Don’t worry darling, you did n’t burn the beer!

This chauvinistic ad  “Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer” would be banned instantly to -day if it appeared. It would not be acceptable.  So we’ve come a long way. Or have we? Just recently we had the withdrawal of the awful  misogynistic Coca Cola, Sprite campaign, which had ads like

“She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo”

We now live in a culture which  on the surface treats women better, but we still have a long way to go as the recent Ghostbusters film storm shows.


Not all anti women messages are so blatant

The big outcry to the remake of Ghostbusters appears to be driven by an all-female cast. We’ve had many remakes of films, none of which attracted such negative publicity. One of the female leads closed her Twitter account, the abuse got so bad.  Dr Ciara Kelly covers this well here.  Ignore the negative reviews. If you like action films, go see it. It’s funny. I enjoyed it. If you saw the original, you’ll enjoy spotting the hints back to the old version.


What if famous movies were feminist?

Thanks to Deshocks in Cork who passed on this great video about

“What if famous movies were feminist?”

It  got me thinking. Because I’ve enjoyed some of these movies but until I saw the video it really had n’t sunk in just how “anti women being strong” these messages were. I really saw them in a new light. Some examples from the video

You’ve got mail

Instead of committing to a relationship our heroine says

“F*** no. You ran my business into the ground and lied to me for weeks”


The hero confesses to entering through the window and watching the heroine as she sleeps. Instead of being attracted to him she accuses him of being a stalker and a 100 year old  paedophile.


One of my favourites. In the classic song “tell me more” one of the lads asks

“Did she put up a fight?”

Immediately, the lads give out to him and tell him “That’s rape, we can’t be friends, you have to leave”


The Notebook

The hero is hanging from the roller coaster asking the heroine to go out with him. Instead of saying yes, our heroine replies

“No, I don’t go out with guys, who threaten suicide to get a girl to go out with them”

It’s worth watching the video here.


Surrounded by messages which condition how we think

The video really shows how these films support a storyline that women will do anything for romantic love.  All these films were successful. I watched and enjoyed them not really seeing the underlying message. I did n’t understand how toxic these messages were. Certainly not the way I want my daughters to think. That real, romantic love means a guy can treat you badly and you still love him.


We get similar toxic messages about alcohol

In the films we see, we get the same toxic and totally  misleading messages about alcohol. Just some examples.


Knocked Up

After a drunken one night stand the heroine gets pregnant. After much misunderstanding, she ends up in a loving committed relationship with the Father of her child.

In real life.

The heroine would either go to England to get an abortion or end up raising the baby on her own. She’s treated for an STI (sexually transmitted infection)


Independence Day

One of the hero’s, who drinks beer and whiskey non-stop, switches from a  simple crop duster plane to a military jet and  allows other heroes to enter  and destroy the alien space ship.

In real life.

If our hero just stopped drinking, he probably would have died a painful death without days of supervised medical detox.


All the James Bond Movies

James Bond is glamorous because he  asks for

“A medium dry martini, lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred.”

and always gets the girl.

In real life.

Bond would have been killed because his reactions would be slower. No romantic relationships for him!


Product placement in movies

The alcohol industry pays to have their products placed in movies. Budweiser beer is the champion with the most appearances. Despite codes of practise to regulate how alcohol is advertised, children’s movies have alcohol placements. So we’ve moved from ads which were sexist but blatant about what they were advertising to more subtle types of messages which we may not spot.  See  article  here


These movies are escapist, just fun

Okay, these movies are escapist, not meant to represent real life. However they support a culture where problem drinking is not a problem. The toxic message they send is, you can drink as much as you like and escape the consequences. Alcohol is not harmful. It won’t make you unhappy. But even in the workplaces which create these misleading messages, drink is banned.


Movies sets are drink free

When making these movies, most directors insist on an alcohol drink free workplace. Too difficult to film with actors getting drunk if too many re-takes needed. So they use substitutes-strong tea steps in for whiskey, or flat ginger beer for beer.


