If you believe you’re drinking too much, or
you know alcohol is having a detrimental effect
on your life, this website can help.
You may be shocked to know that 1 in 13 of the British
population is dependent on alcohol (they cannot
get through the day without a drink), and 1 in 4
adults in the UK drinks too much (Alcohol Concern).
Apart from the health issues arising from prolonged,
heavy drinking (heart disease, strokes, cancers,
brain and nerve damage, organ damage), you need
only turn the pages of your daily newspaper to be
reminded that alcohol can create all sorts of other
Alcohol is a drug; the more you drink, the more
tolerant your body becomes to its effects. You need
to be aware of how alcohol can start to control
you, and eventually take over your life. Some people
can control their drinking, while others can’t,
and they become addicted to the drug alcohol. No
one wants or plans to get dependent on alcohol.
Act now before days of meaning to make changes turn
into weeks, or even years. There are no easy answers,
but making changes can help you regain control of
your drinking and your life.
Why do I drink?
A very simple question, which has some very complex answers. It would be wrong to talk about drinking with all its negative points without stating the obvious – drinking responsibly can be a pleasant and fun experience. Having a dependence on alcohol certainly is not: heavy drinkers are more likely to get divorced, or to end up in hospital after a drink-related accident. Even more seriously, they are six times more likely to commit suicide than moderate or non-drinkers.
Remember: alcohol is a drug. It makes you feel relaxed, happy, sociable, and loosens inhibitions. People who enjoy drinking often feel they are more attractive, interesting, and amusing.
Some people feel more powerful, more in control of their life. Many people drink because it helps them forget their problems, relieves their anxiety and stresses for a while. The alcohol makes them feel good so their brain tells them to drink more, and more, and more … Some people feel they are ‘themselves’ when they’ve had a drink; they feel free from their troubles or stresses. Unfortunately these feelings are very temporary, and offer a way of ‘papering over the cracks’. However, alcohol actually makes things worse in the long term. Actions we regret, arguments, even violence, are more likely to occur if alcohol is involved.
For many people who drink heavily, alcohol is the cause of all their problems, yet they believe the problems are an excuse to drink.
Some people want to find a ‘reason’ for their drinking. The ‘reason’ or ‘answer’ why they drink is more likely to be that they are addicted to the drug alcohol and feel they cannot cope with life without it. Drinking has become a way of coping. It becomes a habit. You’ve learnt that drinking releases you from anxiety, social obligation or stress. A pattern of behaviour has become established: you feel stressed, bored, or anxious, so you reach for a drink to help you cope.
Are YOU an alcoholic?
This is not a useful term; most people do not want to be labelled ‘alcoholic’. Those in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) would call themselves alcoholic; by this, they mean their lives have become unmanageable because of alcohol, and they cannot control their drinking. But some people are ‘functioning alcoholics’; they are addicted to alcohol but still hold down a job, and take responsibility for their family and finances. Only you can decide when your drinking is causing too many problems. It may be the moment you realise that you are fed up with feeling low, tired, ill and unproductive, and this is outweighing the positive things you get from alcohol.
You’ll need to admit to yourself that drinking is causing you problems. Do you feel you are drinking to forget about your worries? Alcohol never helped sort out problems, or give any answers.
This book will help you decide on whether to give up alcohol or pursue a strategy of controlled drinking. If you decide to reduce your drinking, you’ll find many useful hints and techniques to help you do so in this book. But let’s be clear: only you can decide what you are able do. Set a goal, write it down, and achieve changes. Many people successfully change, but, as you know, there are no easy answers.
If you drink every day and crave a drink on waking, or shake after a heavy drinking session, you are very likely to be dependent on alcohol. (Task 1 – questionnaire so you can decide if you are physically dependent on alcohol). If you are physically dependent on alcohol you may need a drink just to feel OK. If your drinking has got to this stage, you will probably need professional help to kick the habit. You should not just stop, as the withdrawal symptoms will be severe, and fits could occur. You can have a detox. to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and to help kick the physical dependency. This can sometimes be done at home, providing you have some support from a family member or friend. If you have previously suffered fits when you’ve stopped drinking, you will probably need a detox in a hospital.
So, is there an answer for me?
You need to want to stop drinking, for yourself. Are you fed up with feeling ill, low, and tired? Has life lost its zing? Your energy and interest in other things is low and has been replaced with a preoccupation with alcohol. You used to feel drinking helped you cope. Now, you feel drinking heavily is causing more problems.
Some people stop drinking and their relationships, optimism, prospects, health and sleep patterns all improve. Other people need to make changes to their life so they can cope with life’s challenges without depending on drinking.
Read this book, set your goals, and make the changes happen. Set small goals first if your confidence is low. But do something. Get out of the rut you’re in. (Remember, the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth).
Getting some help and support greatly improves your chances of beating the problem. Family, friends, counselling, AA, group therapy, or attending a relapse management group will help you to stick to your goals.
Giving up drinking is the easy bit, compared with
staying sober. You may need some help and support
if drinking has become a long-term habit. But you
can kick the habit, and this website will show you