Alcohol Awareness Week – Would You Like To Manage Your Drinking Better?

Paul Glynn, counselling, CBT therapy and psychotherapist London. MSc Counselling, PG Adv Cert CBT, Adv Cert Clinical Supervision, BPhil, MBACP (Accred).
Author: Paul Glynn, Clinical Director, Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Couples Therapist
Last updated: 2nd July 2024

The beginning of July allows us the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with alcohol, as it is alcohol awareness week. This is your chance to think about your drinking and if necessary, start to make some changes. 

This year’s theme is “understanding alcohol harm”. Most of us know that there are health risks associated with excessive consumption of alcohol. These can include liver disease, cardiovascular issues, as well as an increased risk of cancer. From a mental health perspective, excessive alcohol can impact our moods and cause some people to become aggressive and unreasonable. With this in mind, we might well ask, why do we drink?

Why Do We Drink Alcohol?

The reasons we drink are manifold. Some drink to relax, or socialise, some to de-stress or relieve boredom. Some may be drinking to help cope with or avoid problems, such as relationship difficulties, or feelings of fear, loneliness and isolation. 

The summer can increase the risks or desire to drink more alcohol. Hot weather means it is much easier to become dehydrated. Drinking may impair your judgment, making accidents more likely. In addition, binge drinking may become more likely as daytime social events extend into evenings and nights.

Tips for Moderating Alcohol Intake

The good news is that moderating how much you drink can have an instant positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. For example:-

  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones to stay hydrated.
  • Pairing alcoholic drinks with food, to slow down the speed your body absorbs alcohol, helps you reduce the risk of getting too drunk.
  • Staying in the shade during the midday heat. Get under cover between 11am – 2pm, to reduce the risk of dehydration so you won’t drink those extra unnecessary beers.
  • Bringing non-alcoholic drinks to social events others will appreciate this too!

If you’re hosting an event, you get to create an environment where your guests also have the opportunity to drink less alcohol – which can help you too, by:

  • Providing plenty of tasty non-alcoholic options. Include zero alcohol versions of drinks that are often popular with guests.
  • Placing the non-alcoholic drinks somewhere easy to see and reach.
  • Offering non-alcoholic drinks first.
  • Providing food.
  • Providing shade.
  • Shifting the focus away from alcohol, with activities such as sport, games or music.
  • Choosing the non-alcoholic option yourself!

Mental Health and Alcohol

For those with mental health problems, alcohol can appear to offer a quick fix. It can be seen as a way to feel better; a substance that changes our mood and reduces anxiety. 

For example, if you experience anxiety, alcohol can give you a very short-lived feeling of relaxation. But this quickly disappears. If you rely on alcohol to cover your anxiety, you may soon find yourself drinking more and more to relax. Over time this can lead to problems. Some might be struggling with insomnia and reach for alcohol as a way of relaxing and stimulating sleep. While many people report that alcohol helps them fall asleep, it ultimately compromises sleep quality and quantity by causing sleep disruptions later in the night. 

Likewise with depression. Alcohol is a depressant as it alters the delicate balance of chemicals in your brain. Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with depression. 

Ways to Improve Drinking Habits

If you are worried about your drinking there are many things you can do.  The Government advises that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week.  This is the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or six medium glasses of wine.

There are many things you can do yourself to improve your drinking habits:-

  • Make a plan – before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you are going to drink.
  • Set a budget – only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol
  • Let them know – tell your friends and family that you are cutting down and would value their support 
  • One day at a time – cut back a little each day
  • Make it a smaller one – you can still enjoy a drink, but go for a smaller size. Try a bottle of beer instead of a pint, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
  • Have a lower-strength drink
  • Stay hydrated – have a glass of water before you have alcohol, then alternate in between alcohol drinks.
  • Take a break – have several alcohol free days each week.

If you are struggling with managing your drinking, therapy can really help. An expert therapist can help you better understand the impulses which compel you to drink too much and discover ways to feel better about yourself, relax, have fun and enjoy life more, without being hampered by alcohol dependency. Contact KlearMinds today to find out more or book an appointment with one of our highly skilled therapists.

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