No more wasted nights
How young Albertans are finding options to party without booze
CALGARY—Nearly two years ago, Kira Dunlop woke up from her last bad night with alcohol and decided she had to stop drinking.
“I was just like, ‘Something’s got to give. I can’t continue to live my life like this. I can’t continue to black out. I can’t continue to drink every day.’”
The 23-year-old’s decision came right before that year’s Stampede.
And while Dunlop, who is originally from Toronto, said she loves dressing up and going to Stampede events, she didn’t know how hard it would be to navigate the almost inescapable presence of alcohol at the parties surrounding the 10-day festival.
According to the federal Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 78 per cent of Canadians reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in 2017. But young adults between 20 and 24 years old have riskier patterns of alcohol consumption than younger or older age groups — the survey reports that in 2017, 29 per cent of young adults exceeded the guideline for chronic risk. That means no more than 10 drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men.
A 2016 study from the University of Calgary’s Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education also found that the number of Canadians who reported binge drinking steadily increased from about 13 per cent in 1996 to nearly 20 per cent in 2013.
Dunlop counted herself among the people whose drinking was becoming unhealthy, and after she stopped, she hatched an idea for a group dedicated to sober socializing called the Boring Little Girls Club.
She envisions the group as an inclusive space for women, trans and non-binary people to spend time together and support each other’s decisions, removed from the pressures of drinking.
In Edmonton, Kaitie Degen, 26, started running Sober Saturdayz events last August. They’re parties where people can go out with their friends, but alcohol isn’t involved.
Degen has watched some of her family members struggle with addictions, and as she got older, she started noticing alcohol getting in the way of her friends’ lives, too.
“The biggest thing was that we want to cut back on drinking and partying. But we just didn’t know how to socialize without drinking or partying,” she said.
“I CAN’T CONTINUE TO DRINK EVERY DAY.” Kira Dunlop
Edmonton’s Kaitie Degen is the brains behind Sober Saturdayz.
Kira Dunlop hatched an idea for a group dedicated to sober socializing called the Boring Little Girls Club.