Many people drink alcohol moderately. Health experts agree that moderate drinking, which roughly equates to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women, usually has no health repercussions. In fact, some moderate intake of alcohol could actually be beneficial to your health.
But if you’re drinking heavily or binge drinking, it will only ever negatively impact your health. Heavy drinking generally means you drink more than three alcoholic drinks on any given day whereas binge drinking refers to consuming four or five drinks or more within a two-hour period.
If you drink excessively, you could end up with serious health problems, which include, but are not limited to, certain types of cancer, heart failure, and liver disease.
So, if you’re concerned that you’re drinking too much alcohol, follow these four important steps.
1. Assess How Much Alcohol You’re Drinking
First, find out the maximum amount of alcohol you should be drinking based on your gender and age. You can then determine if you’re drinking too much. To do that, keep a diary of how much you drink each day. You can then understand your drinking patterns and take the right steps to control your behavior.
Each morning, write down how many drinks you had the day before and also who you were with and where you were. By including such information in your records, you can identify whether things like peer pressure and your environment contribute to your excessive drinking.
For instance, you may discover you drink a lot when you are out with friends but drink little when you’re at home by yourself.
2. Come Up with a Plan for Controlled Drinking
Once you have a clear idea of how much you’re drinking and in which situations you drink the most, you can identify whether you have a problem and take steps to either cut down your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether.
If you want to cut down on your drinking so that you’re drinking at healthy levels, follow a plan for controlled drinking. That’s about coming up with your own goals and sticking to them.
For example, you could choose to only drink on weekends or at social events; or you could simply limit your weekly alcohol intake to a certain amount.
You could also come up with a controlled drinking plan for drinking alcohol at home. For example, you could avoid hard alcohol, only drink after heavy meals, or limit your alcohol purchases.
And whether you’re at home or out with your friends, you could always switch to non-alcoholic drinks. These days, you can find some fine non-alcoholic beers and other beverages, or alcoholic drinks with low levels of alcohol, on the market that taste just as good as their alcoholic counterparts.
3. Seek Help
If you discover you’re drinking excessively and you cannot control your drinking, it’s time to seek help from your doctor. He or she can help you explore your options and determine whether drinking in moderation or giving up alcohol is the best solution.
Your doctor will be able to put you in touch with groups and organizations that can help you in your new lifestyle.
For example, you could attend an intensive outpatient program to uncover the underlying issues that have led you to your alcohol addiction and get assistance to help you cut down or stop your drinking. For instance, you could engage with CBT and DBT to help identify unhealthy behavior and thought patterns.
4. Adopt Healthy Alternatives
Whether you get professional help or not, once you have identified you have a problem and proactively want to cut down or stop drinking alcohol, it’s a very good idea to replace your drinking habits with more positive activities.
For example, you could practice yoga, go for long walks, or join a book club.