Alcohol

5 Mar 2021 admin

DRINKING TOO MUCH? KNOW THE SIGNS AND WHEN TO GET HELP

Have you been drinking too much recently and looking to cut down on your alcohol intake? You are not alone. Many people consume alcohol globally, with 78.2% of Canadians over the age of 15 drinking alcohol at least once in the past year. While some people only drink occasionally and remain within the recommended guidelines, many people go just above the guidelines, which may lead to alcohol consumption-related problems. Even if you never develop an alcohol use disorder, your alcohol consumption level could still pose a problem to your health and general wellbeing.

drinking too much


How can you tell if you are drinking too much?

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA), if you want to drink within the low-risk limits, you should consume no more than

  • Two (2) drinks a day, and ten (10) drinks a week if you are a woman.
  • Three (3) drinks a day, and 15 drinks a week if you are a man.

The reason women have a lower limit is that research has shown that women tend to develop alcohol use disorders at lower consumption levels than men do, with a higher risk of alcohol-related medical conditions. If you are drinking beyond the recommended limits, you may be drinking a little too much.

How to cut back on drinking?

You can never go wrong by reducing your alcohol intake, especially if it’s above the recommended guidelines.

Here are a few tips to help you cut down on your alcohol intake and reduce your risk of alcohol-related problems.

Set a Realistic Goal

Depending on how much alcohol you currently consume, you may have to set realistic goals on how many drinks you want to cut down on. You may start with as little as eliminating one drink per day. Choosing to quit drinking altogether immediately may not be feasible as a relapse may leave you feeling disappointed, helpless, lead to possible withdrawal symptoms, or result in binge drinking. Instead, set weekly or monthly goals to help you cut down on your alcohol intake and build up from there.

Track Your Drinking

If you are cutting down on your alcohol consumption, it would be recommended to track how many drinks you consume. You can record your alcohol consumption using a phone app or a diary. It is not advisable to try to memorize it as you may mix the numbers up or forget. When you reach your limit for the day or week, be disciplined not to have another drink even if you are at an event or social gathering.

Space Your Drinks

You can cut down on your alcohol intake by spacing your drinks with non-alcoholic beverages. These ‘spacers’ could be water, fruit juice, or soda. By spacing your drinks out, you will feel more full by consuming other beverages in between and reduce your overall alcohol intake.

Drink Slowly

If you consume your drinks quickly, especially the first few drinks, you may end up drinking beyond your limit and eventually develop alcohol dependence. To successfully cut down on your drinking, you should practice drinking slowly. Take your drink in small sips over a period of time.

Eat Healthily

Many people have recorded drinking less when they eat while having some drinks. If food also reduces your craving for alcohol, you should eat more around the period you drink. It is also not advisable to eat on an empty stomach. When you are full, you are less likely to drink more, and your body absorbs alcohol more slowly. The types of foods you consume can also help with absorbing alcohol.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water is generally good for metabolic processes in your body, and some people have recorded a low craving for alcohol after drinking water. If you reflexively quench your thirst with alcohol, you may want to replace it with water. A full stomach also craves less alcohol, so you can drink a lot of water throughout your day to stay full.

Adjust Your Lifestyle

A good way to cut down on drinking is to identify your drinking triggers and avoid them. Your drinking triggers could include being alone at home, boredom, stress, or even friends. Many people who have a drinking problem begin as social drinkers. If you tend to drink more in social gatherings, you may want to reduce how often you attend such gatherings or bring beverages with you. If stress is a trigger, you should look into other forms of dealing with stress that doesn’t involve alcohol including exercising, other hobbies, relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to name a few. Generally, it would be best to avoid or manage activities that encourage you to take more alcohol than you need to.

Find a Substitute

If drinking is something you do because you are bored, it will help to get new activities to fill that void. You can join the gym, hang out with family and new friends that support your choice to cut down on your drinking habits, learn how to dance, or pick a new hobby. Sometimes you may even forget to drink when you are having fun.

Get Professional Help

If, after following all the tips above, you still struggle saying no to too many drinks, then it may be the time to seek professional help. You may have developed an alcohol use disorder that may require professional help to overcome. By working with a professional, you can get solutions tailored to your drinking habits. As with most substance use disorders, the best time to seek professional help is as soon as you notice a growing dependency on alcohol. With the right treatment plan, therapy, and support, you can overcome your alcohol use disorder and live your best life. You can speak with a physician who specializes in alcohol abuse, misuse, and addiction about a recovery plan that can get you back in control of your life by booking a virtual appointment at www.mapleaddictioncentres.ca