Even Moderate Drinkers Should Beware

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
Light to moderate drinkers do not drink extremely large amounts of alcohol. They do not drink every day. If they stop drinking altogether, they will not suffer major withdrawal symptoms. 

They may have good jobs, families, and self esteem. They or other people may not think they have a drinking problem. Unfortunately, they do have occasional, infrequent drinking episodes that get out of control and they may occasionally drink more than they plan.. 

They have personal strengths and resources to overcome their drinking problem with some guidance. However, if the problem is unchecked, they may become alcohol dependent within few years. 

Here are some tips for their guidance. 

1 Identify "high risk" situations and the "triggers" of drinking . High-risk situations and triggers consist of "Personal States" such as , unpleasant emotions, happy events, physical discomforts, urges, temptations etc., and "Social States, "situations involving other people such as, conflict with others, peer pressure, having a good time with "buddies," partying, etc. 
2 Set a "goal" to reduce alcohol consumption which makes drinking safe and non-hazardous, e.g., "Two drinks or less for three or fewer days per week. " 
3 Set "rules" to guide your drinking, e.g. , "No drinks within three hours of driving or operating any electrical machinery. " Specify all conditions in which you will not drink.
Set rules for drinking for situations in which you are likely to drink heavy, e.g., "Only one drink in one hour and no drink on an empty stomach. "
4 Destroy your credit cards. That could be the most valuable advice for those who burn their cash on alcohol and borrow the essential items for living on their credit cards. 
5 Give yourself a "thinking waiting time," of 15 to 20 minutes, after you decide to take a drink. This would counteract against any impulsive drinking and strengthen self control. 
6 Monitor your emotions before and during drinking, e.g. Are you anxious, angry, depressed, or angry? Find a non-drinking way to dispense that emotion. For example, when you want to celebrate something, treat yourself by going to the movies rather than drinking. 
7 If "slips" occur, take them as a temporary "setback" for self correction, rather than as a "defeat" or a "failure. " Don't say, "I failed, so I might as well blow it." Deal with slips in a matter-of fact way. Find a way to stop it as soon as you can rather than blowing it all away. For example, if you are in a party, and you slip, arrange someone to bring you home or if you are at home and you drink more than you intended, throw away the alcohol and start again on your goal for reduced or no drinking. Learn what you can from the incident. 
8 Identify long-term consequences of alcohol. People impress themselves with immediate effects of alcohol, such as, "I become more relaxed or I can talk and laugh easily with other people." Learn to make instant mental pictures of bankruptcy, loss of job, break-up of the family, and a "sorry" liver to make fun of the immediate benefits of alcohol. 
9 Calculate your risk related to the use of alcohol rather than the attitude, "I haven't got into any big trouble so far. " The risks of DUI and turning up at work with alcohol breath, or operating machinery under the influence need to be weighed against the "gains" of alcohol. 
10 Feeling depressed is often used by people as a reason for drinking. People feel depressed after losing an argument, realizing they should not have said something or shouldn't have lost their temper. It is better to work on that specific cause that depressed you than to go for a drink as a remedy. 
11 Anticipate when problem drinking may occur and take advance action to prevent it from occurring. For example, if I anticipate that Friday evenings, being by myself and feeling lonely triggers my drinking, I can take steps in advance so I don't find myself on Friday evening, doing nothing, feeling lonely, and drinking. 1
2 Eliminate all excuses and justifications for drinking, e.g. "After a day's hard work, I deserve a few drinks. " I need to tell myself, "I deserve something better, such as a hot shower, rest, relaxation, and recreation." 
13. Identify conditions when you don't drink and utilize them against the situations in which you are likely to drink. For example, you are one of the people who don't drink after meals. You are upset about something that happened at work. You anticipate you are likely to drink when you got home. In that case, eat your meal as soon as you go home. 
14 Identify your own strengths and resources in controlling and successfully avoiding drinking. What did you invent in the past to avoid drinking? Use it.

*This is an educational article for general information and not professional advice. Consult a professional for your specific case.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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