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How to: Recognise what's driving you to drink

Posted by Bek: March 2012

I was recently living with my parents. Well actually it wasn't just me and my parents. It was my husband, three small children, and one very barky dog who were living with me and my parents. At five o'clock, the adults took to drinking a G&T to smooth over frayed nerves and calm rising levels of frustration. The drink seemed to take the edge off it all.

I am not alone in using alcohol to de-stress; many people get home from work and pour themselves a Sav Blanc to wash away the email spat with a colleague or the office politics around a new project. It releases your shoulders from up around your ears.

Around 41% of Australian adults drink weekly. And around half of those who drink alcohol do so at levels that put them at higher risk of alcohol-related harm in the short term (falling over, getting into a fight) and about a quarter at levels that put them at higher risk of long-term harm (chronic disease such as cancer ).

Stress is just one of many factors that causes folks to drink. Many use alcohol to lift their  mood – your footy team was just beaten by the Pies; you can't do up the top button on your favourite jeans. For others it's to get up the nerve to speak to the Daniel Craig lookalike who works across from the photocopier.

If alcohol is anything, it's equitable. That glass of Sav Blanc isn't only there for us when we're having a bad day, it's there when the weather's fine as well. A champagne to celebrate a new job or a big night out because you deserve it for sticking to your Feb Fast guns. Or just a couple of glasses of Pinot because you're out for dinner.

If you're keen to cut back on the booze, then recognising your triggers is a good place to start.

For example, understanding that you use alcohol to de-stress after work, why not try something else to help you unwind such as yoga or if you've had a really bad day – a boxing class.

If you drink because you're nervous, how about taking up a new activity that requires some creative thinking to distract your brain or a repetitive action such as knitting. 

Instead of celebrating reaching your weight loss goal with a cinnamon-infused margarita, how about hitting the shops and buying yourself a new top – likely to be cheaper than a cinnamon-infused margarita too.

Next time you find yourself reaching into the fridge, pause to think about why you're doing it. It might be there's another way to cheer yourself up/congratulate yourself. Although if you're living with your parents and your kids, then you might need to invest in a home gym.

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