It is an unfortunate fact of life that many people rely on alcohol to unwind after a busy day at work or after the children have gone to bed. Some people find themselves unable to relax without having an alcoholic drink or 2. Other people may eventually find that those 1 or 2 glasses of wine have developed into a bottle or 2 of wine, or that their drinking is no longer just restricted to the evening.
What should you do if you discover you’re drinking too much?
The obvious solution is to stop however, it might not be that simple. Alcohol is an addictive drug. Due to the fact that in many countries alcohol is widely available, many people are surprised when they discover that they have become physically addicted to alcohol and are no longer drinking just for pleasure.
The term most people associate with this is alcoholism. While alcoholics are mainly thought of as old homeless men, many people can become physically addicted to alcohol while still holding down a job, raising a family and paying their mortgage.
If you consider that this is you then the best advice is, as with any major decision which affects your physical lifestyle, to visit your doctor or physician. They will then be able to advise you on the most appropriate method to stop drinking. Some of the methods they may suggest are:
Going Cold Turkey
Going ‘cold turkey’ or cutting out alcohol completely is perhaps the most commonly used method that people undertake to stop drinking. It’s simple – you just don’t drink. For people who have the occasional alcoholic drink this method is probably fine. You may feel restless for a day or so after you stop, unable to sleep at night, or find your emotions a little heightened but these usually pass quickly. Many people actually find that after they’ve stopped drinking completely they suddenly become more relaxed and sleep better than when they were using alcohol to relax.
If you have been trying to go cold turkey but find it just too hard to suddenly cut out alcohol all together you may wish to slowly reduce your alcoholic intake. If you have been drinking 4 beers a night you may wish to drop this down to 3 for a couple of days, then down to 2 and then finally down to 1 before you stop. By staggering your reduction in this way your body gets used to the smaller amounts of alcohol and then it’s then much easier to stop.
Drug Supported Detox
If you have been drinking for a long period of time the above methods might be too dangerous for you to try. In these instances your doctor may prescribe you a reduction detox program. During such a detox you will be given a short course, usually 5-10 days, of a benzodiazepine type drug. Much like the alcohol reduction method you begin by taking a large dose of this drug and then gradually reduce the dose over the period you have been prescribed it for. The benzodiazepine mimics the effects of alcohol in your brain and reduces the likely hood of seizures in those who have abused alcohol seriously in the past. If your doctor does prescribe a drug detox they are also likely to suggest that you continue your treatment by attending counseling or group sessions such as Alcoholics Anonymous to prevent potential relapses once the detox has ended.