Alcohol (or other drugs), and the silly season....
The festive season, full of celebrations and gatherings, can also be a tricky time for people who have a tendency to over-consume alcohol (or other substances) and it can be a difficult time for families impacted by their loved ones’ alcohol or other drug consumption.
This week we’re offering, in two parts, tips for everyone affected by substances to help survive the silly season.
Part 1 will introduce tips for people considering reducing or refraining from drinking/using, and
Part 2 will introduce tips for families who are affected by their loved-one’s substance use.
First, you might want to consider where you sit on the substance-use continuum:
Non-using -> experimental -> recreational/social -> regular -> dependent/compulsive
If you place yourself up on the ‘regular/dependent’ end of the continuum, we understand that this time of the year might be particularly challenging for you. Challenging on your health, wellbeing, relationships, or finances. We also understand the difficulties you might be facing, resisting urges, which are far beyond what non-substance-using people, can comprehend.
Regardless of where you place yourself on the continuum, if you’re considering reducing or refraining from drinking/substance use, then you might want to do any of the following:
Eat healthily and exercise – this can build the momentum to feeling good about yourself.
Be the (non-drinking) designated driver
Recruit a friend’s support – devise a plan together.
Space your consumption out – alternating between water and alcohol.
Switch from spirits to wine
Mix your wine with soda water
Think through and identify all the people, places and situations (triggers) that create urges to drink/use.
Plan your life so as to avoid or manage those urge-provoking people/places/situations.
Keep yourself busy with healthy, self-esteem-boosting activities
Plan your week ahead to include activities that makes it difficult to drink eg spend time with non-drinking friends, away from your normal places. Create a detailed plan with every hour accounted for.
Change your routine and the habitual drinking (or using) patterns – shake things up a bit eg throw out your favourite drinking glass (or other apparatus); move your furniture around to change the environment; go to different places with different people doing different activities.
Use the 4 D’s to manage the urges and cravings:
Delay (your next drink/use for as long as possible). Cravings and urges come and go like waves. Give yourself 20 minutes and your urge will subside.
Distract yourself – get busy with activities
Decatastrophise – are you end-of-the-world thinking?
Deep breathe – urges can subside
Speak with a specialist AOD (alcohol and other drugs) counsellor – to create a personal plan
Speak to your GP who may be able to prescribe you with medication to manage cravings, or other effects.
Revisit all our tips from the previous 4 weeks of the Silly Season
Need further support around this? get in touch with a specialist Drug and Alcohol Counsellor. Leichaardt Women's Community Health Centre offer counselling in this field, or you can contact me for private sessions.
Written by me, permission given from Leichhardt Women's Community Health Centre to share.