When is Happy Hour Not So Happy?Written by Dina Colman
One friend who recently had surgery said he did not want to take his pain pill so that he could drink his nightly cocktail. Another friend commented drinking with her husband is part of the social fabric of how they interact and something they enjoy doing together. She was considering giving up drinking for a short period of time but felt that doing so would change the dynamic of their routine. We all have a different interaction and relationship with alcohol, but when it seems like you can't live without it, it's probably the time to live without it—at least for a little while. I may not have the bond with alcohol, but I did have to break up with Diet Coke when it was becoming a (necessary) part of my daily routine. See my blog, If Diet Coke Were Broccolli.
A client that I have worked with has a lot of stress in her life and doesn't sleep well. She drinks two to three glasses of wine daily. She came to me to help her manage stress. She wrote, "I would rather not go on doctor prescribed pills and be dulled but rather see if I can learn to manage life better." Great! But then I wondered if her nightly alcohol consumption wasn't just another form of medicating—helping to dull the pain. She said that her nightly wine helped her survive the chaos of her kids.
In working with this client, she has committed to cutting back her alcohol to three times a week. And when she does drink, she is trying to limit the number of glasses she has. I suggested that before she pour herself a drink, she check in with herself and ask why she is reaching for the drink. Is it social? Is it to take the edge off? Identifying the reason can help shed some light. If it is to be social, perhaps she can limit the drink to one. Or create a fun, nonalcoholic drink. Or ask herself why she feels she can only be social with drink in hand. If it is to take the edge off, where is the edge coming from and how can she prevent the edge from arising so that the need for the drink goes away?
I write this blog with observation, not judgment. If you can relate to any of these examples, I just offer that you drink mindfully. Look into why you are drinking and how much you are consuming. If it has become a tool for self-medication, it might be time for a break from your relationship with alcohol.
If you (or someone you know) need help reducing the triggers (e.g. stress, anger, exhaustion, social discomfort) in your life that prompt you to reach for a drink, give me a call. We can work on removing the triggers as well as finding healthier forms of "self-medication" to set you on a path to health.