April is Alcohol Awareness month and so we thought we’d talk a bit about, well, awareness. Unlike, say, fattening desserts – it’s easy to increase your alcohol intake without even realizing it. Gradually eat more chocolate pie and you probably won’t be able to fit into your clothing. Gradually increase the amount of alcohol you drink and you may or may not notice any bodily changes but make no mistake, it, too has an effect.
Unless you morally object to alcohol, not everything about it is “bad”, right? We celebrate milestones with Champagne, cheer on racehorses with Mint Juleps and enjoy sitting around a campfire with friends sipping hot toddies. Moderate, responsible social drinking can be enjoyable and if the experts are right about the tannins found in red wine, even health beneficial.
But alcohol is one of those substances that is very easy to “slip” into. A glass of wine with dinner can easily become two or three, especially when you find yourself under stress and looking for a quick way to relax. And the more alcohol you drink, the more it takes for you to get a “buzz”, sometimes called the “creep up effect.”
What’s the downside of increased alcohol intake? Pragmatically speaking, there are several factors to consider, including:
· Drinking is expensive (you could use that money toward a relaxing vacation!)
· Decreased motivation
On the physical side:
· Empty alcohol calories = weight gain OR decreased appetite which can lead to insufficient nutrient intake
· Foggy thinking
· Sleep interruptions
· Less energy
On the emotional side:
· Feelings of powerlessness
And as far as relationships are concerned, since many people typically drink in the evening, they may also fall asleep on the couch and are consequently uninvolved in the partnership or family, not to mention that under the influence of alcohol, it’s much easier to say things you don’t necessarily mean. If you’ve noticed more frequent tiffs of late with your partner, you might also consider if they happen more often when you’ve been drinking. Is it worth it?
If your drinking has increased, there are several things you can do to get back on track:
· Take a few nights off each week from alcohol. Instead of a cocktail when you get home from work, substitute a soft drink or mineral water with lemon.
· Think portion control for alcoholic drinks just as you would for food intake. Decide in advance how many ounces you’ll allow yourself and stick to it.
· If having alcohol in the house is too tempting for you, remove it and save your social drinking for actual social occasions.
Most importantly, if you believe that your alcohol intake is beyond your control, it’s time to take back your life. Make an appointment with a qualified addiction therapist, who will ensure you get the help that you need.
This article is reprinted from the April 2015 edition of Insights’ free monthly newsletter, Think Tank. If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, please let us know; just click here.