Escaping with Alcohol

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 in Self Help |

Escaping with Alcohol

It’s easy to slip into the habit of a glass of wine, or a beer at the end of a day.  It starts with using alcohol to relax and forget about the stresses of everyday life, and ends up becoming often or regular, in increasing volume.  Using alcohol can become a coping strategy.

Friday 1st March is Self Harm Awareness Day dedicated to increasing understanding about how and why people behave in ways that hurt themselves, and sometimes the people around them.  Excessive drinking, including binge drinking, is one of the ways to self harm.

Some people use alcohol as a way to cope with painful thoughts or feelings.  The effect is temporary at best, and the after effects can leave you feeling worse.  Some warning signs include:

  • Drinking to escape from problems
  • Often drinking alone
  • Planning your drinking
  • Drinking every day
  • Other people telling you to cut down
  • Feeling guilty about drinking
  • Hiding or lying about your drinking
  • Having problems at work because of drinking

It’s important to stop, or cut down on drinking alcohol, and it’s also important to address the problems that were the cause.  Some of the causes can include:

Feeling stressed – alcohol has a temporary relaxant effect, but there are many more effective strategies to use to relax.  Many people think that relaxation is about sitting still and not doing anything, but many people find that they feel better when they do something active.  That could mean exercise, or it could mean putting on some music or a radio programme while you cook something.

Loneliness or boredom – Not having anything to do, or spending a lot of time on your own, can get you down.  It helps to find something you are interested in, which often provides opportunities to meet, or relate to, other people.  There are a huge range of opportunities, from evening classes to volunteering, from learning something new, to rediscovering a past hobby or interest.  Research what is available locally, or ask around for ideas.

Thinking too much – Many people are having difficulty in getting their brain to switch off, so that thoughts go round and round, sometimes ending in worry or anxiety.  It helps to distract your mind so that it has something else to do, rather than keep going over the events of the day, or what is coming tomorrow.  There are many things you can try as a distraction including using puzzles and crosswords, reading a book, or doing something creative like drawing.  Spending time on the internet or playing computer games may not be so helpful as they stimulate the thinking brain.

Sleep problems – Lots of people think that using alcohol can help you sleep.  However it causes disruption in sleep patterns leading to a shallow sleep, sometimes with vivid or disturbing dreams.  It can therefore reduce the overall sleep time.  It’s important to develop a good sleep routine so that you are relaxed and ready to sleep.  Try to avoid falling asleep downstairs, so you don’t interrupt your sleep cycle by having to move to the bedroom.

Self harm takes many forms and drinking too much, too often, is one of them.  Take care of your well-being by limiting your alcohol intake so you don’t harm yourself, and your body.