Curated by Shanna on behalf of ''Lisbeth'' who has changed her name for the purpose of this post.
Ah, our ‘friend’ alcohol. Where to start?
I grew up in regional Victoria. My Dad was (is) a high-functioning alcoholic. Very smart. Very athletic. Not what you’d expect. I don’t speak with or see him anymore so not sure what his status is these days.
What I recall is him feeding me the dregs of his VB stubbies when I was maybe three or four years old. I had to hold the bottles with both hands. I thought it tasted disgusting but drank it anyway.
(Not sure why. I hated milk and had no problem refusing that – despite growing up around dairy cattle.)
My mum was practically a teetotaller. God (not that I believe) knows how I was even conceived!!
In my early teens I recall being part of a Melbourne Cup ‘chicken and champagne breakfast aerobics class’ at school … I was addicted to exercise big time. Anyhow. I had some champers before school and again thought it tasted disgusting but drank it anyway so as to not offend.
In my later teens I would occasionally risk the wrath of my abusive mother and ask to go out to parties, discos, and co-ed sleepovers.
I was an exceptional student and left the country in later life to attend Uni on a scholarship. So basically, I thought I deserved to be cut some slack. So when I was cut slack (from my controlling mother) I went all out – because I knew the freedom would be short lived.
Once, my Dad drove me to a party and got me some UDLs at the drive-thru. Once, I made rocket fuel from my parents’ collection of mostly unused gifted grog. Dad heard the clink of the loaded bottle in my sleeping bag but said nothing.
Funnily enough I saved like a demon and went to ‘Schoolies’ week on the Gold Coast with three of the ‘’coolest’’ girls in year 12. I remember how at the airport one of the mothers said I was the most responsible one and needed to look out for the others. So I didn’t get drunk at all at schoolies. I was too scared in case I let the girls’ parents down.
So I think now my drinking is a big act of rebellion. It’s a big “f*ck you all”. Because I can.
Because I don’t have to drink shitty stuff – I can afford Grey Goose and Hendrick’s and Espresso Martinis. Because I’ve worked hard to fight my way out of the land of VB and cask wine.
I know it’s ridiculous but that’s how it is for now.
I don’t think generally speaking that there is adequate support on the ground in a rural setting. In terms of accessing a decent shrink? Pffft, seriously – forget it …. you have to wait, and most of the time, it’s not worth the wait.
I’ve told people not to even bother going for help – because those academics in Ivory Towers have (mostly) never been there. I personally think we need to own our problems and not ‘outsource’ the help.
There seems to be an attitude of threats and demands on those of us who need to address our alcohol use.
What there needs to be is education, discussion, and understanding about the disease of alcoholism. Not judgement and stigmas.
And that’s why I was really happy to see Sober in the Country This is what we need. Real people, and real talk.
As somebody with honours in Psychology – I can tell you that a textbook will say ‘’a problem’’ with alcohol occurs when drinking interferes with social or occupational functioning. Or if booze is getting you in trouble with the authorities, like say drink driving. Or say if it’s affecting work and finances.
The big problem with these textbook definitions is that if means rock stars and high-income-earners etc., can buy and bluff their way out of trouble if there’s drug that is alcohol has taken hold.
I say drug because alcohol IS a drug. And I hate it when people say ‘’drug and alcohol abuse’’ because it’s a drug whether it’s alcohol, or meth, or whatever.
It seems very obvious that the rural drinking culture is generally speaking an unhealthy one.
We seem to drink out of boredom and lack of choice. And typically it isn’t balanced with good healthy choices. The lack of public transport and entertainment also means that drink driving is pretty much stock-standard.
There are so many issues specific to rural areas.