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The Problem With ‘Dry July’


“I’m doing Dry July”, he states through a mouthful of greasy fries, “bit of a detox, y’know?”. The stranger sitting at the next table over grins proudly as he proclaims his new found sobriety to the group; his mates look impressed. It’s a badge of honour with a one-month expiry date.

Here's to the Dry July fakers, haters and clout-chasers. Cheers!

Dry July is a fundraiser that challenges people to go alcohol-free to raise funds for people affected by cancer. It’s a fantastic initiative and an even better cause, with more than 29,000 Kiwis having taken part since it launched in Aotearoa in 2012. But, there is a problem with ‘Dry July’, as people have taken this fun rhyming phrase and applied it to their own half hearted attempts at short-term abstinence without giving any thought to the real deal. The chap speaking with his mouth full is not raising any money for charity and he certainly isn’t taking the challenge seriously (“I’ll probably end up having a drink at quiz night though”)—he just thinks it makes him sound cool.

Anywhere you go in the lead-up to this time of year you’ll hear countless liquor aficionados boldly claiming to be ‘doing’ Dry July—it’s the cool thing to do, after all. Among tertiary students these statements are particularly prevalent; a month of alcohol abstinence seems an impossible task which therefore makes the achievement extra brag-worthy. However, most of these claimants are not part of the group of hardworking individuals looking to make a difference through their sobriety as official fundraisers—instead they’re piggybacking an important cause and don’t even know it.

If you’ve been guilty of this in the past (or perhaps currently), why not make a real difference in not only your own life, but the lives of those around you, those who really need it? You’ll even get the added bonus of feeling good both morally and physically/mentally. You can give up the devil’s nectar for the greater good – because let’s face it – no one really cares if you’re just doing it for yourself. That makes you no different to someone who touts their vegan lifestyle or harasses you into joining their Crossfit cult gym.

The prevalence of both official and unofficial Dry July practitioners speaks to our famous binge drinking culture—going ‘dry’ wouldn’t be such a big deal if we weren’t drinking too much to begin with. The fact that it can be considered an achievement to quit drinking for 31 days out of the year is an interesting notion, but one that has been embraced and accepted regardless of motive or outcome. Let’s try to be a little more productive with our non-drinking, and do some real good in the process. It isn’t actually that hard now, is it?

If you need an excuse to give up the booze, Dry July is certainly a good one. Raise some money for the cause, feel good and boost your health in the process. It doesn’t get much better than that.