'I was addicted to alcohol': Reformed drinker encourages women to try sobriety

It was in March 2014 that Rebecca Weller last had a drink.

She had woken the following day at 5am, staring at the ceiling with her dehydrated head pounding ... and wondering why she kept doing this to herself.

"If you'd told me back then that life would be better on this side, I wouldn't have believed you," she says.

"How would I have fun? How would I relax? How would I socialise, without wine?"

But Rebecca says if she hadn't tried a sobriety experiment for herself, she would never have known her true potential.

"I'm not going to lie, the first 90 days were tough," she says.

"Every night at 6pm, when I'd usually pour myself a glass of wine, I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I felt irritated and out-of-sorts. I wanted to feel happy and confident in my choice not to drink. Forget FOMO, I wanted to feel empowered by the changes I was making."

Eventually, Rebecca realised how much sobriety enhanced her clarity, creativity and productivity - not to mention confidence and self-worth. And she hasn't looked back for a second.

Now Rebecca is helping other women do the same via her online coaching program, Sexy Sobriety.

"I felt deeply inspired to create something that would help other women through those first 90 days," she says.

"So they could see for themselves just how good sobriety can feel, and what a difference it can make to their lives."

New research by the University of New South Wales says young women are drinking as much as, and in some cases, more than men.

Professor Tanya Chikritzhs says the surge in alcohol consumption directly correlates to the amount of women being harmed.

"People who drink at the high end, the risky end, are actually drinking more than ever, and so putting themselves at greater risk of harm, because there is a relationship between how drunk you are and how likely you are to get into trouble."

“We see falls, we see drownings, sometimes people get burnt, we see woundings, cuts, broken legs, broken arms, broken jaws.”

“Being intoxicated not only can increase your likelihood of injuring yourself but it also increases your likelihood of injuring someone else”

With 20 years experience in alcohol research, she now leads the Alcohol Policy Research team at the National Drug Research Institute.

“When it comes to mouth cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer ... your risk increases from the very first drink and it goes up the more you drink”.

“It’s a very high relative risk, about 25 times that of a person who doesn’t drink."

“All alcoholic beverages contain a chemical that is carcinogenic and that’s alcohol itself, the ethanol content."

Fresh out of high school, Madi, Claire, Britt and Eliza allowed Sunday Night to document their typical night out drinking.

It is a classic depiction of the fastest-growing group of problem drinkers in Australia.

"Well I guess cause you're brought up with it, you're brought up with seeing your parents and you go places like 40th [birthdays] and all that kind of stuff," Britt said.

"Everyone's drinking and you as a child you're sitting there and you're watching them, so when you finally, you can join in on it, it's exciting and it's different.

For them the evening begins with pre-drinks at home including shots of vodka and pre-mixed spirits.

"They are on their way to being intoxicated before they even enter the licensed venue," Professor Tanya Chikritzhs said.

"If it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle, it might not be okay eventually. It will catch up with you. "

Madi turned 18 in July, but like her friends she began drinking before she was legally allowed to.

"With me personally I can handle my alcohol much better than most of my friend so could out drink my older brother or my dad I can handle it well... it takes me a while to get that little buzz."

Tanya says this intent to 'compete' with the boys is dangerous.

"It's not a good thing to be able to boast to be able to keep up with your male counterparts because we know that physiologically women's bodies have a tougher time dealing with alcohol then men's bodies do so it's an issue."

Rebecca's Sexy Sobriety program is designed to feel like an adventure rather than deprivation.

It includes simple daily exercises and sugar and alcohol-free elixir recipes to keep the mouth occupied.

There's also stories, pep talks and journals and interviews with women who wouldn't be where they are now if they hadn't ditched the drink.

"My message is just to try something different because we know what it’s like to drink we know what the cycle is like to drink over and over again. Of hating ourselves for it. What we don’t know is something different what we don’t know is sobriety."

"I actually feel physically sick [when I look at a bottle of wine] I worked so hard for my freedom that there’s no way I am going back to that cage. No way, no way."

Find out more about Sexy Sobriety here and also visit Hello Sunday Morning to see out if you are at risk.