I’ve developed a personal perception around this subject over the years, not just because I’ve been in this industry, but as a lifelong (adult of course) partaker of alcohol. Drinking on your own has long been considered a sign (though not in of itself confirmation) of having a problem with alcohol.
There are certain things to consider here, the most important being whether there are other factors present that also point to a problem.
- Are you using alcohol as a coping strategy? Even just having a few beers after a hard day at work still amounts to using alcohol as a coping strategy, so be careful before you shout no I don’t.
- Are you using alcohol as a means to relieve stress? This is related to the above of course. My advice is to remember that alcohol is a depressant. It feels good for the first few, but will ultimately exaggerate the very negative feelings you’re trying to suppress and will ultimately make you feel worse.
- Is your behaviour significantly affected by your alcohol use? Alcohol is often linked to violence, crime, abuse against friends and or family, sexual misadventure etc. If you’ve ever regretted the night before when you’ve woke up in the morning, you’re certainly not alone. I have too.
- Have your relationships with others altered as a result of your alcohol use? Again, related to the above. Have you lost a friend or partner for example? Or have your relationships become more difficult? It’s not easy to admit this one to others if it’s true. Also, it’s possible to be in self denial of it. Look inward. Listen to the promptings from within, and listen to what your loved ones are saying to you even, or especially, if it feels uncomfortable.
If you resonate at all with even some of the above, perhaps you may benefit from a closer look at your drinking habits. I’ve included links to a few helpful sites for those who need additional support. If you feel you have an issue, and you do want to cut down a bit, a good start is to look at how and when you drink. This is where we start to consider how much of our drinking we do on our own. Some things to consider here.
- Drinking on your own will exaggerate the depressant effect of the alcohol. The lack of company to keep you interested in something other than your problems can lead to excessive mulling over and over thinking. Also in this situation, it’s easily possible to be sitting in a crowded bar, but still feel lonely. Who wants that? Well, you might decide that’s what you want. Your lowered mood will make you less receptive to company even when it’s there.
- You don’t have anyone you can trust to look after you. Some people’s moral compass and natural inhibitions can be seriously affected by alcohol. If you get drunk alone, you become more vulnerable to abuse from others. If you are home alone and you become ill or have an accident, you may not be able to seek the help you need.
A good first step in reducing your alcohol use is to eliminate drinking on your own. This website is all about social drinking. The idea is to enjoy your social times with friends and loved ones and to drink responsibly. It’s important to have the support of those who care about us, especially when we’re not at our best or vulnerable. Here are some thoughts on this.
- If you live alone, consider not having drink in the house. If you want a home bar, is it because your friends and family visit often? Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really need alcohol in the house if you don’t have frequent guests round?
- Always make plans when you want to go out to drink. Invite your friends. Let them know they matter to you. If your friends can’t make it, have a backup plan that doesn’t involve alcohol. Make it a fun back up plan that involves treating yourself such as a movie or a nice meal. Or engage in your favourite hobby. Decide that if your friends can’t make it out, neither can you.
- When at home alone, keep busy. Kill the housework then treat yourself. I’m all for self spoiling. I believe we all have an obligation to spoil ourselves (and each other of course) as much as we can within our means. There are a million ways to spoil yourself that don’t involve alcohol. Think about the things you really like doing that you can do at home, and do them. See my next point on how to afford it.
- Live within your means. Have a system to pay your bills each month that removes the possibility of that money being dipped into, such as a separate bank account for payments only. Don’t have a card for that account, or cut it up if your bank sends you one. Your normal card should only have genuinely disposable income available. Consider if you have enough, whether to have a savings account you can transfer some into of a type that doesn’t allow automatic access. The idea is to limit opportunities to drunk spend when you’re out. If it’s not in your normal account, you can’t make drunk withdrawals you’ll regret the next day. You won’t get behind on bills, and you’ll have more disposable income available to treat yourself because you’re not spending it all on alcohol.
The theme here is to not rely on opportunities to drink as being the sum of your entertainment. By defeating the temptation to drink alone, you’re if not eliminating, at least significantly reducing allot of the associated problems as I describe them above. Your social life will be much better for it, and you’ll benefit from a much stronger support network when you do need it. After all, that’s what friends are for.
Sober is the New Black: A Then and Now Account of Life Beyond Booze