Alcohol industry now targeting women

As reported by Laura Slattery, the alcohol industry is now actively targeting women. So we  no longer get the  sexist ads as  in  our headline picture, but our livers will pay the price. Equality means we can now have the same alcohol health problems as men.


Be aware of the misleading messages about drink

So whether you drink beer or something stronger, be aware of all the misleading messages you’re getting about drink. That there is no downside to drinking too much. That drinking is glamorous and risk free.


Change your thinking about drinking

If you’re thinking about stopping or reducing alcohol, change your thinking about drinking. Don’t see yourself giving up something you enjoy and will miss. You’ll just feel more miserable.

See yourself as a bright intelligent women. Some one who is rising above a toxic culture which encourages you to harm yourself in the interests of making profits for big business.


Are you a savvy social drinker?

Finally, if you drink, do our quiz and  find out if you are a savvy social drinker here.





You can avoid the Euro hangover

Reading the papers last  weekend the European football championships appears to be about drinking. Very little about avoiding the inevitable euro hangover, be it watching too much football,  drinking too much, or  being miserable if Ireland  get hammered (That 6-1 defeat to Germany still hurts)


Women  like  football too

And yes women play, watch and attend football too- it’s not just the men. Anyone remember Stephanie Roche’s wonder goal? The photo above shows Stephanie walking up to receive her 2nd place prize for the goal of the year-watched admiringly by Ronaldo and Messi . You can see her wonder goal watched by over one million people  here.  Stephanie currently plays for the Sunderland ladies team in England.


Is there too much focus on alcohol in football?

Yes, is the answer. Some quotes from just one newspaper edition.

Because most of us who will be there probably won’t be able to remember much about it at all”

“Being among the Irish crowd confirms that football is the best excuse for the true national sport of drinking”

“So why should the manager of the Irish football team be expected to tell his players they can’t have a drink?”

“However drunk you get, Irish fans don’t go there”

“France is the last chance for this drinking generation to mass on a foreign field and create fresh memories”

Maybe some of these quotes are ironic, tongue in cheek, but we are surrounded by messages that tell us drinking is part of our DNA and it’s ok to be drunk. Not only that, but people who don’t drink are seen as boring.


“People say I have a very boring life, but I don’t think I have”

This quote is from Jim Ryan, a retired Garda from Cork who first started travelling to  sports events in 1976 and has travelled to Cyprus, Nigeria, Bulgaria attending three Olympics, hockey world cups, grand nationals and much more. He does n’t drink, smoke or gamble, spending the  money saved on travelling.

Because of this people say he has a boring life. A guy who has travelled all over the world following sports championships, making new friends, visiting exotic places. Experiencing life, not just  not sitting on a bar stool in a pub!  Yet he’s seen as the boring guy.

In the same newspaper (Irish Times) 6 famous fans told their memories of past football championships and none of them mentioned drinking.  So why are the media so strong on drinking as part of football?


Alcohol industry big sponsors

Of course, the alcohol industry encourage this focus on drinking as exciting and alluring.  They provide lots of revenue for the media in advertising. Carlsberg are sponsors of the Euro championship itself, with Heineken sponsors of the FAI.  Sales of alcohol will soar during the championships. In one survey, people estimated they will spend €185 on alcohol during the tournament. Carling are very clear on their marketing aims

“To own sociability is to dominate the booze market”

So the Euro’s are a big target for alcohol companies as people get together to watch the football games and socialise. They have succeeded in making us believe that getting together  for a football event means we have to drink and have the nearly inevitable  Euro hangover.


The dark side of drinking

Little attention is paid to the dark side of drinking. Due to previous alcohol fuelled violence, French police have banned public drinking for the 24 hours around each football match in Lens.   In Ireland, 30 per cent of emergency room visits are alcohol-related – and every month 88 Irish people die from drinking. This compares to 14 people a month from road traffic accidents. But the media coverage  does not show this dark side of alcohol abuse.


