"I do feel a sense of freedom from not drinking anymore, because it took up so much brain space," said Laura Willoughby at London's Mindful Drinking Festival, an event founded to suggest that you don't need to be paralytic to have a good time. "It's been the best decision of my life."
Check every alcohol statistic from the last couple of years and you'll see I'm not alone: lots of people seem to believe that regularly poisoning yourself for fun isn't such a good idea. In a survey by Drink Monitor, almost a fifth of respondents said they were changing their drinking behaviours, while at least two-fifths have utilised planning methods to cut down, with older drinkers sticking to old-fashioned restraint and millennials being more likely to avoid alcohol altogether.
In fact, there's been a sharp rise in teetotallers generally. According to the Office of National Statistics, there are over 2 million teetotal adults in London – 30 percent of the adult population – while nationwide it's 20.9 percent. This trend only seems to be catching on, as you'll know from the endless reports of Gen-Z (16 to 24-year-olds) supposedly swapping Stella for sobriety
A decade ago, an event like the Mindful Drinking Festival (MDF) might have been derided as some kind of puritanical love-in. But today, in this climate, in makes perfect sense. Run by Club Soda – which describes itself as a "mindful drinking movement" – the festival at Spitalfields Market this past weekend was busy with people trying the various alcohol-free drinks on offer.
Pressure to drink from friends is the number one influencing factor in drinking alcohol in the UK, a survey has revealed.
From the 1,697 men and women questioned, a startling 85% had experienced bullying from friends to consume alcohol.
The study was done by One Year No Beer (OYNB), in collaboration with Stirling University.
“I know from personal experience how difficult it is to say no when you are being badgered into have a drink. And it’s easy to cave in under peer pressure when everyone around you is having a great time getting stuck in. It’s expected of you to drink; it goes against the grain if you don’t…why is it that it’s the people we call our friends who find it hardest of any of our relationships to accept when we say no? The One Year No Beer community aims to destroy the peer pressure around going alcohol free, and empowering people to say no, whether it’s with friends on a night out or deciding to quit alcohol for a longer period.”
– RUARI FAIRBAIRNS, OYNB CO-FOUNDER
In the Calendar region, men felt 26% more peer pressure than the UK average, with family being the biggest pressure point.
The survey also found:
Tom Hardy, who receives a CBE for services to drama, made his name on the big screen with a series of hard man roles.
The 40-year-old actor is known for Inception, Mad Max: Fury Road, Bronson and The Revenant.
The privately-educated star has spoken about how he went off the rails and suffered from alcohol addiction in his youth.
Hardy checked himself into rehab in 2003 and has been clean ever since.
“I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me. But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realised I did have a problem,”