Lots of people quit drinking to take part in Dry January every year, and that sort of mass effort can be a supportive environment. But what happens when Dry January ends?
For the take-it-or-leave it drinkers, Dry January might pass with little effort. If you’ve found staying sober to be a challenge, and you’ve been counting down the days until February, now might be the right time to consider your drinking habits.
What are the alcohol limits guideline units?
Alcohol units were introduced as an easier way to keep track of drinking. The idea is that one unit is roughly what an adult can process in one hour, though this might vary from person to person.
The NHS urges drinkers to stay below 14 units of alcohol each week, spreading the units across 3 days or more. Ideally though, we should be having drink-free periods, and limiting our alcohol intake when we do drink. Sometimes easier said than done.
The culture of drinking alcohol
After the Christmas binge it can seem natural to take part in Dry January. Everyone seems to be on a health kick, and there’s sometimes safety in numbers.
It becomes more challenging if your February social events revert to including alcohol, or if you’re in the habit of having a few drinks after a bad day. The units can soon stack up, especially if there’s a lot of pressure to drink in social situations. It’s time to make a plan.
Making a plan to cut down on alcohol
If you want to cut down on your drinking, make a plan for what comes next. After a bad day, what can you do instead of reaching for a drink? When you meet up with friends, does it have to include alcohol? If they’re all still off the wagon, plan what you’re going to drink instead.
It isn’t always going to be easy, but as the advice says, take it one day at a time. The idea of making a huge lifestyle change can be daunting if you’re looking a long way into the future. Instead, just think ‘not today’. It makes the process a bit more manageable.
Who can help me with my drinking?
Firstly, if you’re asking this question – well done. That’s a huge first step to take, but now you’re already on your way. The next step is talking to a health professional about the support that’s available to you, because doing it alone can be more difficult than in a group.
A GP or your pharmacist can point you towards support groups and counselling services, as well as how to make plans to regulate or stop drinking. You won’t be judged or patronised – just encouraged.