Avoid the Euro hangover

So make sure you’re not one of these statistics.  If you’re  drinking, plan your drinking so you don’t end up with a Euro hangover. Despite what the media and alcohol companies say it  is  possible to enjoy the championships without drinking at all  like Jim Ryan or drinking  too much. We have plenty of free practical tips you can check out  here.

Finally best of luck to the Irish team and here’s hoping we all get a lift from their performances.


If you’d like to know more on how the alcohol industry influences us, check out this post here.

I gave myself a hangover headache

My friends had organised a night out to celebrate my birthday.  I wanted to have a few beers in the new restaurant we were going to. So when  we went to a cocktail place first  I had a really nice non-alcoholic cocktail. My friends know I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and can’t mix drinks so this was n’t a problem. They know I get bad hangover headaches even when I don’t drink too much.


My hangover headache lasts a week

We got to the restaurant which we were visiting for the first time. Great atmosphere, just one problem. They only had a wine license. No beer. This was really embarrassing for my friend who had thoughtfully organised the night out in my honour.  All my close friends know I can’t drink wine because I get a massive hangover headache the next day. Red wine is particularly bad. A nuisance in many ways, but I believe my hangover problem has stopped me from   having serious problems with alcohol. When your hangover problem lasts a week (yes, that’s my record) and makes you feel severely depressed with constant nausea & vomiting you tend to drink less.

But when I saw my friend’s upset face, that she had n’t checked the restaurant served beer I decided to have a glass of wine. Knowing I was only having a single glass,  I said go for the red wine.  My  friends prefer red wine. So good humour restored, we had a really  lovely  enjoyable night.


I gave myself a hangover headache

The following day, after just a glass of red wine, I had a hangover  headache which needed painkillers. I cursed myself for deciding to take the glass of red wine just so I would not  upset my friend. I had n’t even enjoyed it. If I’m being honest, knowing my friend, once she saw me enjoying myself, her upset would not have lasted long and the slagging would have started.  But like many women do, I went into people pleasing mode.


Why are n’t you drinking?

The following Friday, another big night out for a friends 50th birthday. (Yeah I’m at that stage now) I told another friend I could pick them up as I was driving. I was faced with a barrage of questions

why are n’t you drinking”.

Because of the previous week’s lesson with the hangover headache, I did n’t go into people pleasing mode. That plus the fact I had a lot to do on the Saturday meant this time  I stood my ground.

But it really struck me. How much alcohol is part of our lives. I don’t think any of my friends have an alcohol misuse problem. None of us are heavy drinkers. Yet, even in this group, I find myself constantly justifying not drinking.


Why are n’t you using grass?

Alcohol is the only drug in the world where, when you stop taking it, you are seen as having a problem. The only drug in the work that you have to justify not taking”. (From Jason Veale) Nobody ever asks you why you are n’t using grass or ecstasy when you go out. Yet the harm  of alcohol abuse far outweigh the harm of   these other  illegal drugs.


Should I just give up drinking?

Would it be easier if I just tell everybody I’m giving up drinking altogether?  But I do enjoy an occasional beer, particularly with a meal so why should I?

I think I’ll try out a few of those non-alcohol beers, Lucy recommends and then decide.


Social life can make it hard to reduce drinking

So if you’re thinking of reducing your drinking, it’s really important to consider your social life.

Does your social life involve getting together over a few drinks and nothing else?  For many of us Irish, that’s the entirety of our social life. So you may need to plan different social activities which don’t involve drinking.


We’ll have a course on this shortly so sign up here, if you’d like to know when it comes available.




4 tips to happy alcohol free holidays

1. Go somewhere different

Visiting old haunts that are filled with drinking memories will only serve to remind you of what you used to do on holiday – drinking! This will more than likely intensify the feeling that holidays aren’t quite the same without booze. Pick a brand new location instead, and begin to build some fresh memories of relaxing, healthy days in the sun on with  happy alcohol free holidays.

