It may or may not surprise you to learn that a 2019 NIH study found 1 in 4 U.S. adults reported having engaged in binge drinking within the past month.
And that was before a global pandemic, civic unrest, and an infinite amount of Zoom happy hour invites began piling up in our inboxes.
If you, like many, have been excessively drinking this past year, you’re not alone. But when you find yourself making up new reasons for drinking in excess, it's worth slowing down and having an honest word with yourself.
If you’re interested in evaluating the drinking habits of you or a loved one, keep reading.
Educate yourself about Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects more than 14 million people in the U.S alone. It is sometimes referred to as alcoholism, alcohol addiction, or alcohol abuse; however, AUD is a serious medical condition that should not be stigmatized. In fact, AUD can range from mild to severe, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) provides a helpful online questionnaire to informally determine if you or a loved one have ever experienced symptoms of AUD. We recommend starting there to learn more about how drinking may be affecting your well being.
Think about your community
If you’re ready to make a change after learning more about alcohol misuse, it is often helpful to identify which relationships will best support you in your decision to scale back or stop drinking. Creating boundaries is often a first step to a lasting change in your habits. Think about your community and see if you can make a list of friends or family members who you can do activities with that don’t involve drinking. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a supportive relationship, you may want to consider reaching out to a social hobby group (think running club) or a dedicated support group like AA or a SMART Recovery Group to begin forming a community that will help you in your decision to stop drinking.
Honestly evaluating your drinking habits often means having challenging or vulnerable conversations with yourself or a loved one. It can be daunting, but part of self-care is giving yourself permission to be sad, angry, relieved — whatever the feeling is — and then taking time to identify and process it. Whenever you decide to make a lifestyle change, it is important to prioritize self-care. This can be as simple as eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and trying to get adequate sleep. Make an appointment with a licensed therapist or keep someone in your supportive community informed of how it’s going. It’s important to distinguish that self-care is not selfish. Remember why you are making this change — because you care about yourself.