Seven tips that can help you get off the grog
WE are risking our health by continuing to drink too much alcohol and too often.
More than two standard drinks per day on a regular basis is high risk. One in five of us are at that level of consumption.
Wesley Hospital's Drug and Alcohol Program director, Professor John Saunders, has seven top tips on how to stop.
Identify your motivation to stay dry. Dry July allows for plenty of opportunities to raise money for alcohol-related health problems, such as heart disease and cancer, by getting sponsored by friends and family to abstain from alcohol. If staying away from alcohol is difficult, remind yourself that you are doing it primarily for yourself, but others will benefit.
Keep busy. Opening the wine bottle can often be the result of boredom or an easy way to de-stress. Try to take up activities that do not involve drinking, such as going to the movies, enrolling in painting classes or joining book clubs. You could also think of preparing meals that do not naturally go with alcohol, such as Asian and other spicy food.
Identify your drinking triggers. Whether it is your way of winding down after a hectic day or a way to socialise, recognising what triggers you to drink will help you to avoid them and to stay away from alcohol.
Limit or avoid social situations with a big drinking scene. It is much easier to abstain from alcohol when you are not in the vicinity of other drinkers or where drinks are consistently flowing. Do not feel pressured to accept invitations to events with plenty of drinking. Instead, host a dinner party or encourage meet-ups at restaurants and cafes, instead of bars.
Surround yourself with sober friends. Join groups motivated to stay sober or get friends or family to also take a few weeks off alcohol with you. This will help you avoid the pressure of having to drink. Being around people with the same goal can also improve your mental health, as you are not encountering social pressure to drink. You may also, as a group, seek sponsorship and donations to charities.
Choose alternatives for when you want to drink. When you would normally pop a bottle of champagne, opt for a different type of drink, such as sparkling mineral water or another alcohol-free drink. If you are still socialising regularly, take along a non-alcoholic beer to a party and put it in a stubby holder. That way, the stigma of not drinking will be taken away.
Put your personal spend on drinks towards another financial goal. Get yourself financially motivated by putting aside the money you would normally spend on alcohol. A few drinks here and there won't put a dent in your wallet but spending money on alcohol daily or weekly can add up quickly. When you put pause on drinking, you may be surprised by how much you save.