A New Look At Safe Drinking
An increasing number of people feel uncomfortable with their drinking and want to make some changes although the thought of actually stopping altogether can be quite daunting.
Stopping is not necessarily the only course of action. If a person has become physically dependent on alcohol – and this happens when the number of units of alcohol drunk per week is around 90 for women and 120 for men - of course it is advisable to aim for a period of abstinence.
However, an alternative approach for people who might want change without necessarily giving up altogether is to reduce or control their drinking. This is where counselling can help in identifying triggers to drinking, looking at how stress is managed, and focussing on life-style.
Most people are aware of the abstinence-based model where problem drinking is classed as a disease and abstinence the only solution; the disease, called ‘alcoholism’ means the ‘alcoholic’ can never drink again. However, the controlled drinking model described above is a useful way of looking at drinking which dismantles the conventional view of alcoholism and accepts that anyone can develop a drinking problem.
We no longer limit our attention to a small group of 'alcoholics' whose drinking behaviour allegedly derives from a single cause, and follows a single course. Instead we see a much larger and more diverse assortment of individual heavy drinkers who have little in common except that:
- They drink a lot
- They tend to have more problems in life than non-drinkers and moderate drinkers
- They show a puzzlingly inconsistent ability to manage their drinking
- Drinking has become a central activity in their way of life.
If the process of cutting down proves difficult, counselling can help. It can assist in identifying triggers to drinking, looking at how stress is managed, and focussing on life-style. Counselling places the responsibility on the person to decide how much of a problem there is and what they want to do about it.
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