What kind of drinker are you?
In general “low risk” drinking is no more than 3 drinks a day but not more than 7 per week. “No-risk” drinking is not drinking at all (I guess that is a little obvious).
For healthy people, drinking more than 4 drinks a day or 14 drinks a week is “at-risk” or heavy drinking. For women, it is a bit lower (sorry gals) 3 drinks a day or only 7 per week.
Unfortunately, about 1 in 4 people who over shoot these limits already has alcoholism or alcohol abuse. The other 3 out of 4 have a bigger risk for developing alcohol problems. This is just a very general rule, and of course people can vary.
Good News for “Three out of Four”
If you are a heavy drinker that has not developed alcoholism, you are not doomed. You can cut back your drinking, or not drink at all and prevent alcohol problems, in the future.
That Sounds Hard – What Should I Do?
If you have to be around a social situation with alcohol, be ready to deliver a confident “no thanks” when offered a drink. Go get a water with lime or a soda. Don’t sip a drink, if you are not 100% sure what is in it. Be friendly and respectful, if someone encourages you to drink. The person offering you a drink may not know you are trying to cut down or stop. Consider saying “I’m trying to get healthier” or “my doctor asked me to not drink”.
I have found that most people don’t even pay attention to what I am drinking. The few times, I have had tough pressure to drink, have been from someone with a drinking problem. Normal drinkers could care less.
In addition to being prepared with your “no thanks,” consider these strategies:
Have non-alcoholic drinks always in hand if you’re quitting, or as “drink spacers” between drinks if you’re cutting back
Keep track of every drink if you’re cutting back so you stay within your limits
Ask for support from others to cope with temptation
Plan an escape if the temptation gets too great
Ask others to refrain from pressuring you or drinking in your presence (this can be hard)
If you have successfully refused drink offers before, then recall what worked and build on it.
I think it is too late?
There is a silly old saying “if you were a cucumber that turned into a pickle, then you can never turn back to the cucumber”. If you think it might be too late, read through the following questions. There are lots of alcohol quizzes online, this is my own version.
1. Are people annoyed or critical of your drinking?
2. Would you describe yourself as a normal drinker (you drink about the same as most people).
3. Have you ever woken up and discovered you had forgotten a part of the evening?
4. Can you go to a party and easily consume two drinks?
5. Have you ever had an abnormally big fight when drinking?
6. Have you ever had to talk to a police officer, because of your behavior while drinking?
7.In the last year, have you ever started drinking and found they you had more drinks than you had planned to have?
8. In the last year, have you missed an obligation or over slept because of your drinking?
9. Have you had a feeling of sadness or guilt because of something you did while you were drinking?
10. Is your personality the same after you have had several drinks?
11. Do you enjoy having a drink before you head out to a party or a bar?
12. When you are drinking, do you always remember going asleep?
13. Is your drinking making the people you live with unhappy?
14. Do you ever drink, because you feel shy or awkward around people?
15. Do you ever hang around people, that you previously thought of as “beneath you”?
16. Have you noticed that your goals are not as high as they used to be?
17. When a doctor asks you how much you drink, do you provide an accurate answer?
18. Do you sometimes use alcohol to increase your confidence?
19. Have you stopped drinking for a period of time to prove to someone (or yourself) that you don’t have a drinking problem?
20. Do you look forward to having a drink at a certain time of day?
21. Would you cheerfully attend a party, where no drinks were being served?
22. Can you enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant, without an alcoholic beverage?
23. Do you find that most of your friends are “drinkers”?
24. Has anyone ever commented that you “smell of alcohol” after a night of drinking?
25. Has your reputation ever been affected because of your drinking?
26. Do you frequently leave the room, without finishing your drink?
Advances in alcoholism treatment in recent years have provided more choices for patients and health professionals.