Formatting fail!!! I'll fix it later ]/i] I wanted to start a discussion on alcohol and its effects, on each of us personally and on the societies we each live in. Due to an inherited allergy to alcohol, combined with medication that meant cutting out alcohol entirely, I've been totally 100% alcohol free since I was about 21. Prior to then, I was a normal Aussie. And that means, we start while underage, and usually only drink alcohol to get totally smashed. Aussies under say 40 dont' seem capable of enjoying a glass or two of wine with dinner. If they're out, and they're drinking, it's gonna get messy. My mates and I, supplied by older siblings, started at around age 15 (legal age is 18) drinking straight spirits from the bottle. Wow, what a feeling, so funny, so enjoyable, so hilarious watching us all stagger about and act like idiots. In some ways I really do miss that stupid-fun element of drinking. But as much as I would drink like the next guy, I never enjoyed the taste of alcohol. No matter what it was - beer, wine, spirits, mixers, liquers - the taste of the alcohol itself would lways ruin the nice chocolatey taste, or the nice fruity or whatever taste. I found myself wishing I was drinking a choc-milk rather than a Baileys, or a Coke instead of a scotch and Coke. But like a good Aussie, I just kept drinking anyway. So when I had to stop for a whole year due to medication, my body detoxed completely. My friends loved it as they always had a designated driver And I felt good knowing my mates and I would get home safely. My inherited allergy seems to have amplified in this time, so when I came off the meds and immediately tried to get back into drinking, the allergic reaction just made it not fun any more. So I stopped, cold turkey, and have never had another drink. Can't say I want to either. In AUstralia, if you say you don't drink, people just don't get it. It is a truly baffling statement. Common responses I've received when offered a drink and I say "No thanks" include: - "Are you driving?" - if I was offered a beer, they'll ask "Oh, do you want a scotch or something?" - *blank quizzical look of incomprehension, as if I'd just spoken a foreign language* - "what the ****'s wrong with you?" - and my all time favourite - "are you gay or something?" This article sums up what it's like to stop drinking, especially in a booze-soaked place like Australia: In Australia, drinking is automatically assumed. Our society is built around it. Every social occasion has alcohol. Every weekend without fail, our police stations, hospitals and morgues fill up as a result of alcohol. Alcohol addicition ruins lives and families. And if non-medical alcohol as a drinkable consumer substance was discovered today, it would probably be illegal. In the 10+ years since I've stopped drinking, I've saved thousands of dollars that I've been able to put into other avenues of having fun. I don't have to spend half my precious weekends lying in bed recovering. I've also found out after the fact that I was not invited to gatherings with friends at a pub for example, assumedly because I could not possibly enjoy the company of my mates whilst only drinking water or Coke. For anyone interested, this is the alcohol-free blogging site refered to in the article: http://hellosundaymorning.com.au I'd love to hear about how your country's views drinking and drunkenness. How it's affected you personally, how you've seen it affect those around you.