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The Irish Question: what do you mean you don’t drink?! You must be pregnant

By Karen | July 20 2012 | 90 Comments


There is no getting away from the fact that we are a nation of drinkers. According to Alcohol Action Ireland only one in five Irish adults is a non-drinker and more than 50 per cent of those who drink have a ‘harmful drinking pattern’. When you take into account those who abstain, they say, this means that those who do drink are consuming much more than the consumption statistics show.

The recent Swedish House Mafia gig and the ensuing bad behaviour by a minority brought into sharp focus again the need to open up the alcohol debate in Ireland – the minority may have caused trouble but the majority of young people at that gig were locked, something which is now just seen as normal behaviour. Reports show that young people in Ireland now have their first drink at age 14.

I’m one of the 20% who don’t drink and I’ve actually started to introduce myself by saying ‘Hello, I’m Karen-No-I’m-Not-Pregnant.’

If you’re a female and not lashing back the Bacardi Breezers then you’re obviously pregnant.  But I’m not, honest – I gave up booze for health reasons because  the hangovers just weren’t worth it.

However I’m very closely questioned whenever I meet new people about why I don’t drink and how can I possibly survive a night out without vodka.  Strangers are incredulous at the very idea and I’ve had people tell me that they don’t trust “people like me” because I don’t drink.  I’ve been dismissed as boring and not invited to events because I don’t imbibe.

True enough, I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in a pub for six hours drinking Coke. These days I prefer a social evening where there’s an activity, like say going dog racing, a pub quiz or even just a pub with some live music, so that there’s something to do other than stare into the bottom of my glass.  Perhaps that equates to me being a boring bastard, I don’t know?

I knew someone who went on the dry every year, sometimes for Lent, other times for the January detox. She used to dread these months and would actually beg friends not to have parties or get married during that time.

I think a lot of people hide behind drink and don’t feel themselves without it.  How about you?

Do you enjoy yourself more on a night out once you’ve had a few drinks? Would you go to a wedding or a ball without having a drink – or even a Saturday night with the girls?

And how do you feel about those of us who don’t like to get pissed?

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