Hello Sunday Morning: Changing Alcohol Culture

What if we could change drinking culture?

What if we could become more intentional about the way we use alcohol?

What if we could change the role it has assumed in our lives?

The sober community of Hello Sunday Morning

Chris Raines, the founder of Hello Sunday Morning (HSM), asked these questions.

Hello Sunday Morning is an online community of people seeking to change their relationship with alcohol.

Raines developed the project as a result of his own experience with binge drinking and his desire to find a better way. It began with a simple decision to eliminate alcohol from his life for a year and to blog about the experience. This led to an in-depth study of Australia’s binge drinking culture and the creation of an online community where people who wanted to change their drinking lives could come for support and encouragement.

There is no stock profile of the HSMer. Not all HSMers are or were binge drinkers or college partiers.

The community has expanded to include men and women of all ages who exhibit a variety of drinking patterns. They come for different reasons. Some may be concerned about daily drinking — even if it’s only a drink or two. Others see that alcohol is an established life habit they have had a hard time breaking on their own. Perhaps they suspect they have a more severe problem with alcohol than they realize and want the break that HSM provides in order to reevaluate their drinking habits.

Some are full-blown alcoholics. Others are seeking self-discovery. Some want to learn how to interact in social situations without booze. Others use it as a health challenge and a time to focus on physical wellness goals

The HSM sobriety challenge

A member who decides to do an HSM challenge commits to taking either a three-month or yearlong break from alcohol. The purpose is to pull alcohol out of the individual’s life for a period of time so he or she may see, with sober eyes, any negative or unhealthy patterns around drinking. Members are also encouraged to take full advantage of the time and learn that a life without alcohol can still be social, fulfilling and fun.

The HSM website invites members in a friendly and non-confrontational way to “Take a break, achieve some goals, get some perspective.”

Once a member creates a profile, he or she has the option to commit to an HSM challenge. Members receive a personal page for blog posting, there is the option to set goals, and each week a button on their page allows them to check in and share with the community that they have completed another sober week. Members can interact with each other, read and comment on postings of other HSMers, and sync their experience and writings with various social media platforms.

Emotional dependence on alcohol

Most people signing on for an HSM challenge are not alcohol dependent in the sense of physical dependence. What they suffer from is a deep emotional dependence on alcohol — for stress relief, for overcoming social anxiety, for livening the night, to enjoy the game and other culturally sanctioned reasons for drinking. This is the type of drinker most helped by an HSM challenge. Alcoholics experiencing physical dependence on alcohol may need a more professional approach to detox, treatment and recovery.

Lifelong sobriety?

Maybe.

For some, the HSM challenge will open their eyes to the severity of a problem they had not previously realized. Some, convinced of their problem with alcohol abuse, will seek treatment and help in permanently corking the bottle. But for many, HSM is a chance to step out of the whirlpool and think soberly about who they are, what they need and what place they want alcohol to have in their lives.

The question posed by the website speaks to the goal of the endeavor: “Can alcohol be something we enjoy rather than something we need?” The idea is not that drinking is necessarily bad, but that there may be a better way.

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