Drink Tank

Australia, adults and alcohol

To me and many of my contemporaries, alcohol and Australia go together like peas and carrots. I was raised on the back lawn of a typical Aussie home, by your typical Aussie parents.

What made my family typically Australian was the common national stereotypes we collectively embraced; the ever-present sound of cricket or footy on the radio, the penetrating aromas of yet another barbie, and the cold stubbie of beer or frosty wine glass from which my parents perpetually sipped. Consequently, alcohol has now become a typical part of my life – and I’m not sure whether that is a good or a bad thing.

I struggle to think of a single event, celebration, birthday, brouhaha or the like where alcohol was not a major consideration. And, I think many people my age can relate.

Nowadays it seems almost commonplace for young adults, of all walks of life, male and female alike, to drink to the point of drowning – regardless of the risks to our health, safety and wellbeing.

Perhaps it’s time for us to consider whether our typical Aussie behaviour has become a toxic national habit?

By the age of 27, I have most certainly battled with the double-edged sword of alcoholism. Most recently I decided to sober up over the 2012 Christmas/New Year period, after a disturbing experience. Without going into detail, I was left physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted by my ordeal – an ordeal which could have been completely avoided had I not over-indulged.

I’m not saying that alcohol is the root of all evil, or that its entirely to blame for my misadventures – I am not that naive. What I am saying though is that it has become increasingly typical behaviour for young adults to obliterate themselves, and that is a frightening notion.

Nor am I saying that we should all (myself included) become tee-totalling purists. Rather, I am saying that more attention needs to be placed on understanding our reactions and limitations.

Just last year, Adelaide University O-Week was rocked by the news of the drowning of a student attendee. After such a tragedy, all uni-goers, and young adults alike, need to be especially careful to avoid future anguish.

I am not calling for a revolution. It is your own personal reflections and resolutions which matter most, and, it would seem to me that taking a moment to monitor your alcohol intake and assess your true relationship with alcohol during this O-Week period could be a good place to start.

Belinda Quick

Belinda Quick

Belinda is a second-year Masters student from the University of Adelaide, whose thesis focuses on Australian-Soviet relations in the 1940s. Aside from her studies, Belinda enjoys the arts, particularly music and theatre (and, of course, a drink or two at a show).


  • Great article Belinda I am looking at my own situation and as difficult as it might be I am trying to have the odd alcohol free day now and again………Dad XOXOXO
    PS : You don’t always need alcohol to enjoy a good time

  • I have been alcohol free for over 600 days now after 40 odd years of drinking alcohol. Before seeking help I would have been drinking 2 to three bottles of wine a day. The pressure put on me to have a drink by some relatives and friends was unbelievable. I have saved heaps, my blood pressure is down to acceptable levels and I am generally much fitter. No more hangovers which is great.

  • So, Quickie has a daughter 27 years old? That’s hard to believe cos he and I are the same vintage.

    Anyway Belinda, an interesting article and accurate observations. I too grew up in a typical Aussie home (at Minlaton) and certainly there were plenty of social occasions where alcohol was the common lubricant.

    Having said that, I never noticed the sort of binge drinking that I seem to see in the young people these days. We drank to socialize. Today’s generation seem to drink to wipe themselves out. And today’s youngsters seem to get so aggressive when they are drunk.

    I must tell you that almost all bad things that have happened to me in my life have been a direct result of someone drinking to excess. Sometimes me, sometimes my family, friends, or simply pub acquaintances. When we visit the Minlaton cemetery I always tell my darling wife “most cemeteries are full of kids who only made one mistake in their lives”. … Of course I’m referring to those who have lost their lives in car crashes or other drink induced “mis-adventures”.

    There are a lot of “down sides” to excessive drinking and the “up sides” to tee totalling or moderate social drinking are numerous.

    Converse to my earlier observaton about all the bad things happening when someone has been drunk, I can tell you, I wouldn’t be happily retired and happily remarried if I hadn’t adjusted and moderated my drinking. Now that I’m 63, I understand the role of alcohol in my life and I’m thankful that I am a moderate social drinker.

    Thank you for your article. If it helps you, or anyone to survive their “drinking years” you will have achieved a great deal.

    Good luck!

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