Why do we drink alcohol?
It is a long-standing part of our Western culture to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner on a weekend or a cocktail with friends when we are celebrating together. Many of us enjoy the taste of certain alcoholic drinks, the social aspect of drinking together and also the enjoyable sensations that small amounts of alcohol can offer.
However, for others, drinking alcohol is not always for enjoyment: it’s an addiction or a way of coping with or escaping from a current situation. During times of stress, frustration or sadness, it’s quite common to turn to alcohol as a buffer. The effects of alcohol can sometimes temporarily help to numb some of the feelings you are experiencing. However, using alcohol in this way can be very detrimental to your health, your mental state and also to your relationships with people around you.
The NHS describe alcohol misuse as “when you drink in a way that’s harmful, or when you’re dependent on alcohol.” They also recommend “to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, both men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.”
Am I drinking too much alcohol?
For some, it’s hard to notice the transition from enjoying alcohol socially to becoming dependent on it. If you feel that you have recently been increasing the amount of alcohol you are drinking, if you have been drinking alone or if people close to you have expressed their concern, then it might be time to evaluate things.
Perhaps you have suffered a job loss, the death of someone close to you or a difficult break up with a partner. You might feel like you need to drink during the day to get rid of anxiety, stress, or to get rid of the effects of yesterdays alcohol consumption. Again, these are all signs that you might be starting to misuse alcohol.
What are the risks of alcohol misuse?
The short-term or persistent misuse of alcohol can cause a whole host of health issues including vomiting, blood poisoning, seizures, heart disease, stroke, liver damage and cancer.
However, it’s not just the health implications that can have big effects on your life. Alcohol can also dramatically change your state of mind and judgement of situations. As a result, in the short term, it can cause accidents, injuries, violent behaviour, acts that are out of character and loss of possessions. In the longer-term, it can also cause social problems including depression, isolation, a breakdown of relationships, divorce, unemployment and even homelessness.
Getting help for alcohol misuse
If you’re concerned about the amount of alcohol you are drinking, the first step is to talk to someone about it. You could make an appointment to speak with your GP, or you might find it easier initially to talk to a friend or family member. Keep an open mind and realise that you have already got past the hardest part, which is to admit that there is a problem.
Your GP will be able to assess your alcohol intake and offer ways to change your drinking habits. They might discuss complementary therapies such as talking therapy, hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy, which are all extremely helpful for many people.
There are also a number of charities and support groups available throughout the UK that provide support and advice for people with alcohol-related questions or issues. These include:
- Drinkline national alcohol helpline on 0300 123 1110
- Alcohol Change UK
- Alcoholics Anonymous helpline on 0800 9177 650
- Al-Anon Family Groups helpline on 020 7403 0888
How I can help you
I have spent time with many people with addictions and unwanted habits. I offer a range of therapies and treatments from my Harrogate-based studio (or online) including counselling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture and EFT, which have all helped people to work through their alcohol issues, make new, positive habits and regain control of their lives.