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Thousands of Kiwis and Aussies Swear Off the Drink

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Thousands of Kiwis and Aussies Swear Off the Drink In Bid to End Binge Drinking Culture

December 22, 2013

Over 2,000 Kiwis have signed up to the alcohol behavioural change programme Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) since it launched in New Zealand in May last year, while globally, over 19,000 people have signed up since it started in Australia in 2009, in an effort to change the ingrained binge drinking culture.

Named in reference to the experience of waking up on Sunday morning without a hangover, HSM is a free online community that aims to help people change their relationship with alcohol for the better by giving it up for three months.  

Latest research from HSM suggests the programme - which is now in six other countries around the world including US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia – is helping participants to change an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

“We are seeing that participants are having positive changes in their drinking behaviour after completing the programme as well as a 40 per cent decrease in long-term alcohol related harm,” says HSM CEO, Chris Raine.

“Using the world-renowned Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to analyse HSM members’ drinking behaviours, our research has found that participants who were drinking at “risky” or “hazardous” levels before their HSM commitment were drinking at “low” risk levels after it, with some respondents being followed up a year after they had undertaken HSM,” he explains.

Other benefits that Kiwis participating in the programme have experienced by staying ‘alcohol-free’ for up to three months include an average saving of $1200 over the programme duration, as well as weight loss of between five to 15 kilos.

“We’re also now noticing that HSM is attracting far younger participants than most alcohol programmes which is extremely positive,” comments Chris. “Now that the festive season is upon us, we really urge people to have a good long think about why they drink and how they drink, and we challenge them to sign up to HSM and change their drinking behaviour so that they can experience the amazing benefits of this free online programme and have their best summer yet!”

Last year actor Will Hall got behind HSM by pledging to give up drinking for three months over summer - a huge feat for him during the festive season of parties and drinking.  With all his friends, family and cast members supporting him, Will had an extremely successful three months taking a break from alcohol, inspiring those around him and the HSM online community.  

“Thanks to Hello Sunday Morning, I can say one year on, that my relationship with alcohol has completely changed,” says Hall. 

New to the HSM programme this year is comedian & TV personality Guy Williams.

"For most of my life now I have been a non-drinker or as it’s more commonly known ‘a pussy’ and thus far it has worked out really well!  I really enjoy being a non-drinker (or a pussy as it’s more commonly called) and now thanks to Hello Sunday Morning you too can become a ‘pussy’. 

Taking a break from drinking (which is what HSM is all about) really gives you an interesting perspective on booze culture in New Zealand.  A lot of people think they can give up for 3 months but then don’t actually back it up! I think everyone would be both surprised and better off if they actually tried it for themselves. 

Becoming an ambassador of Hello Sunday Morning was the best decision that I’ve made since I got my ‘No Regrets’ tattoo removed.” 

Upon signing up to HSM, members stay in touch with each other through Hellosundaymorning.org, HSM Facebook “hubs” and other social media, supporting each other and sharing their experiences and revelations as a result of abstaining from drinking. 

“Social media enables our members to share their experiences with a huge community and receive instant support and encouragement,” says Chris. “Usually the festive season would be the hardest time of the year to abstain from drinking for a social drinker, but when you can see that you have a whole community behind you - literally 24/7 - suddenly you realise you are not alone,” he said. “This is so important because the feeling of isolation is one of the biggest challenges for anyone who is abstaining from alcohol because it is so entrenched in our culture.”

 HSM believes that one of the most valuable aspects of its programme is that it gives people the opportunity to discover why they are actually drinking, and although sometimes the reasons are scary, they also learn how to cope in every situation without the need to drink.

“We have found the main reasons people choose to drink are to cope with emotions, boost confidence and for a sense of identity. When you remove alcohol from the situation you see you don’t need alcohol for all the reasons you think you do - and seeing how other people behave when they are drunk is certainly an eye opener when you are sober!”

ENDS

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