Every April the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to increase awareness and understanding of the causes and treatment of the nation’s #1 public health problem: alcoholism. The theme this year is “Changing Attitudes: It’s not a ‘rite of passage.’”
An important part of Alcohol Awareness Month is choosing an Alcohol-Free weekend during the month of April. The intent is for you to stop drinking from Friday through Monday, and then gauge the effect of the alcohol-free days. If your body has become used to the continual presence of alcohol, suddenly stopping can cause physical effects, such as sweating, nausea, headaches and trouble sleeping.
If it is difficult to manage 72 hours without drinking, that struggle could signal a dependence on alcohol that should be more closely examined. If you are having trouble with your three-day alcohol-free test, we urge you to contact your GP to learn more about alcoholism and its early symptoms.
Benefits of cutting down drinking
The immediate effects of cutting down on alochol include:
- feeling better in the mornings
- being less tired during the day
- better looking skin
- feeling more energetic
- better weight management
Long-term benefits include:
There’s a strong link between heavy drinking and depression, and hangovers often make you feel anxious and low. If you already feel anxious or sad, drinking can make this worse, so cutting down may put you in a better mood generally.
Drinking can affect your sleep. Although it can help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you sleeping deeply. So cutting down on alcohol should help you feel more rested when you wake up.
Drinking can affect your judgement and behaviour. You may behave irrationally or aggressively when you’re drunk. Memory loss can be a problem during drinking and in the long term for regular heavy drinkers.
Long-term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can’t be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.
Regular drinking can affect your body’s ability to fight infections. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.
How to Cut Down
Make a plan
Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink.
Set a budget
Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
Let them know
If you let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and it’s important to you, you could get support from them.
Take it a day at a time
Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.
Make it a smaller one
You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
Have a lower-strength drink.
Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You’ll find this information on the bottle.
Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.
Take a break
Have several drink-free days each week.
To read our blog on looking after your mental health when working from home, click here