Worried about your drinking?

In a quiet moment, do you ever worry about your drinking?

For professionals, there is a world of difference between social drinking and controlled drinking. Many of our clients who believe they want to change their relationship with alcohol recognise that often when they intend to have a social drink, the night goes out of control and they end up drinking at a harmful level. When we discuss the topic of a programme of “controlled drinking” then it would be fair to say that there have been some issues with your alcohol use. For the purposes of this discussion we will assume that “social drinking” is for individuals who do not have problems of any description in regard to their alcohol use. A handy way of assessing whether your alcohol use needs to be addressed is by asking yourself if you experience any problems in the four areas or L's.

Liver: Is alcohol affecting your health either mental or physical?

Lover: Is alcohol straining your relationships?

Livelihood: Is alcohol interfering with your working life?

Law: Is alcohol responsible for getting you into trouble with police/courts?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then you may want to look at modifying your intake.

Here are some tips for trying to cut down and drink in a more controlled manner.

  • Know what is a sensible amount to drink for you, and stick to this.
  • Have soft drinks between alcoholic drinks. We call this “have a pacer not a chaser!”
  • Try to stick to the one type of alcohol as mixing spirits can increase your chances of intoxication.
  • Have an excuse ready for friends who would try and persuade you to drink more. Saying you have an early start tomorrow or that you’re on tablets are plausible reasons, that other will accept.
  • Arrive later than others to the pub/party, and don’t try to catch up.
  • Leave earlier.
  • Take less cash out with you.
  • Don’t lend or borrow money for alcohol.
  • Think about what the forthcoming event involves i.e. a wedding (drinking all day) could you delay when you start drinking to avoid going over your set limit?
  • Be realistic, if you are thinking of going out with friends who are heavy drinkers, what’s the chances of you not getting caught up in a heavy session?
  • Eat a good meal before drinking, snacking on crisps/nuts while you are drinking is also a good idea, it can slow down the absorption of alcohol into the blood.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach, you will feel the effects immediately and will have less chance of sticking to your plan.
  • Take up a hobby or interest that doesn’t involve drinking.
  • Don’t test yourself by saying you’ll go to the pub to watch a football match on TV.
  • Tell your close friends and family you want their support, ask them not to encourage you to drink too much.
  • If you drink to relieve stress, think of healthier ways to address this i.e. taking up a sport, going to the gym, walking, regular exercise is a great way to relieve tension and has fantastic overall health benefits.  Many of our clients come to us because of their drinking, but it soon become apparent, that the real issue is stress, anxiety, depression or phobias.

One of the phrases we use in our practice is “nothing changes if nothing changes”. So if you keep the company of the same people in the same places at the same times, then can we really be surprised if the same thing happens? If your routine is to go to a bar before heading to a nightclub and that often ends up with exactly the sort of situation that you’re trying to avoid; the routine needs to be broken.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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