such as most spiced and asian foods. Also, a great sandwich and a salad for dinner with a nice juice or smoothie are great alternatives for me. – Margaretha 
By Jessica Riga
Have you taken our ABC Health Check quiz yet?
We've built this health quiz so you can see whether just one thing could change your life for the better!
Check it out using the link below.
By Jessica Riga
I gave up alcohol several years ago and it is one of the best things I’ve done. I lost weight, improved my sleep, reduced my anxiety and improved my relationship with myself and others. Experts agree that there is no safe level of drinking so why do our offical health guidelines still suggest a few drinks a day are ok? Is it the tax revenue that government does not want to give up? The benefits of an alcohol free life are not discussed enough by experts and the media.
– Sam
Hi Sam, thanks for writing in. I've put your question to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning.
Hi Sam, congratulations on living an alcohol-free life!
Unfortunately, recovery from alcohol use is a very challenging journey for many people and there's still so much stigma associated with seeking help.
Approximately 70% of people who try to quit drinking will relapse at first, but we also know if they keep trying, they will be able to maintain sobriety.
Alcohol is so ingrained in the Australian culture and there is still much work to be done there. Meanwhile, providing guidelines for those who choose to drink is still important, as moderating alcohol consumption has many health benefits such as lowering risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Hearing the benefits of an alcohol-free life is very powerful when it is communicated by a person with lived experience. Thank you for sharing your experience.
By Jessica Riga
Mocktails get a bad wrap — for good reason.

If you order a mocktail at your average pub, you might get something sickly sweet — and expensive too.
But it's possible to create something "a little bit more sophisticated," says Nat Battaglia, who runs a site dedicated to mocktail recipes.
At the link below, ABC Everyday has a bunch of ideas for mocktails that are low on sugar too.
By Jessica Riga
In 2020, Shaun Micallef went on a personal journey around the nation to discover the new face of alcohol in Australia in his ABC series On the Sauce.
He also wrote about his experience for ABC Everyday. Below is an excerpt from his full article, which you can continue reading here.
A few years ago, when my three boys were approaching drinking age, I started to think about what advice I might give them.
Not being a drinker myself, I found there wasn't much I could say.
"If I were you, I wouldn't drink at all" is probably the most useless counsel you could offer any young person when it comes to alcohol.
I don't believe alcohol is at all necessary to have a rich and fulfilling life — but then again, I think that about sport, butter and commercial television.
Throughout our lives, alcohol seems to have its claws in almost everything: birthdays, funerals, sporting events, picnics, barbecues, intervals at the theatre, music festivals, eating, romance, rejection, launching ships, opening bridges, winning, losing, watching someone win or lose, seeing a movie, going to the beach, anniversaries, happiness, sadness, late nights, toasting good health, causing bad health, surprise parties, reward, religion and even, or perhaps especially, when there's nothing else to do and you're a bit bored.
In Australia, it's very much a part of our national identity. Not drinking in this country often requires some sort of excuse; drinking doesn't.
You can check out some clips from On The Sauce on the ABC iview YouTube channel. Personally, I loved when he joined a boozy book club.
By Jessica Riga
I just found out that I was born with only one kidney, I'm in my mid 20's and am wondering if I should let this impact my relationship with alcohol. I would like to be drinking less, but do I need to cold turkey grog to keep my remaining kidney going for the next 60+ years?
– Lopsided
Hi there, here's what national medical reporter Sophie Scott says:
Drinking alcohol affects many parts of your body, including your kidneys.
Given you only have one kidney, you should chat to your GP about what a safe level of drinking is for you.
By Jessica Riga
I have tried giving up alcohol a few times with limited success- what are your thoughts on medication? In particular Naltrexone?
– Ella
Hi Ella, thanks for your message. Here's what our national medical reporter Sophie Scott says:
A good GP is your best bet for medication advice for quitting alcohol.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, naltrexone can be prescribed to people with alcohol dependence and can reduce the craving for alcohol and reduce the 'reward' effects of alcohol use.
Naltrexone may not work for everyone, so it’s important to consult a doctor or alcohol and other drug (AOD) counsellor to find the best approach.
By Jessica Riga
How long after quitting drinking does it take for the brain to stop seeking alcohol for a dopamine hit?
– Daily drinker
Hi there, thanks for writing in. Here's what Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning suggests:
How long it takes depends on many factors, but research indicates that it can take approximately 90 days for the brain's dopamine to return to healthy, normal production.
