In my last blog (July 16th, see under ‘links’ on my website – www.rolandeanderson.ie) I promised to write some suggestions to help people who want to cut back on the amounts they drink or who want to stop drinking altogether or even for a period of time.
Most of the people I see in my professional capacity are ‘problem drinkers’ in the sense that drinking has caused them minor to significant problems and harm. Many of the people I see are dependent on alcohol.
I can never impose sobriety on anyone and would not wish to even if it was possible. Change is only effective if the person (himself/herself) buys fully into it and actually wants to make the lifestyle change. No more than any other journey this one needs to be carefully planned and an experienced guide might be necessary too.
I often recommend that people stop for a period of time, for example 3 months. Many are frightened by this prospect but usually find it much easier that they thought. A relatively short period of time off drink will offer complete clarity to allow a well thought out more long term decision and will obviously serve to reduce any alcohol related harm as well.
The advice from the ‘Specialist’ as to abstinence or reduction comes on foot of a detailed assessment. Sometimes questionnaires are used and clinical judgement/experience comes into play too.
Whatever the decision, there is a fairly comprehensive list of tips (under Tips on the website) to help.
One of the more simple ideas therein is to place alcohol on your non-dominant hand and water on the other one as this can help people to avoid loading up inadvertently when chatting for example. Setting a date for change and telling good friends about your drinking/non-drinking plan prior to a social occasion also work. Problem drinkers need to develop more hobbies/interests and if possible to take up more exercise to widen their social repertoire and improve overall health and wellbeing. In the early days of reduction and especially abstinence there may be mild to severe sugar cravings and people should be aware of this too.
Sadly as per my other blogs it is essential to have a ‘story’ ready as to why alcohol is not taken in the Irish culture as ridiculous pressure is put on people to drink or ‘only have one’ in social settings here.
When change is established people should be encouraged to continue and not become complacent.