Thursday, 16 January 2014 02:25

Ditching the grog - online - with Hello Sunday Morning

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The not-for-profit online Hello Sunday Morning organisation says Australia’s most dangerous drinkers are turning online in droves for help ditching their heavy drinking habits, eschewing trained sober coaches for communities of likeminded Aussies giving abstinence a go.

The founder of Hello Sunday Morning, Chris Raine says his organisation has seen more than 10,000 Australians sign up to go three months or more without alcohol.

Raine, who founded Hello Sunday Morning in 2009 “after one to many hangovers” says the singing up of 10,000 hard drinking Aussies is a move “researchers say signals a change in the way Australians tackle social problems.”

A self-described social movement, Hello Sunday Morning encourages Aussies to consider a three or 12 month break from the booze and blog about their experience to challenge drinking culture.

University of Queensland lecturer Dr Nicholas Carah said independent research showed the Hello Sunday Morning site attracted a greater number of younger and heavier drinkers than other treatment programs, including traditional in-patient rehab, with 63% of Hello Sunday Morning bloggers under 40 years old and 29% aged under 30.

Dr Carah said that according to the World Health Organisation’s Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), more than 90% of Hello Sunday Mind bloggers use alcohol dangerously and 52% are dependent on alcohol.

AUDIT also found that after completing the program, participants reduce their risk of alcohol related harm by 40% and have greater control over their drinking, becoming borderline low-risk drinkers.

“What these stats show is a shift in how Australians are tackling major social issues – instead of hiding alcoholism away, they’re creating online communities that encourage and support healthier lifestyles,” Dr Carah said.

“This is removing the stigma around alcohol abuse and making it more socially acceptable to say no to a drink for a few months in the interest of good health, saving money and achieving goals.

“Given the impact of alcohol abuse and the ripple effect of people abstaining – research shows one person can influence 10 friends – online communities like Hello Sunday Morning could reshape our drinking culture.”

Hello Sunday Morning general manager Jamie Moore is urging drinkers to re-examine their relationship with booze this Australia Day to help redefine the nation’s drinking culture. He hopes to inspire more Australians to sign up to understake a HSM in 2014.

“Alcohol should be consciously examined every now and then. This Australia Day we’re calling on Aussies to think about when they drink and consider taking a holiday from the booze sometime this year. Not forever, but for long enough that you might learn something new.

“On a three month alcohol holiday, average HSMers generally save $1200 and lose five to 15 kilos. And for every person who does an HSM, they influence 10 friends in their circle.

“Hello Sunday Morning is ultimately about changing a culture, transforming the belief systems we’ve been handed from older generations. It’s also about changing yourself and discovering who you are without alcohol.

 “Every drink we consciously don’t have is helping shape a healthier Australia where we enjoy our Sundays, instead of spending them hung-over and stuffed with regret.”

For more information visit www.hellosundaymorning.org.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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