We have all been there, a few too many happy-hour invites during the week, then brunch plans, then a good game on Sunday can quickly mean your normal, moderate number of drinks for the week goes up to a cringe-worthy number. And most of us have that ‘fun’ friend who when you head for the exit pipes up with, “Oh come on, one more, you’re ubering anyway!” How do we maintain our moderation in the face of social pressure and the need to blow off steam?
A recent uptick in the number of millennials engaging in sort-of sobriety for “Dry January” and “Sober October” as well as a number of new books on the topic suggests it’s a common question: Should I just stop drinking?
It is a good thing to evaluate your drinking and engage in some self-reflection if you see those numbers increase. Unfortunately, there is some stigma around admitting that alcohol or other recreational substances are a problem for you, but the more honest you can get with yourself, the safer you will be when it comes to how you choose to enjoy them. Also, sometimes your reflection about substances can trigger others who may not want to reflect on their usage.
One indicator of having problematic drinking is if you have felt the need to cut back and were unable to do so. This makes Dry January the perfect test-drive of sobriety, if you try to commit and cannot do it, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional. If you are able to complete it with just a few aggravations or awkward “just seltzer please” moments, that is a good indicator that you do not have a bigger issue from an addictions perspective.
Time away from libations can also be a great time to reclaim lost hobbies that cocktails may have crowded out. Take that #SundayFunday time to go kayaking, golfing, painting, or baking. You can also explore activities you have been wanting to try out but hadn’t found the time before.
Breaks from alcohol are certainly healthy for your body, but also for friendships and relationships. Connecting with friends and loved ones on a deeper level can be easier to do without the fog of drinks in the way. You might find that some individuals are triggered by your evaluation of your drinking habits, because some of them may not be ready to examine their own. Be gentle, and non-judgmental of friends like these, but allow yourself to be firm about the boundaries you want to place on alcohol.
There are lots of ways to have a healthier relationship to alcohol, visit this resource for more options and information: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov
If you are struggling with a bigger issue with alcohol, some signs can be; social or legal ramifications, drinking more and over longer periods of time than intended, blackouts, medical consequences, and withdrawal symptoms. If you see that any of these are a problem for you, get free, confidential assistance by calling the Florida Department of Health Substance Abuse Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP or seeking out an addictions or mental health professional.