However, in some cases, it can certainly extend beyond that period.
By Jessica Riga
I'd be interested to know what the panel's go-to order is when they're out at a bar or event when they don't want to drink but want something more exciting than water or soft drink
– Bailey
Hi Bailey, thanks for writing in.
Our national medical reporter Sophie Scott says:
A good bartender should be able to make you a non-alcoholic cocktail like a virgin mojito with mint, lime, soda water and an alcohol-free white spirit. These look and taste great.
ABC Everyday even have a little tutorial in the link below.
By Jessica Riga
Sometimes I feel pressured to drink with friends, what are some strategies to help me say no without being rude?
– Monica
Hi Monica, thanks for writing in.
I've put your question to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning. Here's what she recommends:
It can be very challenging to say no to alcohol around friends who drink.
Have some sober responses ready for saying ‘NO’ to drinking. For example:
By Jessica Riga
How do I know if I have a problem with alcohol?
– John
Hi John, thanks for writing in.
I've put your question to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning.
Some signs to look out for that might suggest a problem with drinking are wanting to start drinking earlier in the day, hiding the amount of drinking around others, getting agitated if you are held up with chores and you can't reach for a drink, spending a lot of time thinking about your next drink, spending a lot of time recovering from a drinking session and feeling strong urges and cravings.
It's important to always speak with your GP upfront.
Standard guidelines recommend no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
By Jessica Riga
I'm someone who enjoys a drink occasionally but often I'd rather avoid alcohol. But I feel so pressured to drink by others – so many people seem to need someone to drink with them or they get annoyed or disappointed like you are raining on their parade! How can we avoid conflict with friends and family but still not feel pressured to drink?
– Under Pressure
Hi there, thanks for writing in. It's disappointing to hear your friends and family aren't as supportive as they could be.
I've put your question to the ABC's national medical reporter Sophie Scott, who stopped drinking after doctors told her she had to give it up.
Great question! I would recognise everyone has their own relationship with alcohol and that some people might feel a little threatened by your choice of being sober. But it’s your choice and you don’t need to make excuses for not drinking.
I find having non-alcoholic options helps and that after a while, most people won’t know if you are holding a glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbles.
Luckily there are a lot of great alcohol-free options on the market now.
By Jessica Riga
I have a friend who recently identified they were a problem drinker and are trying to go sober. Any advice for how I can support them?
– Luke
Hi Luke, thanks for writing in. It's great you want to support them.
Here's what Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning recommends.
It's great that your friend opened up about their drinking. Provide encouraging messages in your conversations and ask your friend how you can best support them. Just having a trusted friend that they can lean on can make a big difference.
Other suggestions include not drinking alcohol around your friend, organising activities that doesn't involve drinking and just being there when they need someone to chat with.
I would also encourage them to have a chat with their GP.
By Jessica Riga
Most Australian adults will have at least an occasional drink and about half of us are regular drinkers.
But it's easy to underestimate the health impacts, and experts believe there is too much risky drinking.
You can read the full article from ABC Everyday below.
By Jessica Riga
I noticed recently that by replacing the glass of wine after work with an expensive mocktail from the supermarket, in a nice wine glass, it wasn't the alcohol I was after, but the ritual of ending the day with something. It was a pleasant change to feel clear-headed going in to dinner. I am actually quite surprised by my own feelings about this. – Jody
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Jody. I think a lot of us can relate to this ritual.
When I entered my 30s a couple of years ago I noticed my tolerance to alcohol took a nosedive, however simply sticking to soft drinks makes you a bit of a social outlier. Trying to find a happy medium which involves the rise of brands with 0% options. – Matthew
Hi Matthew, thanks for sharing your experience with us. You're completely right, the non-alcoholic drink industry is absolutely booming right now thanks to so many of us choosing to cut back or quit booze altogether.
You can read more in this article below.
By Jessica Riga
Are there any good apps to track sobriety?
– Jessica
Hi Jessica (great name), I've put your question to Dominique Robert-Hendren from Hello Sunday Morning.
It's a great idea to track your sobriety journey.
One app worth checking out is DrinkControl. This app motivates you to stay on track and make positive changes. It also provides you with a summary of your progress and you can share it with others too.
Sober – Counter of dry days is also a good app to track your sober days. It takes you through what happens when you stop drinking and what to expect at different points.
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