Research into behaviour change tells us that often that decision comes down to push/pull factors that are present in our lives – and often we don’t actually make changes until the push factors outweigh the pull factors.
This is really interesting when we think about alcohol use and our relationship with alcohol. Most Daybreak members tell us that their decision to change was the result of a few different things – a build-up of reasons to change vs reasons to stay the same. So how might you know if you are ready to change your relationship with alcohol?
1.Consequences outweighing the benefits
One clear sign that change is needed is if the consequences of drinking are starting to outweigh the benefits for you. This might look like hangovers that last all day and affect your work, weight gain and health issues from daily drinking, relationship issues and possibly injuries you’ve sustained while drinking.
Gradually, or all of a sudden, it starts to look like the benefits of drinking – which might include the social aspect, the taste, winding down at the end of a day – are outweighed by these other factors, which can really start to impact your quality of life.
2.Alcohol use impacting physical and mental health
We’ve touched on this when talking about the consequences of drinking, but it deserves a bit more attention. If you’re noticing that you’re having health issues as a result of drinking regularly, or you have existing health issues that are being exacerbated by drinking, this could be a sign that it is time to change.
Alcohol use impacting our health can be a slippery slope, since we might sometimes then use alcohol to manage some of those health symptoms – for example, hair of the dog to manage anxiety or low mood during a hangover, or drinking to manage pain or discomfort from alcohol-related issues. If you’re noticing health issues as a result of your drinking, it is also something that is likely to get worse. Many long-term drinkers struggle with things like digestive issues, weight gain, fatty liver, increased risk of cancer and diabetes – these all impact quality of life and life expectancy significantly.
3.Alcohol use increases, or noticing more of an impact
The final sign that it might be time to change is that you’re needing to drink more alcohol to get the same effect. This means you’re likely to be developing a tolerance to alcohol and moving towards dependence. Remember back in the day when you might have needed just one glass of wine – but now it is hard to stop at two? Over time, our brains adapt to the effect of alcohol and we need more to get the same effect.
The risky part of tolerance is also dependence, since this means that the longer this goes on for, the harder it is going to be to not have anything to drink. For some people, stopping drinking once they are physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol can be really uncomfortable, with symptoms ranging from anxiety to seizures. If you’re starting to suspect that you’re becoming dependent on alcohol, it is a good idea to visit your GP and discuss options for starting to manage this. If some of this sounds familiar to you, it means now is a great time to explore some changes – even if this isn’t stopping drinking altogether, it can be more about reducing your alcohol use so that it is no longer risky or hazardous.
If you’re thinking it is time to make some changes to your relationship with alcohol, I’d recommend you visit the Daybreak app. You can get the help and support you need from a community of people with similar goals to you. Changing your relationship with alcohol doesn’t have to be drastic or involve huge changes to your lifestyle – it is more about figuring out what is going to work for you.