The second instalment of St Helens Council’s public heath team’s ‘Real Lives Initiative’ focuses on Steve*, a local man who describes the joys and benefits of enjoying life without drinking.
“I can’t remember ever making a conscious decision to stop drinking alcohol,” he said. “I wouldn’t describe myself as abstinent because I’ll have a pint or two at a wedding or a Christmas party, but the truth is that I rarely drink alcohol, even when I go out or when we all get together for a family gathering.
“I’ve accepted that in the eyes of friends and family I am now cast firmly in the role of permanent late night taxi driver, but that’s ok.
“What is more annoying than that is the social pressure and judgements that I get because I choose not to drink.
“Even people who have known me for years assume that I can’t ‘really’ be enjoying myself because I haven’t had an alcoholic drink.
“In fact, I do know how to party and have many a tale which won’t be for the grandchildren’s ears in the future, but everything changed when I got to my early 30s.
“It was no longer fun not to remember the night before, or put myself in risky situations. I had a family and wanted to be fully present for them and for myself.
“I believe that having a choice about how and why you use drink is liberating. I have loads of confidence, I take care of my weight and my health and I don’t need a drink just to be me.
“Some of my friends need to have a drink before they go out, just to get the confidence to go out and socialise in the first place.
“I do get the clichés – people thinking I may have
had a drinking problem in the past or that I’m on medication.
“The truth is I don’t need to have an excuse for not drinking – I simply choose to see and enjoy life in all its glorious olours, without the help of alcohol.
“I don’t judge my friends who drink, so I don’t think anyone should judge me for not drinking.
“I am now the dad and role model to two teenagers. Drinking alcohol is a hot topic in our house, as they are at an age where they are experimenting with boundaries.
“If I have taught them anything I hope it is the ability to have confidence and respect for themselves.
“You have a choice and you don’t need to drink alcohol to have a good time.”
n Names and certain details have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.
Are you drinking too much?
The daily recommended drinking limits are in Adult men:
No more than three to four units a day, which equates to one and a half to two pints of lower strength (four per cent) lager, beer or cider.
In Adult women: no more than two to three units a day, which equates to one large (250mls) glass of lower strength (12 per cent) wine.
In Pregnant or trying to conceive: No alcohol
For more information about alcohol units, please visit www.nhs.uk