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Julie-McCrossin

Abstinence AOK

Thirty-three years ago I woke up and felt an overwhelming urge to give up the grog. And I did. It was the day before Mother’s Day in 1979 and I haven’t had a drink of alcohol since. At the same time I  gave up drugs as well. Completely.

The decision to stop drinking altogether is the single most important decision of my life. I believe it is the foundation that underpins all that is good in my life.

I know this sounds dramatic. But it feels that dramatic to me. When I drank, I couldn’t guarantee my behaviour. It wasn’t always bad, but sometimes it was very bad indeed. It was unpredictable.

Sometimes when I drank, I changed. My behaviour became aggressive and argumentative, or promiscuous. I experienced memory loss. I woke up with tattoos and I couldn’t remember how I got them.

At times, trying to remember what happened the night before was like flashing a torch around a dark room full of mysterious objects. I could catch glimpses of what was there, but I couldn’t discern the full picture.

Since I stopped drinking, I have never experienced anything like the same problems.

These days, most of the people I know have never seen me drink. And that is just the way I like it.

When I first stopped, I worried I would be rejected by my friends. Abstinence is culturally unacceptable in Australia. The worst thing in the world is to be called a wowser.

Then I decided I wanted to strive for life-affirmative wildness. Over the years, I became an actor, a stand-up comedian, a radio broadcaster and a television presenter. There are plenty of ways to take risks and experience cathartic thrills without chemical assistance.

Most importantly, my long-term partner, Melissa and the children in our lives, Luke and Amelia, know me as a stable, loving, optimistic and reliable family member.

I was 24 when I stopped drinking. I’m 57 now.

Over the years I’ve sought all sorts of help to stay off the grog and live a happy life. I’ve attended self help groups. I’ve addressed underlying issues with individual clinicians.

In my experience, it’s not common for people to talk about the advantages of abstinence for people with alcohol problems. However, controlled drinking never attracted me. Back in 1979, I yearned to escape the damage that grog was introducing into my life. Today I’m free.

Julie McCrossin

Julie McCrossin

Julie McCrossin gets people talking and she is renowned for her warmth, humour, intelligence and commitment to social justice.

After 20 years as a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, ABC TV and Network Ten, she is now a freelance journalist and facilitator. She presented the radio show Life Matters on ABC Radio National for 5 years, covering countless health, welfare and educational topics with a frequent rural focus. Julie was also a team leader on the media quiz show “Good News Week” for 5 years on Network Ten and ABC TV.

Currently Julie presents a travel program for Qantas and facilitates conferences and seminars nationally. Julie offers a range of interactive formats that stimulate audience discussion while keeping people on topic and on time. Julie is especially known for her capacity to guide forums on sensitive topics, such as suicide prevention, mental health, child protection and family law.

Julie has qualifications in the arts, education and law and she is an Ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation, CAN (Mental Health) Inc and FRANS Inc (Making Things Happen for People with Disabilities).

5 comments

  • What a refreshing look at choosing not to drink. It always astounds me that the default position for any activity or event is that people must drink. Thank you for challenging that notion.

  • Wow what a wonderful attitude to life. I know its useless but if i had given up at the same time in my life that Julie did, things would have been alot better for me and my family. Julie i admire your willingness to speak up about this problem to inspire others.

  • Julie, you are a star! Thank you for the courage to say it like it needs to be said to Australia. How on earth did it ever happen that a mind-altering, killer poison became entrenched as a pillar of Australian culture? It beggars belief! And alcohol seems to enjoy protected status within media and political circles. Have we truly lost the plot? Do we have to wait for the effects of this attitude to border on the catastrophic before we adopt a more responsible approach to alcohol. We know we can’t ban the stuff, but we can, with education and determination, stigmatise it and banish it to a position alongside tobacco.

  • I was interviewed by Julie on her program for the ABC “Life Matters”. It was stimulating and cathartic and I’ve never forgotten it.

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