Christmas cheer without the beer
With so many Yuletide events taking place in pubs and restaurants, it’s not an easy time to stay sober
Annmarie Brophy: She doesn’t particularly enjoy the feeling of being intoxicated and is happier to enjoy the occasion without it. Photograph: Alan Betson
Anna Young, outside her Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
The party season is in full swing and we are constantly being reminded of the need to put on our dancing shoes and enjoy the festive fun.
The season to be jolly usually involves a glass or two of bubbly or a wee dram of “something special” for the more sedate revellers – with everyone feeling guilty about the designated drivers who will undoubtedly be feeling left out of all the merriment.
But there is an increasing number of people around the country who have realised that they can have just as much fun without touching a drop of alcohol and have made the conscious decision to cultivate a social circle far removed from booze-fuelled nights followed by unwelcome hangovers.
Annmarie Brophy, from Dundrum, is a 40-year-old mother of two. A practising psychotherapist, she drinks alcohol occasionally but more often than not finds herself sticking to the soft drinks.
“I drink alcohol very infrequently, as I don’t need it to enjoy myself,” she says. “I hold a balanced and non-judgmental view towards it and have absolutely no issue with people drinking but personally I just don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of being intoxicated and am happier to enjoy the occasion without it.
“While I have a quiet and shy personality, I have developed my self-confidence over time and am more content and accepting of myself just the way I am, so don’t need alcohol to release inhibitions or give me courage to engage with people.”
Pressure to drink alcohol
The married mother of two says there was a time when socialising without alcohol was relatively unheard of in Ireland, but this has all changed and nowadays there are a lot of like-minded people who are more than happy to stick to soft drinks.
“Up until quite recently the only option available for socialising at night time was a pub or nightclub,” she says. “There were very few choices available and I believe this put enormous pressure on young adults to drink in excess.
“But the social scene without alcohol is absolutely not to be feared. I regularly attend events on my own and always feel included and welcomed.
“At first I was anxious and shy but quickly discovered that there is often an unspoken underlying ethos of inclusivity. I regularly meet really interesting and genuine people and the experience is richer and at a deeper level when alcohol is not involved, as I feel the freedom to be myself and have great fun. “
Although she feels relaxed in venues without alcohol, Brophy says Christmas can be more difficult.