Drinking is an enjoyable pastime when we unwind and socialise.
You may be sharing a bottle of wine with friends or family at home, enjoying a beer in a bar with friends or out and about for a get-together.
There are also times when some of us use alcohol in times of stress when we are emotional and have had enough of what’s going on in our lives.
Nothing wrong with any of this at all, it’s all completely natural.
BUT…It might be that you have been drinking extremely regularly, like every single day and it has nothing to do with what your situation and circumstances are. You’re just doing it. You have a bad habit you just can’t seem to get shot of.
This is the right time to ask yourself ‘Why am I drinking so much?’ and ‘Could I have a drink problem?’. ‘Have I got to the point that I’m actually dependent on it?’
Start to consider your limits.
The Department of Health guidelines advises that no one should drink more than 14 units per week. Women should limit themselves to no more than 2-3 units a day. Men should limit themselves to no more than 3-4 units a day.
A standard 250ml, 4% pint of beer or a 76 ml very small glass of wine 13% both have about 2 units of alcohol. See the guideline at the end of this article.
Now you can understand just how quickly you can use up your allowance.
Saving up units for one big binge-drink is definitely not advisable. Binge drinking is defined as drinking 6 units in one day for a woman, and 8 units for men. It’s a really bad habit and one I see so often.
Keep an eye on your alcohol tolerance.
If you do drink on a regular basis, daily, for example, your alcohol tolerance will be quite high.
This means that you will need a lot more alcohol to get your buzz or to be in your chilled out zone.
Your brain gets used to a certain level of stimulation so you will over time need more and more alcohol.
Keep an honest daily record of your drinking habits.
Become really honest and make a note of what you are drinking weekly or daily. It’s really easy to make out you had one glass with your dinner when you actually had two.
Keeping track of when you are drinking can be a real eye-opener and the big alarm bell ringing that yes you do have a problem and it needs sorting out sooner rather than later.
Make a note of ‘where’ you drink.
If you’re binge drinking when you’re out socialising then it’s definitely a bad habit that needs to be changed.
Your body can only process 1 unit of alcohol per hour. Putting your body into alcohol overload will get you drunk quicker but it can also stop you breathing, stop your heart, make you lose consciousness and make you more prone to accidents.
A lot of people find that they drink at home on their own, especially if they want to avoid family members that might be concerned about their drinking habits. This is an extremely bad habit on its own…I call it isolating.
If there are children and a husband or wife at home, many people will hide their alcohol and even drink it out of a coffee cup. This is where alcohol really has become a problem, the bad habit you have to eliminate.
I know because I used to do it! Yes, I’m an alcoholic in recovery!
If you drink at work and find yourself disguising your bad habit by eating sweets or mints to cover the smell then it’s definitely time to ask for help.
Think people don’t know…they do! They’ll also think you have a really bad habit of eating junk food!
Why do you think you drink?
Are there issues in your life that make you unhappy and the alcohol has now become a drug for you to numb out those feelings?
Or, is it just you get home, feel bored, have a drink to relax and end up drinking a whole bottle?
Does drink make you feel more confident around people?
Think of the reasons “Why?” and write them down.
How do you think about your drinking?
Do you find yourself thinking about the next drink?
Do you feel anxious if you think you will be unable to access alcohol?
Are you disgusted by your bad habit or do you just accept you drink a little bit too much as standard?
Ask yourself these questions and again, write it all down.
Do you have any health problems?
Have you noticed any changes in your physical or mental health?
Daily hangovers are not normal.
Headaches, stomach pains, sweats, shaking (tremors), blackouts (you remember very little), feeling depressed, pains, pins and needles/tingling in hands and feet, memory loss, sweating hot and cold or vomiting and diarrhoea?
If any of these health issues occur you need to see a Doctor. Excess alcohol intake can be a serious killer. Don’t wait.
How much are you spending?
If alcohol has become a priority before you buy or pay anything else and you have started to feel guilty about this, then it is time to make changes and ask for some help.
Plus financial worries will only keep you from paying your priority bills and you may make thoughtless choices on spending as you won’t be thinking straight, especially if you have been drinking. This is another bad habit you have to change.
So think about it….are you constantly overspending? Have you picked up any other really bad habits?
Are you damaging your career?
Hangovers, lateness and an unhealthy diet (another bad habit!) because of your drinking habits stop you from functioning.
Are you missing deadlines, constantly making excuses? Have already been up for a disciplinary or on your way to one?
Time to reduce your alcohol intake, get rid of this bad habit and take stock of your actions so you can get yourself back on track avoiding any further action from the company you work for.
I was self-employed in my addiction days, I ended up on state benefits and my son suffered for it.
What’s going on in your relationships?
Alcohol misuse will not just affect you. It will affect your children, your partner, family and friend relationships, as well as the relationships you have with your colleagues and clients.
In fact, it will go beyond that to the simple issue of everyone you come into regular contact with.
Every shop assistant and even your pharmacist will suss you out! Mine still mention it now! Over 6 years down the line!!
Pay attention to the people around you. Are they making any comments about your drinking, do they seem frustrated with you, angry, upset or are ignoring you? Are your relationships strained or damaged because of your drinking.
5 Essential Tips To Stop Drinking
1) Make a plan.
Start to count the number of units that you drink. Keep within the recommended daily guidelines.
Set yourself a limit on how much you will drink and cut back gradually each day.
As mentioned, writing a record is a very good idea. It increases your commitment level and can help you keep to your intentions.
2) Reduce, start hydrating and start eating a healthy diet.
Smaller measures of alcohol are a great start and try to go for a lower alcohol strength.
In between drinks have a small glass of water. Make sure you drink water to quench your thirst, not alcohol.
Always carry a bottle of water and leave the alcohol at home.
Wait until you at least get home to have your first drink no earlier than 6 pm.
3) Take a break.
You will need to take a break from alcohol.
Your body needs time to recover, hydrate and to stock up on some healthy food and sleep.
You will be surprised at how more energised you feel physically and mentally after a complete break.
If you are a really big drinker do not stop totally. I can’t stress this enough.
It can kill you so please see your Doctor first.
4) Let people know.
Make sure you let family and friends that you have picked up a really bad habit and tell them you’re cutting down, having a break or that you want to give up drinking entirely.
Don’t be embarrassed. There is no shame in it.
You are only human and not the first person to have to go through this.
I know just how it feels, you need all the support you can get.
5) Change Your Bad Habits To Healthy Ones.
There are far better ways to cope, to learn to de-stress and deal with negative situations and emotions other than drinking.
Even the simplest things like reading a book, catching up with friends, getting out more, starting a course, being creative and even joining a gym may not seem exciting at the moment but do you find drinking exciting and healthy and do you want to keep on letting it destroy your life?
If you feel you can’t do it on your own then know I’m here if you have any concerns or you just need a chat.
So decide now. How big is your bad habit?
Are you ready to make the decision to change or you just want to carry on with this bad habit and in a few weeks time think to yourself:
“This is getting worse than I thought it would. I wish I had of got help before”.
It’s your decision.
Hoping you make the best choice.
Don’t hesitate to contact me even if it’s just for a chat.