I don’t have to tell you it’s hard to control your drinking.
I don’t have to tell you life hurts.
You’re struggling to cope and most of the time you make it. But sometimes you just want the pain to stop.
Sometimes you just want to say that you’re NOT fine.
You’re scared. You’re lonely. And you’re sick and tired of feeling this way.
Because you’re mind never stops.
The constant worrying drives you crazy.
So where’s the harm in a glass of wine to take the edge off.
After all you deserve it with all you have going on. So you pour yourself a large one.
And that’s when it all goes wrong.
You’ve been here before, many times. One drink leads to another.
You get distracted.
Somehow you don’t remember opening the second bottle. You don’t remember your partner going to bed. All you know is that it’s morning. You’re on the couch. You’re back aches.
And you hate yourself –again.
And no doubt he’ll hate you today too-again.
Later, you Google ‘Are You An Alcoholic’ for the hundredth time, to convince yourself it’s not that bad.
After all, you don’t drink in the morning.
You’ve never had broken bones or a DUI.
You don’t crave a drink until 5pm and you don’t drink every day…mostly.
Anyway everyone you know drinks!
But you and I know that’s not the point.
You know you feel like death.
You’re sick of this.
And you’re ashamed of yourself.
Here’s what you can do.
1# Be honest with yourself
How much are you drinking? Are there drinks, like cakes, you don’t count? Do you hide a glass or bottle from your partner or family members? Do you make excuses to go to the supermarket on your own to buy wine? Do you sneak extra drinks at events when no one’s looking? Or order one at the bar because everyone drinks at a snail’s pace.
2# Have an Alcohol Free Break–
If the thought of never drinking again sends you into a tail spin, then try having an alcohol free break for thirty, sixty, ninety days or longer. Your mind will clear of the wine fog. You’ll also sleep better which will reduce the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in your body. Your mood will improve and you’ll feel more alert, alive and energised with the added bonus of losing weight, saving money and spend fun time rather than feeling dull and hung over.
(If you normally drink 15 units or more a day, you may be in danger of adverse physical withdrawal symptoms so please visit your GP)
3# Don’t Replace One Devil with Another
Replacing wine with beer, whiskey with gin etc., in order to control your drinking is the road to insanity. In fact, you may drink more to make up for the pleasure you usually get from your favourite drink. Alcohol is alcohol and let’s be honest, we don’t drink for the taste, we drink because we believe it makes us feel better. But if you don’t have an ‘Off-Switch’ then you’ll still drink as much regardless of the name on the bottle.
4# Be Gentle With Yourself
If you’re like most women, you have an inner drill sergeant living in your head who berates you that your house is never clean enough, children happy enough and your life’s a mess. So, when it comes to hangover time, the drill sergeant goes into over-drive. Try silencing this inner critic and talking to yourself as a good friend. Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse leading you back to the drinks cabinet anyway, so be kind to yourself and know that you’re doing your best.
5# Focus on the positives of not drinking.
Having a break from drinking or becoming completely alcohol free doesn’t have to be a white knuckle ride of cravings and willpower. Reframe your thinking to the benefits of more time, money better health, more energy, better relationships, creativity and being a good role model to your family.
6# Get Support
When you’re caught in this cycle of worry, wine and beating yourself up, you also feel a tremendous amount of shame. This leads you to drink in secret and keep the problem to yourself. This is the worst thing you can do. There is help out there. It doesn’t matter where you get support as long as you don’t struggle alone. There are online groups such as Smart Recovery, Women For Sobriety, Soberistas and A.A. And also a thriving group of people who are waking up to the alcohol industry brainwashing particularly targeted towards women.
It takes courage to reach out when you’re feeling ashamed and confused but doing so can put things back into perspective.
You can have a great life and get your self-worth and self-respect back.
You can beat this before it beats you.
And you can look yourself in the eye in the bathroom mirror every morning and know with all your heart and soul that you changed your life.
Jacqueline Groves is a counsellor and coach specialising in helping women reclaim their self worth by breaking the cycle of worry, wine and toxic relationships.