Life & Style Editor Nicky Park is giving up booze and spending six weeks on the wagon.

More often than not I'm the flatmate inviting the neighbours over for an afternoon tipple, the one tapping on the window when I've forgotten my key, banging around in my boots after a BYO and turning up the tunes well past bedtime.

But for the last fortnight the (lucky) people I live with have been able to heave a sigh of relief, knowing that the weekend won't be filled with unexpected festivities. I was home to cook them dinner, act as a taxi to town and even run up the road to get painkillers for their Sunday morning aches. While I opted to spend the weekend in hibernation at home I wasn't totally hiding from alcohol. A group of girlfriends drank bubbly and ate blue cheese as I sipped my herbal tea on Saturday evening. I wasn't tempted by their pre-drinks, but I admit it was a pretty quiet evening.

The biggest hurdle this week has been the way I tend to associate the weekend with letting loose. Monday to Friday is filled with early starts, working hard, gym sessions, personal admin and food that makes my body feel happy. Making it through five days demands a reward. This was the justification for the first bottle of vino come 5pm Friday. Since getting on the wagon, I've swapped alcohol for carbs and candy. On Sunday I was filled with regret (and belly aches), but it was much easier to shift than the haze that follows a big night out. I'll be trying hard to phase out any sort of blow-out in the future, but it seems indulgence is in my nature.

Meanwhile, time off alcohol (and response to my blog) has prompted me to think about my drinking behaviour. It seems my 'weekday wellness vs weekend gluttony' cycle isn't unusual. It's pretty standard behaviour in my circles. And the Director of Alcohol Healthwatch, NZ, Rebecca Williams goes further, saying it's common amongst Kiwis.


She says around half of all alcohol consumed in New Zealand is done in "heavier drinking sessions" - meaning at least four standard drinks for women and six for men. Alcohol consumption, especially of heavier spirits, is on the rise. A recent survey found only 15 per cent of Kiwis think they're drinking too much.

"We've normalised quite heavy drinking patterns," she says.

"Researchers look at anything over four to six as binge drinking, but a lot of New Zealanders would laugh at that and think it was a quiet night out."

What do you think of this measure of binge drinking? Care to share your own drinking behaviour?
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