CUTTING DOWN – TIPS TO STAY ON TRACK
Worried you may be drinking too much?
If you've scored very high on Drink Checker, don't worry - many people are surprised to see their level of drinking is at the high risk or possibly dependent level. On the other hand, this may not come as a surprise and you may have been worrying about this for some time.
Drinking at this level probably means you may already be experiencing the following:
- Low energy and low mood
- Depression or anxiety
- Insomnia or poor sleep
- Have experienced an accident, injury or near miss as a result of your drinking
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty in remembering what happened last night
Your body is also at much greater risk of liver disease, cancer and alcohol dependence.
If you feel you can't manage without drinking alcohol, you may be experiencing signs of alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is a spectrum and you may go through periods of managing not to drink at all, but then needing to drink a lot. This can happen in cycles, but is a sign you may need some support around your drinking.
What does alcohol dependency mean?
The word 'dependent' is loaded with stigma, as well as feelings of shame. However, if you feel you can't manage without drinking alcohol, your body may be dependent on alcohol and you may feel you can't cope without drinking. Alcohol dependency is simply a physiological and psychological need for alcohol in order to cope or function, ranging from mild to severe.
The majority of dependent drinkers eventually stop drinking - however it is not easy and does not always happen successfully at the first attempt.
Reasons for dependency
There are many reasons why some people find they are dependent on alcohol. Some people have always drunk heavily and simply find that their lives no longer tolerate this. Others may have started drinking more heavily after a significant life event, such as a bereavement, divorce or loss of a job.
Some people may have a history of alcohol dependence in their family. Some may have experienced childhood trauma of some kind and started to drink earlier than usual.
There is no single picture of alcohol dependency - everyone is individual and fortunately with the right support, everyone can recover.
How can counselling help?
If you're drinking heavily you may find that talking to someone helps you to get some perspective, identify choices and help you to cut down or stop.
An alcohol counsellor can help you understand the reasons for your drinking and identify strategies to help you cut down or stop altogether. Counselling is always confidential. An alcohol counsellor can help you:
- Work out whether just cutting down or stopping altogether is better for you
- Build up strategies to cope with strong urges to drink and how to relax and regain control
- Identify the particular locations, thoughts, experiences, people and feellngs that may trigger a desire to drink
- Decide what to tell people about choosing not to drink as much as before / at all
- Understand the signs of relapse, how to avoid it and if you do relpase, how to stop drinking once you've started
- Find out where to go for further support you may need for non-drinking issues
Counselling with an alcohol counsellor is usually weekly for 45 minutes to an hour and is usually for 6-8 weeks but can be longer. It can be face-to-face or over the telephone or via skype.