There is no doubt that Australian social life revolves heavily around alcohol. Most formal functions will either provide alcohol or encourage the consumption of it. Additionally, you will find that Australians tend to congregate socially around alcohol and will often have informal work get together to celebrate achievements or just blow off some steam.

Alcohol is deeply embedded in the Australian drinking culture and has been since early colonial days. There is, however, some evidence to suggest that Australian attitudes towards drinking are becoming more responsible with surveys showing that more Australians now are aware of setting drinking limits and younger Australians drinking less than their predecessors.

While the culture substantially revolves around drinking and there will be plenty of people willing to offer you a drink, the culture has now shifted sufficiently for people to accept that you don’t want to drink and not be offended. This may also be a result of Australians becoming more culturally aware of countries that don’t tend to socialise using alcohol.

So whilst attitudes are certainly shifting, there is still an element of expectation especially in some work places to join the team for a drink after work. If drinking socially isn’t really your thing for whatever reason and you are looking to keep it under control on your work nights out, here are some common reasons given for not accepting a drink.

  • “I’ve already reached my limit for tonight.” Given the change in attitudes, most people now will understand and appreciate the need to set limits and they will actually appreciate your discipline and responsible attitude.
  • “I’m the designated driver.” With strict blood alcohol restrictions placed on drivers in all states, it is common for one person to opt not to drink and be the “taxi service” for friends and colleagues.
  • “I’ve got an early start tomorrow.” Anyone who’s had a few too many and suffered the consequences in the morning will appreciate the wisdom of ensuring a clear head if you have to get up early.
  • “I’ve only just finished one” is a polite way to refuse a drink, as most people will appreciate the need to have some time between drinks.

If you do elect to drink alcohol while you are out, some good strategies to follow are:

  • Know what your drinking limit is and be sure to stick to it. The recommended number of standard drinks for men and women is two drinks per day.
  • Don’t consume drinks quickly – this way you can more accurately judge the effect that the alcohol is having upon you.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking water between alcoholic drinks.
  • Eat between drinks to slow the rate that alcohol is absorbed into your system.

If you choose not to drink, some alternatives include bottled water, a variety of soft drinks and zero alcohol content beer. Other interesting alternatives include:

  • Non alcoholic-Ginger beer – a great refreshing taste that many find to be a better alternative to the sweet sugary soft drinks available.  Just be sure to check that the ginger beer is non-alcoholic as there are alcoholic versions available.
  • Lemon lime and bitters has a very low alcohol content and is pretty popular with Australian drinkers.

There has also seems to be a growing demand in Australia for non-alcoholic beer. Notable brands to recently release a 0% alcohol version of their beer include Carlton, Heineken, and Coopers. Non-alcoholic beer can be a great way to manage your alcohol intake during various social events and work functions.

If you are going to be socialising in Australia you can expect that alcohol will be consumed in most social settings. It is important to remember that most Australians won’t mind one way or the other if you choose to drink alcohol or not. However, if you do choose to drink always drink responsibly.

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