ZB

Francesca Rudkin: There is a shift coming to drinking in NZ

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Jun 2022, 12:57pm
What appears on the surface to be a topic on the lighter side for the acclaimed journalist is in fact a mirage for his toughest lesson yet. (Photo / Supplied)
What appears on the surface to be a topic on the lighter side for the acclaimed journalist is in fact a mirage for his toughest lesson yet. (Photo / Supplied)

Francesca Rudkin: There is a shift coming to drinking in NZ

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Jun 2022, 12:57pm

Paddy Gower shared a lot more than I think he intended too last night when he set out to make a documentary on alcohol. 

In a very brave move, he’s produced a documentary called Patrick Gower: On Booze

It is filled with facts and figures about alcohol, who drinks it, how we drink it and the damages it causes, but more than that, he’s come clean about his own drinking, and the realisation he is a high-functioning alcoholic. 

I applaud him for his honesty, it wasn’t pretty at times as we watched Gower strip down to his undies in front of a body scanner to assess his body fat, or watch him attend a crate day with a bunch of 21 year olds, or crash a party at a student flat in Wellington.

In putting himself out there, he’s hoping that we in turn stop and think about our own drinking, or the drinking of a loved one, and question how we have normalised alcohol use in New Zealand. I think there will have been a variety of reactions to this documentary. 

For some this documentary is filled with a few home truths – watching it might have been confronting or even triggering.  One in five of us are hazardous drinkers like Gower – unable to see the damage alcohol does to ourselves or to those around us. Gower’s inability to moderate might have hit home, or the high functioning nature of his alcoholism.

Maybe you can relate to the feeling that everything is starting to unravel, but you haven’t necessarily hit rock bottom. Some people might have been taken back at Gower’s drinking.

As he states at one point in the documentary “Hard drinking is part of my life ... the only thing that will stop me drinking is a bad hangover”.  

Maybe there was a sense of relief watching this documentary in that you don’t drink to the same extent. But whatever your own situation, 80 percent of us drink alcohol in NZ, and Gower makes it difficult not to think about how we’re drinking. 

As the old saying goes, "it’s not what we’re drinking; it’s how we’re drinking". One thing that struck me watching this documentary is how our drinking might weigh on our own minds, but we don’t necessarily talk about it to those around us. 

I feel like there is a shift when it comes to drinking culture in NZ – a gentle shift.

We are seeing less young people drinking due to a decreasing acceptability, and I’ve noticed more people turning down a drink socially saying they’re off the booze for a bit, or not drinking so much.

However, if there is someone in your life who you are worried about, how do you strike up a conversation about their drinking without offending or judging them? Have you staged an intervention of sorts, and did it work, was it well received?

Or maybe someone sat you down for a chat, and just as Gower did when talking openly, have a moment that changes your attitude to your drinking.