By David Joel Miller
Some easy ways to keep your problem drinking under control.
It is not uncommon for a drinker, especially someone new to consuming alcoholic beverages to overdo and experience negative consequences. If you have had a hangover, been stopped for drunk or impaired driving, or ended up in a conflict as a result of your excessive drinking, you may want to try some of these methods to keep your drinking under control.
If after trying these techniques you still are having problems with your alcohol consumption there are some more advanced suggestions at the end of this list.
Set limits and stick to them.
Drinking five or more drinks for a man or four or more for a woman is considered binge drinking. This is the riskiest way of drinking. The damage to the body from excess alcohol consumption is proportionate to the level of alcohol in your bloodstream.
Evan at half these levels, in most places; you can be too compromised to drive and risk an arrest for some form of impaired driving.
The best policy is to limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks on any drinking occasion.
Women if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, that limit should be zero. We know of no safe level of alcohol for a pregnant woman. Sorry ladies.
Do not drink because of negative emotions.
Depressed people who drink alcohol to cheer themselves up, become more depressed. Drinking because you are angry increases the risk you will lose control and act on that anger. Drinking to control anxiety results in more anxiety. Drinking away any problem results in more of that problem.
Do not drink to increase happiness.
If one drink makes you happy two should be better and thirty more so.
The trap here is that if you need the alcohol to make you happy you are already in a risky neighborhood.
Do not drink alcohol when you are thirsty.
Alcoholic beverages do not quench your thirst. Alcohol dehydrates you. Drinking alcohol when thirsty will make your dehydration and thirst worse and result in you craving and drinking more alcohol than you intended.
Do not drink when you are very hungry.
Some people believe that a little wine makes for a better dinner. The risk for many of us who lead busy lives is that we wait too long to eat. The result is that we fill up on alcohol and do not eat the food.
Drinking on an empty stomach increases the risk of overdoing the drinking and losing track of how many you have had.
Avoid drinking in situations where the primary activity is drinking alcohol.
A single glass of champagne at a wedding is not likely to cause most people any problem. One drink at a social party where everyone is planning to get drunk is likely to lead to social pressure to consume more than you had planned on.
Many people can safely have a single drink at an event with a non-drinking purpose. Those very same people who go out with others after work to have a drink are at risk of overdoing. Don’t go to a drinking event and expect to be the one person who drinks in moderation. You may be one of those people who can be at a drinking occasion and not drink. The chances are you are not one of those people if you have read this far into a post on controlling your drinking.
If you have tried all the simple methods of controlling your drinking but still find yourself consuming more than you should, you may be one of those people who has crossed the line between a normal drinker and a person with an alcohol use disorder. You may be a problem drinker.
Characteristic features of Alcohol use disorders include things like, loss of control or drinking more than you intended, increased tolerance, needing more alcohol than before to feel the effects and the development of negative consequences when you drink. Cravings are another warning sign.
If you have an alcohol use disorder of any kind seek help. Counseling and therapy with a professional that understands substance use issues or self-help groups may be able to teach you to live life without the alcohol and avoid the problem of repeatedly trying to control your drinking and not being able to stay sober.
Alcohol use disorders are a group of real illnesses and like many other medical diseases once you have these disorders you are not likely to ever return to being a person without this disease. If you have a drinking problem of any kind please seek help.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page or my Facebook author’s page, David Joel Miller. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.