No more wasted nights

How young Al­ber­tans are find­ing op­tions to party without booze

StarMetro Edmonton - - FRONT PAGE - thes­tar.com/ed­mon­ton

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

CODIE MCLACH­LAN/STARMETRO ED­MON­TON

Ed­mon­ton’s Kaitie De­gen is the brains be­hind Sober Satur­dayz.

MADE­LINE SMITH/STARMETRO

Kira Dun­lop hatched an idea for a group ded­i­cated to sober so­cial­iz­ing called the Bor­ing Lit­tle Girls Club.

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