An Easy Way To Reduce Your Alcohol Intake – Part 2by Dr Emma Gray - 6th May, 2018
In the first part of this blog we looked at how to reduce the amount of alcohol you are drinking, now let’s look at how to make those changes last.
If you have found that you are drinking because you NEED to and you have decided to reduce your intake it is important to find another way of coping with whatever is ‘driving you to drink’ otherwise you will find that you won’t be able to keep the changes that you make going.
Follows this 2 step approach to help you find a healthier way of coping with your stresses and strains and keep your drinking under control.
1. Work out what is making you drink
What we do (our behaviour) is determined by how we feel and how we feel is determined by how we think. Alcohol tends to soften or numb our thoughts and feeling, this is why so many of us use it to ‘relax’. So as you start to reduce the amount that you drink you will become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Step 1 therefore is to start keep a diary.
Using a rating scale of 0-10, whenever you feel a negative emotion (e.g. anger, anxiety, sadness or loneliness) over 5-6 on the scale, note down the feeling and it’s strength, what has happened just before you noticed the feeling (the event) and then try and identify what you were thinking. For example:
Feeling = Anxiety 7/10
Event = Made a mistake at work
Thought = “If anyone finds out I will get fired”
Feeling = Sad and lonely 8/10
Event = Long day alone with the children
Thought = “I can’t cope, I am a useless parent”
Keep these records over the course of a few weeks until you start to notice a pattern.
2. The next step is to use the information you have collected to take some action. If the problem is external (e.g. poor work environment, lack of support with the children) get support from friends and family to work out what changes need to be made and then make them. If the problem is internal (e.g. self-criticism) try either some self-help or get some professional help to build your self- esteem and confidence (see recommended resources below). Low self-esteem and confidence is strongly related to alcohol dependency so strengthening these will protect you against future problems with your drinking.