"Do you think I have a problem?" my girlfriend, who's a mother of two, asked over coffee.
Here we go. Now that I speak openly about quitting booze and living sober, I get asked this question about 375 times a week. More if it's a public holiday weekend.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends drinking no more than two standard drinks a day.
Many women I know call that 'wine time'. For many mums it draws a line between the mayhem of the morning and the impending bedlam of bath and bedtime. I get it.
I used to do the same when I got home from work. I'd dive into the fridge, headfirst into a bottle of chardonnay. In our minds it marks the end of the day. We can breath again. There is a sense of freedom, relief and release.
I haven't drunk alcohol for two years.
It does mean I'm now hyper aware of all the 'wine time' memes that merrily circulate on social media. Even big company brands churn them out for likes and social reach when alcohol has nothing to do with their core brand values. I find it interesting more than irritating; it just underlines how firmly engrained in Aussie culture drinking is.
You know the kind of memes I'm talking about:
"Coffee, you're on the bench. Alcohol, suit up"
"You know what rhymes with Friday? Wine"
"Adulting is hard, I deserve wine"
"Is it normal to be thinking about wine at this time on a Monday? Asking for a friend".
There are thousands of them.
Are we becoming numb to the message?
If we actually press pause for a minute, we can see how social media has given a new life to free alcohol advertising.
We have totally normalised alcohol as a way of calming ourselves down and dealing with stress.
When you step out of that fog, it does take time to get used to blocking out the constant social pressure to drink. It's all around us every day and pops up on social media feeds constantly.
Everyone drinks differently and for different reasons. One person's 4pm "cheers" is another's desperate escapism.
One of my girlfriend's is currently taking a six-month booze break. She knew she'd crossed the line when she had hiked 'wine time' to before the school run. Yes, she drove over the limit with her three young kids in the car.
It may well have crept up on you, I know you're not a bad person, but just because you give it a cutesy name, 'wine time', doesn't make this OK. It's gone too far and if you're at that point, it has to stop, now.
There is a more serious side to this, no matter how brightly coloured and fun the memes are.
When de-stressing is really just an excuse to avoid problems
Another girlfriend is very aware her 'wine time' is out of control. She's using alcohol to numb her pain and fear after the breakdown of her relationship. It's now become a really concerning problem.
Yes, life is incredibly stressful when you're juggling two kids under five as a single mum. But it's not wine time when it starts at 11am and you're sinking a bottle every day, seven days a week. That, my friend, is becoming a problem.
Honestly? It's not ideal to be craving wine in the morning.
If you're white knuckling it through the day and only catch your first proper breath when you have a large glass of pinot in your hand, you need to have a think about coping mechanisms.
There are other ways to deal with stress than 'wine time'.
It doesn't have to be part of every single day.
Having a few days off booze here and there is always good peace of mind. If you find it easy, brilliant, carry on as you were.
However, if you find banning 'wine time' for a while harder than you imagined, maybe 'wine time' needs watering down a little.
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