How have people who have stopped or reduced their alcohol consumption incorporated this into their social rituals?

Ashlea Bartram, Jaklin Eliott, Scott Hanson-Easey, Shona Crabb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Limiting alcohol consumption is beneficial for health, but can be challenging given the role alcohol plays in the rituals of many social occasions. We examined how people who stopped or reduced their alcohol consumption incorporated this change within their social rituals. Design: We conducted 16 semi-structured one-on-one interviews with adults aged 25–65 years, who lived in Australia and had stopped or significantly reduced their alcohol consumption in the previous year. Results: Through thematic analysis, we identified four approaches to adapting drinking rituals: replacing alcohol with other drinks, replacing drinking with other social activities, changing the meaning of drinking rituals and replacing drinking occasions with activities that achieve different goals. These approaches varied in the extent to which they reflected a low or high change in the meanings and/or behaviours attached to the ritual. Approaches involving little change, such as using alternative drinks, were more readily accepted by participants’ social companions than approaches involving more substantial changes such as replacing drinking with activities achieving different goals. Conclusions: Considering both the role and meaning alcohol carries in social interactions, and how else these might be achieved, may assist people to stop or reduce their drinking, without sacrificing their social lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-744
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 3 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol abstinence
  • alcohol drinking
  • health promotion
  • qualitative research
  • rituals
  • social behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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