Sometimes people drink alcohol to deal with or forget about problems. However, alcohol can make it harder for us to cope with day to day stresses.
Drinking too much alcohol can contribute to memory loss, sleep difficulties and many serious health problems. Too much alcohol can damage your health and won't help deal with the cause of your worries. Just the opposite –you will probably feel worse when the alcohol wears off.
Alcohol is a depressant and overdoing it can increase anxiety and lead to depression. It is also important to be aware of the effects of mixing alcohol with medication, unless your G.P. or pharmacist have told you it is safe to do so.
It is best to drink only in moderation and to avoid binge-drinking. For the average Irish drinker, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink will have a positive impact on your health and mental wellbeing. Some people may find that choosing not to drink alcohol is the best option for them.
Drink less tips
- Keep track of what you’re drinking Setting a limit to how much you plan on consuming over the course of the day or night is a great way to keep track of what you’re drinking. If you know you’re only going to have two drinks and then stop, you’re more likely to drink slowly.
The average body metabolises one standard alcoholic drink per hour – so that could be your guide, but remember a standard drink might be smaller than you think. A half pint of lager is one standard drink, for example, as is 100ml of wine. Low risk drinking limits for a week are 11 standard drinks for women and 17 for men. It’s important to also spread out your drinking over the week with some alcohol-free days. There are lots of alcohol-free activities that you could do such as heading to the cinema, hiking or bowling.
- Have a reason ready why you’re not drinking While you don’t need to give anyone a reason why you’re not drinking, or drinking less, sometimes it helps to have one in your back pocket anyway, especially if you don’t want to drink at all. There’s no better reason not to drink than that you’re the designated driver. Not only will you have a valid excuse for not drinking, you’ll score brownie points with any friends and family who you give a lift to. And who doesn’t want to have everyone in their debt?
Other valid reasons to pace yourself, or not be drinking at all could be that you have a match the next day or you have to be up early in the morning.
- Keep an eye on your glass If you’re at an event where the wine is flowing it can be hard to keep track of how much you’ve had if your glass keeps getting ‘topped up‘. You’ll be able to keep a much better eye on what you’ve already had if you can count the glasses, so try and avoid getting topped up by keeping an eye on your glass.
There are a number of apps that you can uses to calculate your blood alcohol based on your height, weight and how many drinks you’ve had – this one will send you alerts when you’ve exceeded a limit you set.
- Stay away from roundsGetting involved in rounds is a really easy way to drink more than you intended. Chances are you’ll have to keep pace with someone who’s drinking faster than you and you’ll feel obliged to keep up. Staying out of rounds will mean you can drink at your own speed and be in charge of your own alcohol consumption. At the very least, if you do get caught in a round, remember you can always opt out if they’re drinking too fast.
- Put down your drink If you’re chatting away to your friend with a drink in hand you can be sipping it steadily without even realising how much you’re doing it. Putting it down on the table means you’ll have to reach for it every time you want to take a sip and you’ll be more conscious of how much you’re drinking.
- Distract yourself Another great way to limit your drinking is to do something other than drink. Depending on the event you could play a game of pool, have a dance or just have a chat with someone.
The benefits of drinking less alcohol
How much am I drinking?
Drugs.ie provides a range of tips and tools to help you measure your alcohol intake and, if necessary, drink less. You can access the online tools here.
If you are worried about how much you drink, there is support available. Talk to your G.P. or visit www.drugs.ie for more information and listings of alcohol and drug services nationwide.