Tips for Cutting-back on Post Pandemic Alcohol Consumption
The following advice is general in nature and not intended to treat Alcoholism. Please see below for more information.*
If you’ve noticed that your alcohol consumption has crept up, you’re not alone. Many people turned to drinking to cope with the stress, anxiety and loss we experienced during the pandemic. One study, which included Australian participants found that 36% of people increased the amount they routinely drink during the pandemic. While binge drinking frequency was not greatly modified 43% of the survey participants reported an increase in the frequency of drinking. Not all of us have gotten back to “normal” quickly or easily so here are a few suggestions to support you in curbing your appetite.
Reflect on WHY you Drink.
My go-to question is “what is the substance a replacement for?” Ie. Those 2 glasses of red when you get in the door and make a start on dinner for hungry children might be a replacement for me-time or pleasure. The smoke you seem to crave after the work week is done and the kids are asleep may be a replacement for decompression time and remind you of your twenties when you had no responsibilities. Address what is missing in your environment with a more suitable solution and the need for the substance can diminish.
Studies have found that when lab rats were given a fun environment and connection to others they abstained from drugs.
One study Venniro, M., Zhang, M., Caprioli, D., et al. "Volitional social interaction prevents drug addiction in rat models." Concluded that rats preferred social interaction with a peer to Heroin or Methamphetamine.
Similarly, in Dr. Bruce Alexander’s experiments, in the 1970s, dubbed the “Rat Park.” Researchers put rats in “rat parks,” where they were among others and free to roam and play, socialize and have sex. They were also given the same access to Heroin and cocaine laced bottles. When inhabiting a “rat park,” they remarkably preferred the plain water. Even when they did drink from the drug-filled bottle, they did so intermittently, not obsessively, and never overdosed. In these instances a social community beat the power of drugs. Take steps to improve your environment and relationships. Looking for rituals such as a regular men’s circle, weekly classes, volunteering, monthly breakfast with the girls, Family Friday's or Group training sessions are a way to make new friends, forge closer relationships while automating your connection as a way to keep the cup full.
Track your Drinking.
The simple act of being aware of your consumption encourages decrease. It may even reveal other facts such as which alcohols or how much causes you to experience symptoms like hangover, nasal congestion, skin rashes and sleep disruption. There are a variety of tracker apps available for your phone.
Disconnect the Emotional Attachment you Have to Alcohol.
You know how people say you shouldn’t eat in front of the TV because then you associate TV with food and you crave food each time you watch TV after you form the habit? And, you know how you smell a specific smell and it takes you right back to an old memory? We involuntarily associate certain chemicals, environmental triggers, emotional states and behaviours with one another when we are exposed to two or more at the same time. If you get used to drinking when you’re overwhelmed, you’ll crave a drink when you’re overwhelmed. If you get used to drinking in social situations, you’ll associate alcohol with socialising. Breaking the habit can help, I also have a nifty balance that uses Chiro and TCM points.
Replace, Don’t Deplete.
Substituting one habit for another may get a bad rap, but considering alcohol is a leading cause of death I’m comfortable suggesting swapping it out for another healthier addiction like yoga.
Look at the above reflections on what booze is a replacement for to get ideas on what would serve you. You might also think about pleasant non alcoholic drinks to enjoy and stock up. If it's something you would look forward to drinking, the substitution is a lot more successful. Treat yourself to that bougie tea or take the time to prepare a delicious mocktail. You’re probably still below par from an expense and calories perspective when you compare it to alcohol.
Get an Accountability Buddy.
Whether it’s someone who has the same goal, a fitness coach, a group like AA or your spouse, we do better with a support network. One caveat is that we aren’t motivated to avoid negative consequences, so rather than shaming you if you slip, the buddy should, be accepting, help you track progress, celebrate even modest changes, help you to figure out why you err and how you could do better, and be responsible for doling out your reward when you meet your objective.
Save drinking for certain special days of the week, or events. Double your mixer to spirits ratio, dilute wine and champagne with spritzer or juice or drink one full glass of water between each drink. Politely ask that well-meaning friend not to automatically top you up when you’re empty.
Do Things to Optimise Your Blood Sugar Balance.
When you are following consistent healthy habits your blood sugar is more stable, which in turn minimises cravings for booze, sugar and stimulants.
Get enough quality sleep, drink 1lt water for every 30kg body weight per day. Eat low-GI carbs and protein while limiting sugar and caffeine consumption. When we are out of balance we may need to do a blood sugar reset. Abstaining from carbs is difficult, my training in Total Body Modification form the states means I can perform Gentle Chiropractic reflexes to make it easier and I can supervise as you make any needed dietary changes if you struggle.
Manage your Stress and Anxiety.
A range of supplements have been shown to be effective in managing anxiety, herbs like Ashwagandha, B Vitamins, minerals like Zinc and Magnesium even Amino acids like L-tryptophan can have amazing results. There are many more. Speak to your Kinesiologist or Naturopath.
Kinesiology has a number of balances which aim to calm the nervous system, balance the Acupuncture Meridians and address past trauma, which are all effective methods for bringing stress under arrest.
Lifestyle factors like exercise, meditation and time for recreation and connection are also significant in alleviating stress.
The good news is that with time and lessening exposure your body will devote fewer chemical receptor sites to craved substances your cravings will diminish. Getting started takes a push, so set yourself up for success by starting once you’re really ready and willing to make a change, and being prepared with a game plan and support network.
Best of luck in becoming a healthier you.
*The Preceding advice is general in nature and may not apply in your circumstances. This post is not intended to treat alcoholism. Kinesiology is not a treatment for alcoholism or addiction. Please seek professional support if you are struggling with addiction issues. Alcoholics Anonymous or Lifeline can help.
If you are concerned for someone you love, Family Drug Support may assist you.
All the best in health and happiness.