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Having a Dry July has great health benefits. We've brought together a collection of articles that could help you with your Dry July.

Having fun and socialising without drinking alcohol

By ABC Everyday / By Patrick Wright on

Jahin Tanvir doesn't drink.

It doesn't stop him from having a good time with his friends, but there comes a certain point in the night where he's forced to explain himself.

At his first university party, the 20-year-old student says he had "like five beer bottles" shoved in his face.

"I went outside because I couldn't handle it," he says.

"[My friend] spoke to me and I was able to open up and tell her that I don't drink. She was empathetic, and told everyone, and it became more welcoming."

There are plenty of reasons why people might not drink alcohol. Jahin is Muslim, and drinking is against his faith.

Other people might choose to avoid alcohol for health reasons, or simply because they don't like the taste or effects.

It's becoming more common, too. Nearly 9 per cent of Australians described themselves as "ex-drinkers" in 2019, up from 7.6 per cent in 2016.

And while social events in Australia often involve alcohol, there are plenty of ways to have fun without getting on the booze.

Sam swapped after-work drinks for swims and yoga

Sam Wilson, 27, lives in Geelong. She stopped drinking about a year ago because she found it was making her unhappy.

"I was definitely someone who would never say no to a bev, and I was always up for a good time. But I didn't really understand my limits," she says.

"It started to really affect my mental health and how I was feeling at work."

Sam decided to take a break. About six weeks in, she was feeling great and decided that she wanted to give up for good.

She's swapped Friday night drinks for a yoga class at her local studio.

"I still catch up with mates," she says, "but I don't surround myself with people who are going out to binge drink or get blind."

Sam organises dinners, weekend barbecues or activities like swimming. She's started running her own yoga classes for friends in backyards, and she's walking more.

 "That has been a big one — instead of catching up with friends at a bar, going for a walk," she says.

"It's been really good. You're focusing on the conversation, getting fresh air and you're not spending money as well."

Dom stopped drinking, but hasn't stopped dancing

Dom Serov, 23, lives in Cherrybrook in Sydney's Hills District.

He stopped drinking a couple of years ago after he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition that affects the digestive system.

"Essentially I get very upset bowels," he explains.

Dom's favourite activity is dancing, and he loves art and watching live music. He likes to go out to venues, galleries and pubs, and his friends these days are less focused on drinking.

Alcohol may be present "but alcohol isn't the main attraction and you're not going there to get sloshed", he says.

Like Sam, Dom is also a keen walker. He likes to catch up with his friends over movies, games and film nights.

"People often mistake me as drunk even when I'm dead sober, and I guess that has a flow-on effect to my friends as well. If I'm clearly having a good time, then they are — we don't need to mix alcohol into that," he says.

"If all the alcohol in the world was to disappear tomorrow, then I would wake up an unchanged man."

Ashleigh has embraced tea and uno cards

Ashleigh Cassel, 28, lives in Lennox Head, on the north coast of New South Wales, and hasn't had a drink in almost a year.

"I used to work in hospitality, and it was very easy to have a knock-off drink," she says.

She often found that first drink led to many, and the consequences weren't pleasant.

"I saw a lot of beautiful, sunny days go by in bed," she says.

While it wasn't easy, Ashleigh has found the change has helped rather than hindered her social life.

She's having deeper and more meaningful conversations, and the friendships she's made while sober tend to be longer lasting than those made on a boozy night out.

"If I'm tired, I don't have another drink, I go home," she says.

"If I'm feeling like a dance, I don't have another drink to loosen up, I go and do it."

These days, Ashleigh will have a cup of tea or glass of kombucha when she needs a perk up. And if she's catching up with friends, she'll often bring along a game or activity.

"The other day we went to see a band, and we brought our uno cards to sit around and play," she says

"I like that you can get really competitive. It's fun and there's lots of laughter."

Importantly, she doesn't feel like she's missing out on anything and she's taking ownership of her enjoyment.

"If I go out and meet some friends, I can credit that to myself [rather than alcohol]. And for me, it's been confidence boosting."

This article was originally published on ABC Everyday. Read the original article.

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