A Port Fairy woman's decision to give up drinking alcohol has had a very welcome silver lining.
Amy Armstrong decided to give up drinking after noticing her consumption increased during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
"During the first lockdown in 2020, my mental health took a dive but my drinking - like many people's - took a sharp increase," Mrs Armstrong said.
The 40-year-old said it was a wake-up call.
"I'd been drinking excessively for years though but didn't recognise it as problematic because binge drinking and 'blowing off steam' is so normalised in our culture," Mrs Armstrong said.
"Being hungover is a badge of honour and bad behaviour is too easily laughed off. My mood was low and it was getting worse with drinking and it was having a really detrimental effect on my family. I knew I had lost control and really struggled to stop at one or two drinks. I was all or nothing."
Along with giving up drinking alcohol, she launched her own website Dry but Wet which details her transition to non-alcohol life.
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Mrs Armstrong said her business, which offered a range of services including reviews of non-alcoholic beverages, had grown at a quick rate.
It comes as data from from the Victorian Food and Fibre Export performance report revealed Australians' penchant for non-alcohol beverages was on the rise.
"My audience has grown very quickly and I am seeing more and more businesses open to stocking non-alcoholic options," Mrs Armstrong said.
In addition to reviews of non-alcohol beverages, Mrs Armstrong runs non-alcoholic wine tasting events and works with individuals and businesses to educate them about the wide range of non-alcoholic beverages on offer.
To date she has worked with a number of south-west businesses which were keen to offer non-alcoholic options, including the Cally Hotel, Salt Cave, Ministry of Ombibulous Studies and Port Fairy IGA.
She is also working on a podcast where she will interview businesses which stock non-alcoholic beverages.
"I now have over 130 reviews of all types of non-alcoholic drinks on the website - the largest online resource in the country," Mrs Armstrong said.
"I cover non-alcoholic sparkling wine, rose, white, red, beer, ready to drink, spirits and alternatives (grown up tasting drinks that don't replicate an alcoholic version).
"My passion is connecting people with the best quality non alcoholic drinks so that they can have a positive and inclusive drinking experience and potentially drink less alcohol. I aim to normalise non-alcoholic drinking."
Mrs Armstrong said she had experienced many health benefits since giving up alcohol almost two years ago.
"This decision has changed my life so completely," she said.
"It has given me confidence, clarity, drive that I never knew I had. I have rediscovered my identity, found my superpower."
Mrs Armstrong said she had discovered something she was passionate about.
"I have been able to launch a business and leave my long-term job to pursue it. It has been a massive growth period and I am learning more about myself every day," she said.
"I have so much energy and am so much more present, my relationship with my family has improved and I feel so much more connected with my 6-year-old daughter Violet.
"I am here for her instead of worrying about my next drink or dealing with the drama that is happening because of what I did when I was drunk. I live a present, guilt free, fulfilling life."
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