Do You Drink More Alcohol Than Your Friends?

How to gage when your drinking habits are unhealthy

Text: Livvie B

After a busy day at work, there is nothing that I look forward to more than a chilled glass of white wine with dinner at home to unwind. You might feel the same about a beer in front of Netflix, or a sneaky cocktail as you get ready to go out on a Saturday night. But how much alcohol is too much? And are your drinking habits the same as your colleagues and peers?

I believe that asking someone about their drinking habits is akin to asking them about their religious or political views — it shouldn’t be done, and I’d much rather it wasn’t asked of me. Despite meeting up with my friends at least twice a week to catch up over a crisp glass of prosecco, I would never feel comfortable asking them to divulge how much they drink when we’re not together.

What’s more, if I were to broach the subject, would they tell the truth? Would you?

The Health Promotion Board recommends no more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day for men, and no more than one standard alcoholic drink a day for women as a general guide for healthy alcohol consumption. However, it’s common knowledge that people often underestimate or lie about how much they drink because they are worried about being judged for drinking too much, or too little.

Whilst the occasional drink is nothing to be ashamed or worried about, it is important to be able to recognise when these habits start to go too far; the key is to be mindful of how much alcohol you’re drinking as those who recognise they might have a problem have a greater chance of cutting down.

How are your drinking habits?

With non-alcoholic alternatives such as of Seedlip and Lyre’s becoming increasingly commonplace, and the Sober Curious movement gaining traction, I decided to unashamedly find out just how much my peers were indulging in each week. Here’s what I discovered about alcohol consumption in Singapore.

‘I used to be a party girl, until work got intense’

In my early twenties, I was the definition of a party girl. I was going out at least 3 – 4 times a week, and drinking way more than I care to admit (or can really remember) each time.

To be honest, my lifestyle was absolutely exhausting. I was constantly in a cycle of being either drunk or hungover, and was trying to function and achieve my professional and personal goals on a diet of hangover-friendly carbs and a lot of coffee.

When you’re younger, I think you can get away with this a little more. However, when I reached my mid-late twenties, I got promoted at work and I realised how much of my time I was wasting thanks to my champagne-fuelled lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a glass of wine over dinner, but I don’t indulge more than once or twice a week —when I ordinarily share a bottle with a friend — and I feel SO much better for it. I (rarely!) miss my old ways.

- Tammy, 29 years old

‘I drink every night’

I drink at least one glass of wine almost every night. Is that really bad to admit?! It feels quite bad now that I type it out…

My husband and I both have very intense jobs, and during the week we only really see one another for an hour or two each evening, and this is such a special time for us. We rarely drink more than a glass (sometimes two!) of red wine with dinner, but it’s truly the highlight of each day, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I feel that I should add that we both work out regularly and eat very healthy, balanced diets. We’ve also never been smokers…we’ve got to be allowed at least one vice!

- Sam, 38 years old

‘I detox to retox’

I don’t really have a set response for how much I drink in an average week, because it changes all of the time. I go through stages of about 3 – 4 weeks where I drink A LOT. By a lot, I mean at least 5 – 6 drinks at least 4 – 5 days out of the week. Then, I end up feeling so gross that I totally stop for 3 – 4 weeks. Then, I am so bored of not drinking and so desperate for a glass of prosecco, that I go crazy…and so the cycle begins again.

I know this isn’t healthy, but you only live once, right…?

- Georgia, 26 years old

‘I only drink at Christmas’

I really only drink on special occasions like Christmas, New Year, my birthday…

I have honestly never really enjoyed the taste of alcohol, or the way it makes me feel the next day, so this isn’t some crazy move for me to be healthier. I have also never been somebody who relies on alcohol to help me have fun or feel confident, which I think a lot of people do struggle with.

- Dora, 43 years old

‘I identify as Sober Curious’

In my twenties and early thirties, I would describe myself as an accidental drinker; I didn’t feel that I could say no to popping open a bottle of Champagne at a friend’s birthday party, or unwinding with a beer with my colleagues on a Friday night.

However, in the last few years, I’ve honestly been quite grateful that being ‘sober curious’ (so, not entirely sober, but just sometimes saying ‘no’) has become more mainstream. I still love the occasional glass of wine, but I also feel comfortable enough going out and not drinking alcohol, knowing that no one will comment on it.

- Sophie, 39 years old

‘I’m a lockdown liquor lover’

I’d really got my drinking in check at the start of the year — for once, I had stuck to my New Year’s resolutions of cutting back on my wine intake and actually going (not just joining!) the gym. I was really happy with myself.

But then circuit breaker happened. Again, I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I have been drinking far too much — more than I was before the ‘New Year, New Me’ as a result of the pressures this year have brought. With no office to go to or trips overseas to book, it’s been easy to justify popping open another bottle on the basis of stress …

- Kate, 30 years old

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits and would like to speak to a professional, there are many resources that you may find useful. www.wecare.org.sg is a good place to start.

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