This past month I have participated in Dry July, an Australian and New Zealand initiative where individuals and teams accept sponsors and give up alcohol for the month of July, with the funds raised going to hospitals and cancer services in both countries.

As Community Manager of Social Code’s DrinkSmart app, I had been suggesting the challenge of Dry July to some of our app users, and decided I should practise what I preach by signing up too. Particularly in winter, I don’t drink much anyway so I figured going a month without would be sacrificing only a couple of occasions of having no more than a single beer. As the month comes to an end I can say that was perhaps a modest estimate, as while being so conscious of saying “no thanks, I’m doing Dry July” I was surprised by the number of times I was turning down the offer of a drink. A meal out, a family dinner, a meet up, a work social event… those potential drinking situations really start to add up.

There were occasions where I did look longingly at a the drinks table but other times I felt relieved to have Dry July up my sleeve as an acceptable excuse to turn down a drink. (The temptation was too great on day two of an out-of-town conference, but in my defence – I had a single pilsner then stopped, and I donated to compensate. One beer in an otherwise-Dry July is okay by me.)

I am looking forward to having a Friday drink after work tomorrow, but I’m also looking forward to turning down drinks in situations where I don’t especially want one without using any ‘excuses’ – I’m very interested to see what reactions I get.

If you are thinking about your own drinking habits, check out the community on our free DrinkSmart app, where you can set yourself a challenge to drink or spend less and track your progress. I would love to learn any suggestions you have for others wanting to cut down!