Are you worried about your drinking? Often that is the first sign that a problem may be developing. You may wake up more often than you would like with a hangover, telling yourself you will have a few nights off then finding yourself reaching for a drink that same evening.
Alcohol dependency is on the increase, exacerbated by the pandemic. As we tentatively move back to some kind of normality you may be thinking about doing something about your drinking. Whether this is stopping completely, taking a break or cutting down, hypnotherapy can help.
You may feel unable to relax, switch off or enjoy yourself without a drink. For some it may be that you feel like you simply cannot function at all without drinking, it may have become the most important, factor in your life. Perhaps that occasional glass of wine in the evening has become a regular bottle. Perhaps a few drinks with friends always ends up being a binge.
Identifying that you have a problem means realising that it isn’t about drinking every single day, or binging a few times a week. If you are regularly drinking to unwind, relax or cope with particularly stressful situations - you are likely to have at least a degree of alcohol dependency.
You may not notice the transition between alcohol as a normal part of your social life to shaping your whole life and the choices you make. For many, it is a gradual change. Drinking alcohol may seem like nothing - a normal part of your life - and you may not think it’s a problem at first, but over time, relying on alcohol as a way of emotional support will become second nature to you.
Though the various lockdowns and stress of the pandemic has made this more relevant for many people. It can begin to negatively impact your life in many different ways, harming your mind, body, and relationships. Over time, it can affect those around you too.
The causes of alcohol issues can vary. I have worked with many clients to help them better manage their relationship with alcohol. Every single person has a different relationship and unique situation. However, a common theme is a lack of control. Often the problem can arise from using drink as a way to cope with significant events such as bereavement or redundancy, or as a way to numb day-to-day stresses, anxiety or worries. When you immediately turn to drink instead of other ways of dealing with a situation, it is a cause for concern.
If you’re worried about your drinking it should act as a warning sign in itself. Those who don’t have a drinking problem don’t worry if they do. If you wake up in the mornings and feel a sense of remorse over how much you drank the night before, then that’s a problem. There are other indicators that it may be time to do something about your drinking.
Setting goals and failing to achieve them. You may set limits that you never meet. Perhaps you recognize that you seem to get drunk quickly, or that you’re drinking every night, and you think that you’ll stop after two, or that you won’t drink at all. One thing leads to another, however and you end up going to bed again after one too many.
Friends & family comment on your drinking. You may have a reputation based on the amount of alcohol you can consume — and while some consider that a badge of honour, it’s also a warning sign. Perhaps close friends or family members have commented directly on your drinking It could be done in a lighthearted way, but perhaps it is a real cause for concern. Those close to us care deeply and want us t be happy and healthy, we should listen.
Craving a drink. You may not have the shakes or an overwhelming urge to drink every minute of the day, but you may well have a romanticized notion of a drink at the end of each day. Having a drink to unwind is not a bad thing, but if the only thing getting you through the day is the thought of that evening drink, it could be a sign of a problem on the horizon.
You get defensive. If someone suggests that you might want to take it easy, or take a break entirely, and your immediate reaction is to feel insulted, why would that be? Could it perhaps be that they are a bit too close to the bone,
The thought of not drinking induces panic. Is there a fluttering of panic over the idea of stopping drinking? Does the idea seem scary? Or is it even impossible to contemplate?
Impact on your health and well-being. Perhaps your has suggested you cut back on your drinking. Perhaps you feel more lethargic than you used to, or look more tired. Drinking too much will impact your general health and wellbeing.
Drinking as a coping mechanism. If you have a stressful day at work or get some bad news and your immediate reaction is to have a drink then that could be a warning sign. Conversely, if you have a really good day, get some good news, and your immediate reaction is to have a drink, that is another warning sign. And if both then alcohol may be playing a bigger role in your life than it should.
Alcohol has become the centre of your social life. Do most of your social activities take place in pubs or bars? Are you usually the one encouraging others to have another round, or stay until last orders? Do most of your photos on social media feature you with a drink in your hand? Are you less interested in being a part of any activity or event where you can’t drink? Perhaps you placing an unhealthy sense of importance on alcohol.
Overall when you immediately turn to drink instead of other ways of dealing with a situation, it is a cause for concern. Reducing the amount you drink has so many benefits - mentally, physically, and financially. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Hypnotherapy can help you understand underlying issues and focus on a future where you can manage your drinking or cut it out completely. There are other practical steps you can take to regain control of your drinking.
Try and reduce the amount you drink in the week, have two alcohol-free days a week, or weekend-only drinking.
Track your drinking. Drinkaware has a really useful tool that allows you to track your progress, find support, and celebrate achievements.
Limit temptation. It’s OK to say no to social events if you’re not ready.
Try alternatives. Consider mocktails or alcohol-free occasions with friends.
Find alternative forms of stress relief. Try going for a walk, reading, meditating, etc. Something you previously enjoyed that you may not have done in a while. Use this as a way to relieve stress rather than having a drink.
Talk about it. Don’t keep your concerns to yourself. You’ll be surprised at how impactful it can be to open up. This could be with friends or family or with a professional.
There are a number of charities and support groups that may be helpful, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Drinkline, a free confidential helpline (0300 123 1110). You can also use the NHS website to find local alcohol addiction services.
To find out how hypnotherapy can help, get in touch.
Malcolm Struthers Hypnotherapy - Online and in-person in Dumfries & Galloway