Cutting down in a heavy-drinking industry

April 2020 | 7 minutes

In some industries, alcohol is seen as an integral part of business – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many of us will have had the experience of drinking being expected on a work night out. In some industries, alcohol is seen as an integral part of business – but it doesn’t have to be that way. These quotes all come from people who work in digital advertising, an industry in which alcohol is often seen as central to networking, socialising and building working relationships. All of them are moderating or alcohol-free, and are members of a network of like-minded people, SPILL. What are their tips and stories?

“I love socialising and believe that if the people, atmosphere, venue, entertainment and conversation are all good, then it makes no difference what liquid I happen to have in my glass. A boring evening will still be boring with a glass of wine… This time 14 months ago, I thought I’d miss drinking. I don’t. At all. To me, there is not ONE single negative about becoming a non-drinker. So to all those starting out on their alcohol free journey; keep going and focus on every little win and all the positives.”

Julia Smith, co-founder of SPILL

“I drink mindfully. I choose when I want to drink and when I don’t and how much. For me that choice has come with age… There are so many other ways to socialise and build relationships and I would encourage organisers of events to think more creatively and inclusively when planning functions.”

Kelly Jacobson Collins

“I don’t abstain from alcohol completely, but I’m definitely way more mindful… I’ve started being vocal about not drinking and the reasons why. It’s surprising how many conversations it sparks with people who thought they had to keep quiet about this societal, and let’s face it, industry, taboo.”

Emma V Jackson

“I can proudly say I have been sober for 26 months, and wow, what a difference it has made to not only my life but all the people around me. I no longer commit ‘wine crimes’ or wake with the ‘beer fear’! I wake every day with no apprehension, regret or remorse from the actions of the previous evening. That is a million miles away from where alcohol took me.”

Michael Smith, co-founder of SPILL

“The concept of not having a drink was so alien to me it felt I really had no choice … Eventually my rock-bottom came and hit me between the eyes so hard I nearly lost everything that was important to me. With support, I put the booze down one day at a time and started to get better. I learned to address the causes and conditions which kept taking me back to alcohol and today my life is full of the things I nearly threw away in favour of ‘just one more drink’.”

Nick Welch

“I am in the early stages of my journey giving up alcohol, but SPILL has been fantastic to share with and it’s been great to hear from so many people I look up to in my working life.”

Charlie Ashe

“I cannot believe I quit drinking three years ago this month and the biggest surprise is that I don’t miss it at all… I’m still able to go out and party, and I want to! I’m also still the last one to leave. I’m still capable of being sober and doing daft things and I’m able to laugh at myself… There is nothing more powerful than owning who you are, and people can’t help but respect and admire you for that.”

Aimee Anderson

“I do enjoy a drink or a few from time to time, yet I enjoy it on my own terms. Over the last few years, I have become more comfortable with not drinking when I don't feel like it … I'd like to encourage everyone to be more mindful of creating a space where everyone can bring their full self; no matter of gender, sexual orientation, religion, ideas, emotions, beliefs, or the very choice of drink, may it be water, alcohol-free or with alcohol, as when we are able to bring our full selves, we are at our very happiest and best - and so much more productive too!”

Christine Suter

“Don't try and convince someone to have a drink if they've said they don't want one. Don't call someone boring! If you're taking people out, consider who is going and choose somewhere that has a good selection of AF drinks. And for heaven's sake don't assume that she's pregnant just because she's not drinking alcohol.”

Elaine dela Cruz

Sober Party Industry Lads and Ladies (SPILL) is a digital advertising industry group co-founded by Julia and Michael. Anyone who is sober-curious, a mindful drinker, alcohol-free or simply interested in finding out more is welcome to join! Get in touch via WhatsApp or email.