Everyone knows that too much alcohol is bad for you, but you don’t have to be a full-blown alcoholic to have a troublesome relationship with the bottle. Even moderate drinkers can find themselves becoming psychologically dependent on alcohol, if not physically addicted, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and to understand how and when you should try to cut back.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
Most governments issue alcohol limit guidelines, but many people pay little attention to them, or feel that they are too low. However, considering the formal guidelines is a good place to start if you suspect that you might be drinking too much.
If you regularly exceed the guidelines, then it’s time to start asking yourself some questions.
- • Do you drink every day of the week?
- • Are your friends or relatives concerned about your alcohol intake?
- • Do you catch yourself thinking about your next drink during the day?
- • Do you ever drink alcohol in the mornings?
- • Do you find it hard to relax or focus if you’re not sure you’ll have a drink later?
- • Have you ever been shocked at how much alcohol you get through in a week?
- • Do you spend money on alcohol you cannot really afford?
- • Do you ever drink alone?
- • Do you ever fail to carry out your responsibilities due to alcohol?
If your honest answer to all of the above is no, then you probably don’t have much of a problem. If, however, you answer yes to one or more, then it’s definitely time to think about cutting back on your alcohol use.
Tips for Cutting Back on Your Alcohol Consumption
1. Keep a Drinks Diary
For one week, resolve to write down every alcoholic drink you have, the time and the circumstances. This has several benefits. For a start, it will show you the honest picture if you have been in denial about your drinking. Secondly, it will help you to identify triggers—for instance, whether you only over-drink when with particular friends.
2. Let People Know
Tell your friends and family that you are trying to cut back on your drinking. Ask for their support and encouragement—it will be much easier for you if they understand your concerns and are on board with your efforts.
3. Take One Day at a Time
Cutting back on your alcohol consumption is an ongoing process. At this stage, don’t set yourself impossible targets, or beat yourself up if you drink more than you intended to. Try instead to work out why, and to learn from that as you go forwards. Be kind to yourself, and take it one day at a time. There’s always tomorrow.
4. Try to Designate Some Alcohol Free Days Each Week
Evidence suggests that having one or more completely alcohol free days in a week is an excellent way to cut back on your consumption. The more you drink the more tolerance you build up – alcohol free days help to re-set this tolerance, which will not only help your physical health but will help prevent you spiralling into physical addiction.
5. Set an Alcohol Budget for the Week
Put aside a given amount of money to spend on drinks during the week—and once it’s gone, it’s gone. This can be an excellent way to control your drinking, especially if you can’t really afford your habit. It will also make you feel guilty if you go over that limit, which in these circumstances is no bad thing.
6. Focus on the Health Benefits
Cut down on your drinking even slightly and you should quickly start to see some health benefits. For example, you will sleep better. Even if you fall asleep quickly after drinking, your sleep pattern will be disrupted; cutting down means you will feel better rested. You may also start to lose weight, as alcohol provides so many empty calories which you are no longer consuming.
You may find that your mood improves, and that depression starts to lift. Being in control of your drinking is an empowering feeling—if you can successfully cut down a little, you will eventually be in a much stronger position to cut down further or to eliminate alcohol from your life altogether.
If you find yourself in need of alcohol treatment, please do not hesitate to check yourself into an alcohol rehab.