Drinking too much? Top tips to get back in control
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Saska Plowman Psychotherapeutic Counsellor (Integrative) RMBACP
22nd March, 20180 Comments
If you are reading this then I am guessing you would like to drink less.
There is a big difference between alcohol use, abuse and addiction. It might be useful to think of it as a scale with use on one side, abuse or misuse in the centre and addiction on the other end of the scale. Take a few moments to think about where you sit within that scale and then identify where you would like to be.
If you feel you are moving towards misuse or addiction – now is the time to take back some control.
The following steps may be helpful. When working with addicted clients, it is helpful to look as people, places and things. So, step one is to identify your triggers. You can do this by answering the following questions:
1. Are there certain people you seem to drink more with? Where do you most often drink? What things trigger drinking behaviours for you?
Identifying the environmental triggers and becoming aware of them allows you the opportunity to make and create changes to drinking behaviours. Alcohol use is also often used to deal with our emotions. Take some time to think about your emotional triggers for drinking.
2. Are you stressed and drink to feel relaxed? Are you anxious and drink to feel sociable? Do you have low self esteem and drink to feel better about yourself? Have you suffered trauma and drink to forget?
The underlying emotional reasons for drinking are endless. What is important is that you identify the emotions YOU feel have an impact on YOUR drinking behaviours. Once you have gained an awareness of this, have a think about alternative, helpful coping strategies you can use to manage these feelings instead of drinking.
3. Ask yourself: Can I spend less time with people who trigger my drinking and more time with people who do not trigger drinking for me? Are there other places I can go where I am less likely to drink? What helpful actions can I take when I feel triggered to drink?
I appreciate this is easier said than done, particularly in today's drinking culture. The following tips are those that clients have reported to have been helpful to them.
- When out drinking, have a soft drink between drinks.
- Change a large glass of white wine to a white wine spritzer.
- Set an intention to limit your number of drinks before going out and stick to this (the feeling of achievement when you do this is great).
- Remind yourself of your motivations to change (these may include better health, relationships, saving money etc).
- Turn up to parties later to remove the opportunity of long hours spent drinking.
- Learn to recognise the point at which you feel you lose control of drinking. For many people this is 3-4 drinks.
If you feel you are becoming dependant, or even addicted to alcohol, then counselling can help you to determine both the underlying causes and offer the support needed to create change.
About the author
Saska Plowman is a psychotherapeutic counsellor, supervisor and tutor of counselling skills. She runs her private practice in Victoria Park, Hackney East London E9. Saska has also worked within a range of settings including Camden, City and Islington and Westminster bereavement service, Westminster drugs service and Entrust Young peoples service.
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