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How do I know if I am drinking too much?


The recent pandemic, financial stress, wanting to escape reality for a night, peer pressure and social norms are all some reasons why people may be indulging in alcohol at higher rates than in the past.


Did you know?

According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is considered a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions. Worldwide, 5.3% of all deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. In addition to health issues, the harmful use of alcohol not only affects individuals but brings substantial social and economic losses to society as a whole.


When considering how much they drink, most people actually underestimate the number of alcoholic beverages they consume within a week. The fact that standard drink sizes have changed over the years does not help. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction has created a handy guide to help you accurately assess your drinking. How much do you drink?





How much is too much?

It is important however not to get fixated on believing that surpassing a certain number of drinks is what makes it problematic. When exploring your drinking habits, you need to think about it in terms of how your drinking is affecting your daily life.


Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is your drinking causing conflict in your relationships? Is your drinking creating financial difficulties for you?

  • Are you missing work because you are too sick or hungover after a night out?

  • Is your drinking affecting your health (memory issues, blacking out etc.)?

  • Do you behave in ways that may have serious consequences for you when you drink (promiscuous, violent, depressed)?

  • Is your drinking causing you to think differently about yourself?

  • Are you neglecting some of your responsibilities because of your drinking (parenting, homework etc.)?

  • Could you stop drinking for a day, a week, or a month?


Want to learn more? Book a free 15-minute consultation with us now!


Dr. Gabor Maté, a prominent advocate and clinician in the addictions field, defines addiction as, “any behavior that a person finds temporary pleasure or relief in and therefore craves, suffers negative consequences from, and has trouble giving up”.





The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power: Gabor Maté at TEDxRio+20

This definition is significant because it outlines the fact that often drinking starts because we see it as having many short-term positives (fun, decrease in social inhibitions, relief from negative emotions).


Unfortunately, if we do not monitor our use regularly, it can quickly escalate, and we begin to justify more and more use despite the fact that the long-term consequences begin to outweigh those initial short-term positives.



How can you decrease your use?

Firstly, it is important to consult your medical practitioner if cutting back significantly on your alcohol intake as quick withdrawal can have health risks.


Start small, cut one drink out of your daily routine and once you are comfortable with that step increase to cutting out additional drinks in days and weeks to come.


Set limits for yourself. Before a night out, decide how many drinks you want to have and share this number with your friends to help keep you accountable. Try to add a few alcohol-free days every week and slowly increase the number of these.


Track your drinks, there are many apps available for mobile devices now that can help you keep track such as the DrinkControl: Alcohol Tracker available in the Apple store.


Learn to identify and manage your triggers. If you realize that certain people, places or feelings lead you to drink more you may want to avoid these or seek help to work through them.


How much is too much?

It is important however not to get fixated on believing that surpassing a certain number of drinks is what makes it problematic. When exploring your drinking habits, you need to think about it in terms of how your drinking is affecting your daily life.


Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is your drinking causing conflict in your relationships? Is your drinking creating financial difficulties for you? Are you missing work because you are too sick or hungover after a night out?

  • Is your drinking affecting your health (memory issues, blacking out etc.)?

  • Do you behave in ways that may have serious consequences for you when you drink (promiscuous, violent, depressed)?

  • Is your drinking causing you to think differently about yourself?

  • Are you neglecting some of your responsibilities because of your drinking (parenting, homework etc.)?

  • Could you stop drinking for a day, a week, or a month?

  • Learn to identify and manage your triggers. If you realize that certain people, places or feelings lead you to drink more you may want to avoid these or seek help to work through them.


When should you seek help?

You should get help if you realize that alcohol is a problem for you which is the first step in getting help.


Other signs that you may need help with your drinking is if:


  • people are telling you that you are drinking too much

  • you feel you need to have a drink

  • you are seeing now that your drinking is causing you problems and getting you into trouble.

How Can Therapy Help?

A therapist can help you deal with the problem of drinking in many ways. They can help you work through your current drinking pattern and help you identify whether it is problematic for you. They can help you pinpoint triggers such as harmful relationships, places, and associations that lead to cravings to drink. They can also help you find resources in your community that can support you in your attempt to cut down or eliminate your drinking.


If someone you love is struggling with a problem drinking a therapist can also help you to navigate available resources and figure out how best to communicate your concerns to your loved one.



If you would like to learn more about this topic consider booking a free 15-minute consultation with Josée now!

 

About the Author:

Josée is a qualifying psychotherapist currently working virtually at Your Story Counselling Services, a private practice clinic in Vaughan Ontario servicing individuals, couples, and families across the Greater Toronto Area. Psychotherapy is her second career having worked over twenty years in the correctional system with many individuals struggling with substance abuse. Josée is passionate about helping people be the best version of themselves they can be and strives to help clients to achieve this.


More about Josée


book a free 15-minute consultation with Josée now


Terms and Conditions of Use:

The information provided in this article is intended to be general knowledge and does not constitute as professional advice or treatment. Please do not share or distribute this article without the proper referencing or written/verbal consent of Josée Houde.

Additional information can be found at

www.yourstorycounselling.com or requested via info@yourstorycounselling.com



Resources:

https://www.ccsa.ca/alcohol


https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2021-09/CCSA-Lower- Risk-Drinking-Guidelines-Summary-Findings-Public-Consultation- 2021-en_0.pdf


https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019 -08/CCSA-Knowing-

Your-Limits-with-Alcohol-Guide-2019-en_0.pdf


https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol


https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/11-ways-to- curb-your-drinking


https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2020-07/2012-Canada- Low-Risk-Alcohol-Drinking-Guidelines-Brochure-en_0.pdf


https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019 -08/CCSA-Knowing-

Your-Limits-with-Alcohol-Guide-2019-en_0.pdf

 

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