4 Tips for Safe Drinking
Happy holidays, everyone! Drinking around the holidays can be enjoyable, but if you’ve had some problems with alcohol in the past (like me), this time of year can be challenging. If you’re thinking about making some changes to how you drink or just want to drink more intentionally, here are four tips for safe drinking to keep mind. Well, okay, they’re not so much “tips” on their own as aspects of drinking to consider when planning to drink.
To check out the blog post I mention in the video, please click here. There are plenty of tips to create a safe drinking plan and drink moderately around the holidays in that post.
Let’s quickly recap a few of the highlights from the video.
Tip #1: Amount
To drink thoughtfully, it’s pretty obvious that we need to limit the amount that we drink. This means capping how many drinks we have when we drink and how many drinks we have overall during the week. If you’ve struggled with alcohol in the past, it’s a good idea to limit how many drinks you’ll have during a given outing before you leave.
For men, minding the amount you drink usually means no more than three drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, it’s no more than two drinks per day and 8 drinks per week.
Amount can be a tough aspect of drinking to be mindful of because problematic drinkers often don’t care how much they drink. What I mean is that when they start drinking, it’s as if someone else comes in and “takes over” so that they feel they have less control over their drinking.
That’s why it’s important to think about our drinking and create a plan for moderate consumption beforehand. A solid plan can help us drink moderate and avoid feelings of shame and guilt that can perpetuate problematic drinking.
That we have feelings about our drinking brings us to the second tip, intent.
Tip #2: Intent
I didn’t start drinking until I was in seminary, oddly enough. I joke that it took going to seminary to get me to start drinking. I drank because I was anxious about how I was doing in school. I was anxious about doing well enough, about being good enough. Drinking would help me feel that anxiety a little less, at least for a time.
Intent is all about that $64,000 question: Why are you drinking? I was drinking to alter my mood. If you’re drinking to alter your mood like I was, it might be time to reconsider your relationship with alcohol and how you consume it. Drinking to change how we feel often leads to harmful drinking.
Do friends or family members give you the stink eye or comment on your drinking? Do they encourage you to drink less? What’s the impact of your drinking on others?
Aside from your drinking’s impact on others, let’s not forget how your drinking impacts you. There’s plenty of research out there about how alcohol affects the body (check out Cyndi Turner’s book for a great chapter on this).
Equally important, however, is how your drinking affects you emotionally and what your drinking is costing you. How does it impact your work, your relationships, your parenting, your friendships, and so on?
I really like what Cyndi has to say about this: If your drinking causes a problem, it is a problem.
Tip #4: Frequency
How often do you drink? If you drink every day or most days of the week, like I used to when I was drinking, it’s much harder to drink in ways that aren’t harmful. That is, drinking every day usually leads to riskier drinking, creating more problems for you and your family.
If you’re thinking about changing your drinking habits, it’s a good idea to be very thoughtful about when you’ll drink, designating certain days for drinking and not drinking other days. Maybe you’ll choose to drink just on Saturdays and Sundays, having a glass of wine at dinner each day. Maybe you’ll create a plan for drinking one day per week and plan out how you’ll drink at holiday gatherings, including the amount that you’ll drink at these gatherings.
If you need help with changing your relationship with alcohol, it might be time to meet with a counselor who can help you create a safe drinking plan so that you can achieve your goals. The holidays are a great time to start making some positive changes or at least get a counselor’s perspective.
If you’re in the Ventura area and you’d like to speak with me, feel free to call or text (805) 256-3497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation. I’d love to connect with you and talk about what’s on your mind.
Whether you’re drinking this holiday season or have chosen not to, I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.