The level of alcohol consumption has greatly increased throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. I have seen the devastating impact this can have on people’s wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of those around them. Are you concerned about your alcohol consumption? I explain how to monitor your drinking and develop healthier habits.

How much am I drinking?

Are you aware of how much alcohol you drink on a weekly basis? Do you know the size and strength of what you drink? Understanding this is the first step towards developing a healthier approach towards alcohol. Sometimes, this information can be found on the bottle or cans of alcohol. If not, you can check out the Department of Health website:
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calculating-alcohol-units/
It is now advised that men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

Is my drinking problematic?

A common misconception is that if you don’t wake up every morning craving an alcoholic drink, you can’t have a drinking problem. However, this is only a sign of a physical dependency on alcohol. Sometimes, people can have a psychological dependency on alcohol which presents itself in other forms, and in some ways, this type of dependency could be even tricker to overcome. If you think this might be the case with you, think about these questions: Do you feel you should cut down on your drinking? Have you been criticised for your drinking? Do you feel guilty or bad about your drinking? Does your drinking have an impact on your work, relationships, or functioning?

Keep a diary

It is all too easy to forget when you’ve had the odd glass of alcohol here and there, so a diary is a helpful resource to help you keep track of your alcohol consumption. I suggest including the following key information: what days of the week you’re drinking; the time of day; your feelings before drinking; how many units you’ve consumed; what was good about drinking and what was not so good about drinking. Looking back over your diary may help you to spot patterns to your drinking.

Set yourself some goals

Setting goals may help you to manage your alcohol consumption. Once you have decided on a goal, ensure that you share that with someone who can keep you accountable for your actions.
Important note – if you are drinking daily, please speak to your GP before making any changes. It can be dangerous to stop drinking suddenly when physically dependent on alcohol.

Practical strategies for cutting down
Try some of these strategies to help cut down on alcohol:
• Make sure that you are well hydrated before your first alcoholic drink.
• Start drinking later on in the day
• Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
• Avoid storing alcohol in the house, or only keep enough in the house that will enable you to drink within your limits.
• Consider switching your drink to one with a lower level of alcohol.

Dealing with the psychological dependence

The psychological dependence on alcohol can be difficult to overcome. From your diary, try to identify what situations, people, thoughts and feelings might trigger an urge to drink. It may be beneficial to avoid these triggers where possible and reintroduce these once you feel more confident in your ability to resist urges to drink. Plan how to deal with triggers that you cannot avoid and ask for help. Try to find alternative ways to celebrate and reward yourself. Look for new interests and activities that don’t involve alcohol. Ensure that you seek help for dealing with any issues that may be underlying your drinking, such as anxiety or depression, as you may find it easier to reduce your drinking once these other issues are resolved.

If you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on 07706 924 550.