Have your drinking habits become problematic?

As the end of the year approaches and we head into what is known as the silly season – it might be time to take stock of your drinking habits.

Alcohol changes the way both your brain and your body works as consuming alcohol changes the balance of chemicals that help your brain to think, feel and act.

Alcohol use can leave you feeling relaxed, calm, less inhibited and stress-free, but it can also lead to feeling anxious, agitated, panicked, flat, and moody.

Consuming alcohol can affect the way you think, make decisions and behave – both in the short and long term.
There is a risk that while intoxicated you might act in ways that are out of character and that you later regret – you might act aggressively, take risks or hurt self/others.

Excessive alcohol use can also affect your relationships with friends and family, cause potential problems for you at work/home, as well as the significant health complications associated with chronic use.

What are your drinking habits like?

Sometimes it can be hard to see how alcohol is affecting you until you reflect and think about your habits:
How often are you using alcohol?

* How often are you using alcohol?
* Do you crave and constantly think about having a drink?
* Can you have a good time without thinking that you need alcohol?
* Do you use alcohol to get away from something in your life?
* Have you noticed a change in your energy levels and/or your mood?
* Are your friends or family asking you to take it easy with your drinking?
* Are you having trouble sleeping?
* Are you experiencing blackouts?
* Do you regret the choices you’ve made whilst being intoxicated?
* Have your drinking habits shifted from: instead of drinking to make yourself feel good, drinking to avoid feeling bad?

If you have noticed a change in how you feel and cope, it’s important to consider why.

There could be a range of reasons, but if you are using alcohol (or drugs), they could be affecting you more than you realise.

You might want to consider changing your alcohol habits.

The following website (from Western Australia) can help with an online risk tool to determine if your drinking habits may have become problematic Alcohol Think Again and also provides some useful information regarding alcohol use.
If you’re not sure about what’s safe when it comes to drinking alcohol – consult the following Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol Australian Guidelines – Drinking Alcohol.

Time for change?

If you think your drinking habits need to change, Beyond Blue has a great fact sheet Drugs, Alcohol and Mental Health with the following advice:

* Read online information about changing habits so you know what to expect.
* Build in some alcohol and/ or drug free days in your week.
* Let your friends know you are trying to cut down and ask for their support.
* Leave a party early or decide not to go to parties where there is a risk you might use too much.
* Do things that take your focus away from drugs or alcohol – dance, music, games, art, sing or bike ride.
* Make it difficult to access alcohol.
* Try exercise, meditation or doing things you enjoy to tackle stress and anxiety rather than using drugs or alcohol.
* Look after your physical health by eating well, drinking water and exercising regularly.
* Ask a counsellor, doctor or health professional to support you as you try to change your habits.
* If you feel you need additional support, join a self-help group.
* Remind yourself that changing habits takes time and that it’s normal to stumble along t

Most importantly if you feel like you need more support, at Attuned we have practitioners who offer therapy to support you in creating change. If you would like to change your drinking habits and just want someone to talk with, set goals, explore how to cope when you feel like using alcohol or improve your health/well-being, you can make an appointment to discuss your concerns and get help from one of our Psychologists.

John Pertl

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