It is not unusual to enjoy an alcoholic drink with friends etc, but drinking habits can become unhealthy without us noticing.
Long-term heavy drinking or regular binge drinking can result in alcohol dependency, which means you would struggle to go without alcohol and may find it hard not to think about drinking.
Causes of drinking
People drink for a number of reasons. Some of these reasons are due to the short-term effects of alcohol and others are reasons which could lead to alcohol dependency: enjoy the taste; to feel more confident; to relax and unwind, to fit in with friends, e.g. buying a round, drinking games, etc; to forget problems and stressful situations, e.g. work, family, financial worries; when experiencing symptoms of mental health such as depression, anxiety, hearing voices, etc
Effects of long term drinking
You will have an increased risk of the following conditions: being overweight and the associated problems (e.g. diabetes); memory problems; cancer (e.g. liver, bowel, mouth, oesophageal); liver disease; heart disease; pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); injury or death of self or others through risky behaviour, e.g. drink driving, aggressive behaviour, etc; psychosis, e.g. hallucinations and delusions, may result from extremely heavy long term drinking; mental health problems.
Dealing with drinking at home
Exercise: Exercise can provide an outlet to release built up tension and some timeout from the daily stresses of life, which can lead us to drink. It can also improve health which can help counteract some of the effects of alcohol on the body.
Remember the benefits: Write down the reasons you want to stop or cut back and use this to motivate you when things get tough.
Talk to family or friends: Tell your family and friends what you are doing. They may be able to provide support or distractions when you are struggling. – just talking to someone about what you are facing e.g. pressure at work, can often really help in such difficult times and make you feel less isolated.
Self-help books: You may find the following books helpful.
- Recovery from addiction: A practical guide to treatment, and quitting on your own by William Cloud and Robert Granfield
- Overcoming your addictions by Windy Dryden and Walter Matweychuk
- Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening by Robert Meyers and Brenda Wolfe
- 7 tools to beat addiction by Stanton Peele
- Beat the booze: a comprehensive guide to combating drink problems in all walks of life by Edmund & Helen Tirbutt
Further information – alcohol dependency
Contact Drinkline’s free, confidential phone service on 0800 917 8282 for advice and information to help you reduce your drinking.
See www.alcoholconcern.org.uk for information and advice about alcohol.
Feel free to contact us to ask about psychological therapies available at First Psychology Edinburgh that may help with alcoholism and related issues.
Lucy Clark, Senior Clinical Psychologist (Online only)