I am going to go straight in with this. Alcohol is a drug (yes, it is). A drug is something you put into your system (take, drink) that effects how you think and feel. And alcohol definitely does that.
It can make you feel relaxed, sleepy, excited, disinhibited, more sociable, loud, aggressive, slur your words, have trouble walking, suffer from incontinence, vomit, have hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, sweating, shaking and the list goes on. It has many effects on the body.
Alcohol is - a colourless volatile flammable liquid which is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars and is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.
If alcohol was re classified today it would be a class A drug up there with heroin and cocaine.
Apart from the obvious serious issues, there are many reasons why alcohol could be a problem for you. It could be health, mental health, work, education, parenting or relationships.
Some people will sail through life without any issues at all with alcohol, whereas others may experience some problems.
These may be binge drinkers: people who drink large amounts in one go or your regular daily drinkers.
But also, people who only drink occasionally and then life hits them with a curve ball so they start drinking more, using it as a way of coping.
Alcohol is physically and psychologically addictive. So, if you drink large amounts daily or in one go you could experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms which can be fatal, sweating, shaking, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, fitting. Click here to find out more about dependency Am I alcohol dependant? This is a fact, please dont believe Allen Carr's the Easyway. Makes my so cross the level of mis information out there.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to have an issue with alcohol to consider taking a break and to gain benefits from it.
In fact, I recommend everyone does it at least once in their lifetime if not more regularly.
It can be all too easy for bad habits to become a regular weekly, then daily thing. Alcohol is everywhere and it appears to be so prevalent in our society, what happens is you think its ok for you to drink every day. It’s a treat, a reward.
Pretty much 90% of the population are doing it, so it must be all right.
There is so much mis information in the media as well, so it’s hard to know what’s true. However this is getting better.
I have specialised within the addictions field for over 15 years. A lot of it working with people with varying degrees of problems with alcohol, from moderate to severe. What I have seen, having worked with 1000’s of people is that it can seriously damage your health and life in so many ways.
So, if you are going to drink at all, one of the first things I suggest you do is educate yourself.
This is really important.
Make an informed choice about what you are putting in your body.
A good website for education on alcohol is https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets
You can also sign up for my free videos which tell you everything you need to know about alcohol. Free alcohol videos
They are quick so if you are busy it’s a good option, without endlessly sifting through the internet.
Also check out Professor David Nutts book Drink its a bit meaty on the old science and facts, but you need the facts.
Once you have educated yourself, then it’s time to figure out how much you drink and how often.
Be aware of your units. Use a unit calculator like this one Drinkaware unit calculator
I want you to think about how it affects you? (be honest)
Is it causing you any issues?
Is it affecting sleep? relationships? finances? work? health? Are just feeling a bit tired and sluggish.
Even if you don’t think it is causing you any issues, you will be amazed by how much better you feel if you take 30 days or even 3 months off.
Like I said before it’s also a really good way to reset your bad habits.
Once you have taken a break, you tend to be more measured and more aware of when, how much and why you are drinking.
After a break you have a much lower tolerance and you have really enjoyed feeling healthy, sleeping well and having more clarity.
So, if you are someone that is considering taking a break it doesn’t matter what the reason is.
I urge you to give it a try.
It’s only a few months, hardly any time at all and what have you go to lose?
But how do I do it I hear you cry:
· Educate yourself: Know how much and when you are drinking.
· If you are drinking a large amount daily or a large amount in one go, check with your GP before embarking on any reduction programme.
· Once you know its ok for you to reduce, you can just stop, or reduce slowly. It’s up to you.
· Plan how you are going to do it.
· Timing is everything, make sure you feel ok about taking a break, inevitably there will be things you have booked in where people will be drinking but that’s part of it. Learning how to socialize without booze is part of the journey and learning.
· Talk to your friends and family, get them on board so they can support you. Even better have you got a friend or partner that wants to do it with you.
· Make sure you get rid of all your alcohol in the house, particularly if you are someone that gets tempted.
· Be nice to yourself.
· Sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise.
· Do something different, ok so don’t stay in and hibernate that’s cheating. If you really must do that in the first week or few weeks, ok. But then you must come out. Try things, get out of your comfort zone if needs be. Join a running group, go to yoga, have coffee with people, go to the cinema, swimming . Do things that don’t require alcohol.
· Go to at least one social event and don’t drink, seriously you must do this. As many as you can really so you learn to socialize without booze. I know I can hear you, “I can do this, don’t be silly of course I can socialize without booze”. But you will be surprised how you feel and astounded by everyone else!
· If you have 1 drink, stop, damage limitation. Don’t go in for the, I have had a slice of cake so I might as well eat the whole damn thing. STOP.
· If you struggle and can’t do it, get help. Because you can do this. Anyone can and you CAN feel better. But if you do 1 week here and there and then you keep slipping up and you feel bad, it causes a problem. I mean really if you have the odd one now and then, that’s not an issue. But if you do drink quite a bit originally, then you struggle to stay stopped and really want to, there are several options depending on how serious the issue is. There are 12 step groups, smart groups, online groups, forums, online programmes, Facebook groups, rehab, free treatment services, sometimes even your GP can be helpful or private specialist therapists. If you go for a private therapist please make sure they have a lot of experience with alcohol and addiction.
If you want to learn more get my Book There is No Magic Button.
Stephanie Chivers is a recognised habit/addiction specialist. To find out more https://www.ichange21.com/