One in six New Zealand adults has a potentially hazardous drinking pattern, but a new campaign hopes to change that and our drinking culture.
Hello Sunday Morning, launched in New Zealand today, encourages people to give up the drink for a period of time and blog about their experiences.
"New Zealanders have a real problem with alcohol, it's so ingrained in our culture, to go out and get drunk on a Saturday night ... we're just hoping to change that attitude towards drinking," said Jazz Rowland, an ambassador of the programme.
The 25-year-old stuntwoman admits she used "drink to get drunk".
But Ms Rowland, from Wellington, decided to give up alcohol for three months and was amazed by how much better she felt and how much more she got out of the weekend.
"Sunday is one of our biggest untapped resources, it's usually spent on the couch or not doing much because you're hungover.
It's amazing what you can get done."
Making use of Sunday mornings is the focus of the programme, which was founded in Australia by Chris Raine in 2009. Mr Raine started the project when he decided to give up drinking for a while to see how he would feel, then wrote about it on the internet, which inspired others to follow his path.
The programme quickly gathered steam and now more than 3500 people worldwide are involved, including 370 New Zealanders.
Among them is comedian Dai Henwood who is on the home-stretch of his dry three months, with just four weeks to go.
"It's quite a feat, but it's a bit weird when you realise how much of a feat it is - you shouldn't think that taking three months off drinking is so hard."
Henwood said he wanted to take some time off the booze as an experiment and stumbled across the programme online.
"Personally, it wasn't that I was drinking too much, actually I probably was drinking more than I should, but through touring I witness binge drinking in rural New Zealand epically. I got to a point where I was just a bit over booze."
The 34-year-old said blogging about it helped him stick to his sober goals because it was a support system and you did not want to let others down.
Today, Henwood, Ms Rowland and Mr Raine will bungy-jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge to launch the programme in New Zealand, along with some well-known faces, like student army leader Sam Johnson and and model Daley Tapa.
"We want to show people you can do something crazy without having to drink," Ms Rowland said.
Hello Sunday Morning said about 63 per cent of those doing the programme achieved all their goals with a further 33 per cent achieving some of them.
The average person who quits drinking for 12 weeks saves more than $1200, the programme's website says.
Alcohol Advisory Council acting chief executive Dr Andrew Hearn said: "The initiative supports people who choose to take time out to reflect on the role of alcohol in their lives and encourages them to take control of their lives."
* One in six people aged over 15 has a potentially hazardous drinking pattern.
* Three in five drinkers consumed more than recommended guidelines for a single drinking occasion at least once during 2008.
* Between 600 and 1000 people are estimated to die each year from alcohol-related causes.
* Police estimate approximately one-third of all apprehensions involve alcohol.
* Harmful alcohol use was estimated to cost New Zealand $4.9 billion in 2005 and 2006.
(Source: Alcohol Advisory Council)
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