Do I Drink Too Much – Is It Time to Cut Back on Alcohol, or Even Quit Drinking?

margaritaBy David J Katz –

Do I Drink Too Much? – Choose the solution that’s right for you.

There are many tests out there that will tell you whether they think you drink too much.

But a strong personal indicator is that you are asking yourself if you drink too much. If so, then it’s prime time to take a look at it.

You may wish to cut down and drink alcohol in moderation or you may want to quit drinking altogether.

Moderate alcohol intake can be beneficial. That point is widely agreed.

It can be relaxing. Alcohol in moderation can help you have a healthy heart. It can be a social lubricant and make an event more enjoyable.

A drink or two can complement a meal or a sunset, a picnic or a barbecue.

Or an ice cold beer might just plain taste good after a hard day’s work or a tough bike ride.

But Drinking too much can be worrisome, or even troublesome to the extreme.

If you are uneasy with how much you are drinking, then let’s discuss:

1. Cutting Down on Alcohol

2. Drinking in moderation

3. Quitting drinking

4. Where to go for help or more information

1. Cutting Down on Alcohol

Cutting down on alcohol is a logical goal if you are drinking too much. Some find it easy; just a decision and a turning point.

Some find it more challenging, with emotional stressors or cravings that make it tough to not pour another drink, or walk away from a glass half full.

If it’s not as simple as saying No Thanks, there are various approaches. Among them, you could:

Make it a point when you are out socially, to order a plain soda with a twist more often than a real drink; perhaps an orange juice with ice or a Virgin Mary (a Bloody Mary without the Vodka). It looks like a cocktail, even feels like one, and may help you feel less conspicuous.

Plus, even with just a real drink every few, you will absorb less alcohol, and give your body back the water it is losing when you drink alcohol (four times as much water as you uptake is lost through the diuretic effect of alcohol). And you will be training yourself, and your body, to drink less.

Keep little (or better yet no) alcohol at home; ease the temptation of drinking in isolation, or having that first drink “just for the hell of it”. If you DO keep alcohol at home for visitors, stock the types you don’t like so you won’t reach for them as easily.

If you find yourself reaching for them anyway, this is a strong indication that cutting down on your own could prove too difficult.

Instead of activities that usually involve drinking, like Monday Night Football at the sports bar or Ladies’ Night drink specials, try using the time for something non-alcohol related, like seeing a movie, calling a long-ago friend for a phone conversation, or take to the hobby bench for a few hours.

Don’t socialize with people who encourage you to drink more than you want to. We all want to have an excuse for our behavior when it is not what we intended; remove that obstacle.

Your drinking friends might want to encourage you simply to justify their own drinking habits. Don’t be the enabler for others, and don’t let them enable you.

Put yourself in social situations that do not call for drinking. Go clothes shopping, test-drive the car you’ll buy with the savings from drinking less, take the kids out for a meal, volunteer.

If you feel like drinking for no reason, curb it by taking a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a work out.

If it’s nice out, find a park bench and read a book. If it’s nasty, build a fire, make some tea, and do your reading inside.

Watch a comedy. A good laugh can be surprisingly satisfying.

Phone a friend, for no reason.

Avoid the People Places and Things that encourage you to drink. And know when to say when.

Set your goals and stick to them. If you can’t, then seek help.

2. Drinking in Moderation

Drinking in moderation comes easily to some, others have to be mindful and work at it. Many of the strategies and tactics for cutting down on alcohol apply to drinking in moderation.

First of all, what is Drinking in Moderation?

It depends.

For some people it means having a glass of red wine most nights with dinner, and nothing more.

For others it means three or four beers over the course of a Super Bowl, and otherwise, a drink or two a week sometimes, whatever the occasion calls for; never craving alcohol, or feeling a need to drink.

Yet others find that they can have three or four drinks at a time, but can still take it or leave it, and don’t drink often or with unwavering consistency. And don’t drink to satisfy alcohol cravings.

In some countries like France, Italy and Australia, three or four drinks daily is considered moderate drinking.

In the USA, the common medical wisdom is that one to two drinks a day is moderate alcohol intake for a man – for a woman, one drink per day is considered moderate drinking.

If you have cut back on drinking, and want to stay at the level you’ve achieved, many of the suggestions in the section cutting down on alcohol hold true for moderation.

The most important thing though, is to set strict guidelines for your moderate drinking, and stick to them.

It often helps to let your closest allies, like your spouse or significant other, family members and good friends, know that you want to maintain responsible drinking practices, and just ask them for some low key support.

Ask your partner for example, to gently remind you that you only want two glasses of wine tonight.

If they are unable or unwilling to support your efforts, and instead try to enable you to drink more rather than less, that may be a different issue to address.

Codependency is a difficult dynamic to deal with.

Be clear and firm with yourself on your goals and allow your actions to demonstrate this. Even those who may chide you at first will come to respect you.

And that is a great feeling. Carrying on drinking in moderation, gets easier and more satisfying by the day.

3. Quitting drinking

If you are going to quit drinking entirely, whether it’s for health reasons, economic reasons, your drinking affects your family life, work performance, personal and professional interests, or in some other way impacts you negatively, you might have to make your mind up to quit entirely.

Your mind may even get made up for you, by a judge, a divorce ultimatum, or another dramatic event.

Maybe you’re experiencing blackouts – a very strong marker.

Quitting drinking is usually the path taken when things are bad, and not likely to get better without quitting alcohol. Sometimes it just gets to that point, when other efforts have failed.

Roughly 17 million Americans Abuse alcohol, or suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder. AUD can mean anything from drinking too much, to drinking alone or binge drinking, to uncontrolled alcoholic dependence.

There are other reasons people may quit, but these are the bulk of them and they are usually pretty serious.

4. Where to go for Help or More Information

The traditional methods for quitting drinking are support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Rational Recovery, SOS, and others may work, though by most estimates, success rates are anywhere from 4 to 10%

Individuals share intimately, often in large groups of people as a demonstration of Honesty, Openness and Willingness to engage in Fearless and Thorough path of Spiritual Progress.

Group therapies can be very time intensive: AA urges its newcomers to attend “Ninety Meetings in Ninety Days” as a sort of immersion orientation.

Treatment centers are a bit more intimate, even private in some cases, but can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, with the Celebrity-grade treatment centers sometimes costing $100,000 or more for a stay.

Residential treatment takes at least a month out of the client’s life, and typically calls for lifelong commitment to Group Therapy upon completion.

Even so, national estimates on the success of residential treatment centers for alcohol hover at only 16%.

Then there is a growing body of research that points to the option of stopping drinking at home, with the help of herbal formulas and no detox dangers or side effects.

Documented success rates are astounding , helping those who want to merely cut down and drink moderately but are having trouble, or those who want to quit drinking completely. The most successful home herbal treatment is documented at an84% success rate.

So at the end of the day, or in the morning for that matter, if you’re asking yourself “Do I drink Too Much?” we would like to wish you every success in whatever path you choose, but you must Believe in Yourself.

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