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The expert view -- we fear we'll miss out if we don't drink

Stone Cold Sober is just an example of Ireland's "unwarranted fear" that our social lives will evaporate without drink, according to a substance abuse expert.

Daniel Regan, a researcher with the school of psychology at NUI Galway said that the fact that such a show has even been made is indicative of Ireland's "all or nothing" mentality.

"I think that there is a need for a programme to highlight six guys not drinking is quite negative in itself. We obviously have issues with alcohol consumption here. It's not drinking per se, but the way we do it," he told the Herald.

"Drinking is common, it's done all throughout the world but it's done to such excess here.

"A lot of health problems emerge from excessive drinking. Encouraging people not to drink is not a moral choice, or an attempt to oppress Irish culture, but the simple fact that Irish livers are no different from an American or English liver."

Binge

Mr Regan said that in spite of all of the negative health implications associated with binge drinking, fear is the driving force behind excessive drinking.

"I think the majority of these guys are in their mid 20s and I'm very interested to watch and see how it's presented.

"People seem to think that without drink, their social life will diminish. It's as if they will be missing out on all this fun and your night won't be the same.

"In an Irish context, social lives revolves so strongly around drink culture that there are these connotations of fear that without drink, your social life will evaporate. But it's unfounded -- nobody is going to throw stones at you or condemn you for it," he said.

"Drinkers think not drinking will be the end of their social life. But people that don't drink can go out and have one, and because they don't have a hangover they can go out the next night and do it all over again. It's an unwarranted fear.

"It's the same fear that people have when they quit smoking, but a lot of people have learned that they just got on with it," he added.

"There is this Irish mentality that it has to be all or nothing. You have to either drink to excess or stay as far away from a pub as you can. It's as if you go for one and have too much fun or no fun at all.

"It's a part of our national identity, it's a mark of pride if you can remember half your night. These characteristics need to be worked out of our national narrative," he said.

cmcbride@herald.ie


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