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Overcoming a drink problem

If you think you drink too much, then chances are you do. Nobody can force you to reduce your alcohol intake, or make you seek professional help. The only person who can take responsibility for that is you.

Review your lifestyle

Identify those times and places when you're most likely to reach for a drink. From the bar after work to the weekend with friends, if you know you'll be tempted then think about steering clear. Alternatively, try turning up later than usual, to minimise your drinking time, or kick off with a soft drink to stop you from feeling so thirsty.

Drink for the right reasons

Try to associate drinking with celebrations, cultural and religious events, rather than a means of blotting out your problems or propping up your self-confidence. Also think of alcohol as something you do as a complement to another activity, instead of something you turn to for its own sake.

Pace yourself

Binge drinking is dangerous, as your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour. The more rapidly you drink the more intense the effects will be, but that doesn't make the experience any more enjoyable. If you find it hard to apply the booze brakes, try putting your drink down more often. If it isn't in your hand all the time, you're less likely to drink it so quickly.

Facing up to the fact that you may have a drink problem takes guts.

Learn new bar tricks

If you're at the bar with a glass in your hand, try talking more. Use your mouth for something other than boozing and you're less likely to fall down at the end of the evening. Getting in something to eat can also have the same stalling effect, though be careful with salty snacks, as it could just stoke your thirst.

Know your limit

Before you start drinking, be sure you know when to stop. This can be hard when everyone else is boozing, but practise makes perfect. It also avoids bad hangovers.

Take a break from boozing

If you're worried about drinking, but you don't fancy quitting completely, then set aside an alcohol-free period every now and then. It might be one day in a week or a month, but even a temporary hop onto the wagon can be enough to keep the issue alive in your mind. Ultimately, the more switched on you can be about your alcohol intake the less likely it is that you'll run into problems.

Seeking help

Facing up to the fact that you may have a drink problem takes guts. It is perhaps the most courageous step you can take towards regaining control over your life. Help is out there too, from confidential telephone support to face-to-face counselling and more, but it's down to you to ask.

Updated: 06/06/2011

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