Alcoholic Drinks: What’s Moderation?
Another kind of drinking challenge
Alcoholic drinks: What’s “moderation”?
If you’re someone who finds it really hard to give up alcohol…
…like, really hard…
You’re not alone.
Whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers with friends on a sunny patio after work, drinking alcohol in moderation can for sure have a worthy place in a balanced, healthy diet.
Moderation is key. “Moderation” is unique to each individual. Understanding moderation to any potentially addictive behavior involves two key variables:
- A general guideline of amount (e.g., less than three drinks per week),
- Your emotional relationship to that behavior (e.g., does drinking even a small amount of alcohol in certain situations make you more uncomfortable? Feeling out of control? Or regretful?)
If you’re considering your relationship to alcohol, you could ask yourself:
Can you go without your regular alcoholic drinks for two weeks without feeling uncomfortable?
If not, then you may not be drinking in moderation. Alcohol may be a coping mechanism for other unaddressed problems.
Relationships with coping
Life is stressful. Everyone needs healthy ways to calm down and find comfort.
Some ways can be a win-win for both relieving stress and moving you towards your goals. A good run outside in the sunshine, or a blast-the-music session of smashing a punching bag, can usually kill a bad mood.
Other ways of coping could be set on auto-pilot and less helpful. Like scrolling social media for hours, shopping, glazing over in front of TV.
For any type of coping activity, if it’s not done thoughtfully and intentionally, it could be making problems worse.
Alcohol is commonly used as a coping strategy. It’s a sedative that really can “take the edge off” or chill you out. It does that by depressing the nervous system. Easing inhibitions and anxieties can grease the wheels of social interaction.
For many people, the occasional drink or two in moderation has a place in a healthy diet.
Make us feel like part of the crowd—our “friends” might even hassle us when we don’t drink around them.
Plus depending on our booze of choice, alcohol can be tasty. It can go well with a meal, or provide the perfect ending.
How do you know the line?
When is alcohol just part of a normal “fit person” lifestyle, and when is it a problem?
If the idea of giving up booze even for a short time is freaking you out… that’s a red flag.
A few more important questions to understand your relationship with alcohol:
- Is alcohol an important part of me living a healthy life? Why?
- What am I using alcohol for? Does it feel uncomfortable to not drink? Why?
- What’s a reasonable amount for me to drink? How many times per year (or month or week)?
- In what situations is it smart for me to drink? Which situations is it smarter for me to not drink?
- Does my drinking have any relationship to my food and eating habits? If so, what?
Tune in to your experiences with alcohol and notice and name. Are there other uncovered problems that alcohol has been keeping you from facing?
If you need help, reach out.
If you think you might need help with your drinking, get that help.
You’re not a weirdo, you’re not bad, and you’re not alone. It’s very common to struggle with this.
If this could apply to you, addressing a major obstacle like disordered drinking habits could set off a cascade of progress. Settling anxiety around drinking could allow you to make huge progress elsewhere in your health journey much more easily.
If you’d like to read more about this, check out “Would I be healthier if I quit drinking?”