Daily Archives: 10/02/2015

Feeling like a deviant?

There was an article in the Daily Mail pre-Christmas looking at the issue of how you hide the fact that you don’t drink but let everyone think that you do at a social function or work event without looking and feeling like a deviant.
DEVIANT??  I take issue with that word and here is the definition: ‘different from what is considered to be normal or morally correct’.  Normal or morally correct ……..
It was an interesting enough read and their top tips included:
  • Using health-related excused like ‘alcohol gives me migraines’.
  • Buying a drink but then not drinking it.
  • Buying a round of drinks for colleagues.
  • Saying ‘I’ve got an early morning’ or ‘I’m not drinking tonight instead of ‘I don’t drink’
  • Pretending you are trying to lose weight.
  • Volunteering to be the designated driver.

What struck me was the phrase included that became the title of this post:

Drinking can be a big part of workplace culture, and being viewed as an outsider for any reason can hurt you professionally,’ said the study’s lead author Dr Lynsey Romo, of North Carolina State University.  ‘In our study, we interviewed successful professionals who don’t drink,’ Dr Romo said. ‘We found they felt being a non-drinker was a form of deviance.’  However workers reported they didn’t want to miss out on the career opportunities that come from networking and socialising.  Sometimes, attending functions was a requirement of their job. 

‘Non-drinkers developed a variety of strategies to attend social events without making themselves, their co-workers, or their clients feel uncomfortable,’ Dr Romo added.  The researchers found most non-drinkers didn’t announce the fact that they were not drinking because they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves. 

Not wanting to be seen as judgemental or ‘holier-than-thou’ some would buy an alcoholic drink but not drink it, in order to fit in with their colleagues.  The research shows there is perceived pressure to conform to social norms in the workplace, the researchers argued.

This work highlights a challenge facing many non-drinking adults,’ Dr Romo said.  ‘It’s something that organisations and HR departments may want to take into consideration.  HR departments who have historically been worried about problem drinkers, should also consider the needs of non-drinkers, she added.  They should make sure non-alcoholic beverages are available at happy hours or host social activities that don’t centre around drinking, she said.  She concluded: ‘If employers want their employees to achieve their full potential, they need to foster an environment that encourages their employees to be themselves.’

The research was published online the Journal of Applied Communication Research.

This article made me laugh and then I got pretty annoyed.  OK it’s the Daily Wail and so some of the irritation is in their way of presenting news stories but it was more than that.  When did it become not okay for someone not to drink alcohol?  Why should our not drinking make anyone feel uncomfortable?  You would rather us drink so that you feel comfortable even though we have chosen not to and are happy with that choice?  What kind of f**ked up logic is that?

Why has drinking become the default for normal?  Why is there an assumption that non drinkers would be judgemental or ‘holier than thou’?  It sounds like drinkers projecting their issues on to the non-drinkers from where I’m sitting.  This stigmatisation of alcohol dependence and the choice to not drink needs to change and fast.

At 17 months into alcohol free living I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’ve stopped drinking or that I am an alcoholic.  I’m getting pissed off with hiding it and keeping quiet just so everyone else feels okay.  I am not a deviant!!  <Rant over>