I have had quite a few clients where drink has been a problem and I am not talking about alcoholism…rather the sort of dependency on drink which shows itself when someone can go all day without a drink, but once they open that bottle of wine they are unable to stop; and because they are drinking pretty much every day, they are having way over the recommended average weekly limit of 14 units… Often it can also make anxiety worse the next day too and/or exacerbate depression… Some of my clients work on this with me (as a health psychologist) successfully, but others can’t manage it and then drop out of therapy.
My closest family members would laugh if they read this blog, as they know I like a drink, but I probably have 3-4 dry days a week and the weeks I drink 20 units are balanced by the weeks I drink only 8. Also I find it more difficult when someone else is pouring/buying, so I have now devised this system when on an evening out I will wear a set number of bracelets and whenever I have a drink I take one off – once my arm is bare I have to stop – simple! This helps, because we all have a limited amount of willpower and sometimes that “muscle” is worn out by the evening, so action planning helps. This is related to the research literature on implementation intentions and devising if-then plans e.g. if there is no alcohol in the house then you will be less likely to drink! etc. etc. For the Psychologists out there, there are a few good articles on alcohol in our monthly magazine, including the low-down on digital interventions which can help some people.
So if you can practice controlled drinking, your mental health and physical health will benefit… Also you are less likely to get to that place where the alcohol controls your life and the only answer would be then to give it all up for good! And I don’t know about you, but on a Friday night in the Summer I am looking forward to that first glass of cold white wine!