2. Select a destination that has more to offer than bars and clubs.

Faliraki, Ayia Napa and the like do not feature a great deal to do for Soberistas who want alcohol free holidays.  At least, not unless you enjoy being surrounded by lots of sunburnt people who are throwing up and falling over drunk. Look for holidays that have tons of activities and/or sightseeing opportunities, and immerse yourself in something new and exciting. Alternatively, choose somewhere that’s renowned for peace and quiet, take your Kindle, and aim for a chilled out week of doing very little.

3. Pick your companions carefully.

The summer holiday is, for most, the main vacation of the year, and thus it’s crucial to get everything just right – including your companion/s. We all know that alcohol does a good job of blurring reality but when you’re sober you need to make sure you’re with people you really like! It is ok to be a bit selfish here; if your in-laws drive you round the bend then do everything in your power to avoid spending two weeks away in close proximity to them. Socialising with people whose company you love will help reduce the desire for escapism by drinking.

4. Regard your holiday as the perfect opportunity to be kind to yourself.

We work our butts off all year round, juggling childcare with work and household chores – the summer holiday should be perceived as a break from the daily grind. Hangovers and heavy drinking do nothing to aid emotional and physical recuperation; they only drag you down further. Focus on the pros of the AF holiday – rest, relaxation and wellbeing, and remind yourself of how awful you used to feel after two weeks of boozing in the sun.

Alcohol free cocktails, the buzz without the hangover

alcohol free cocktails


Diet Coke, orange juice, sparkling mineral water…there’s nothing wrong with these drinks, but there’s not much that’s particularly exciting about any of them either.

When you get rid of the booze, start experimenting with tasty Alcohol Free cocktails. There’s a whole world of exciting vodka and alcohol -free drinks out there, just waiting to be tasted! Try these alcohol free cocktails suggestions for starters…

Pina Colada

1 litre pineapple juice
400 ml coconut cream
Crushed ice
Toasted coconut and a strawberry to garnish
Simply blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and decorate with a slice of strawberry and a sprinkle of toasted coconut – and a cocktail umbrella!

Apple, Kiwi & Lime Mocktail

250ml apple juice
Juice of 3 limes
2 kiwis
Crushed ice
A few basil leaves to garnish
Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve in a tall glass with a couple of basil leaves to garnish.

Citrus Iced Tea

5 tea bags (nothing fancy – I use Yorkshire Tea, my favourite)
2 tbsp caster sugar
Handful of chopped mint
250ml fresh orange juice
Juice 1 lime
Ice cubes
A few mint leaves to garnish
Make the tea as usual using about a litre of water. Add the chopped mint and leave to stew for a few minutes. Strain and leave the liquid to cool. When cool, pour into a jug and mix in the orange and lime juices, sugar and ice cubes. Serve in elegant, tall glasses and garnish with a couple of mint leaves.

Virgin Mojito (serves two)

Juice of 2 limes
3 tsp. x brown sugar
Handful of chopped fresh mint
Ice for serving
Soda water
Mix together the lime juice, sugar and soda water in a jug. Stir in the chopped mint, retaining a few sprigs for garnishing. Pour over ice in tumblers and top with the mint.

Spiced Orange Smash (serves three)

1 litre freshly squeezed orange juice
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
½ tsp. chili powder
Crushed ice for serving
Pinch of sea salt
Grind the coriander leaves and sea salt in a pestle and mortar. Stir into the orange juice together with the chilli powder.  Pour into tall glasses over crushed ice and serve.

Coffee Frappe (serves two)

2 cups freshly brewed coffee
½ cup of milk
Crushed ice
Brown sugar to taste
Combine the coffee, milk and ice in a blender. Pour into tall glasses to serve and add brown sugar to taste where desired