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New Year's Resolutions for a Better Relationship to Alcohol

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 18 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
New Year's Resolution Abstinence Detox

One in four New Year’s Resolutions relates to either giving up alcohol altogether or cutting down on intake, but there are other ways to have a better relationship with your alcohol intake and here are a few resolutions that may not have occurred to you.

Change Your Drinking Pattern

Instead of giving up, or going for a detox, why not be kind to yourself and aim for a different drinking pattern. Many of us feel we have overdone the booze at Xmas and New Year, so it feels natural to then go teetotal in January, but the shock to the system can make you feel terrible and there’s no scientific evidence that ‘detox’ has any health value for the average drinker.

In fact there are some health benefits, such as stress reduction, to moderate alcohol intake, so cutting it out completely can make you feel worse very quickly. Instead, consider drinking every other day instead of every day, or having alcohol-free weekends. Perhaps you could not drink alcohol at lunchtime, or drink it with lunch but not in the evening? It’s a way of cutting down without cutting out that focuses on where and when you drink rather than on the drink itself.

Improve Your Intake

Instead of drinking less, drink better. This technique takes some alcohol out of your pattern but replaces it with a better quality drink. So, if you regularly drink white wine spritzers, replace three spritzers with a glass of champagne. If you’re a six pack man, swap them for a single pint of top quality real ale. The idea is to look for a premium equivalent to your regular alcohol but only to spend as much as you usually would. This cuts down on the amount you drink, but gives you the bonus of a really enjoyable experience.

Focus On Harm Reduction

It’s a fact that all-or-nothing decisions can be stressful. If we stick to them we feel we are depriving ourselves of a pleasure and if we fail, we feel we are weak and pathetic. Picking a goal such as harm reduction is a better way of approaching our alcohol consumption for many of us. The idea is to ensure that we do the minimum harm to ourselves, others and the wider world when we drink.

Harm reduction for us may mean getting the house set up so that when we get home after a night out the hangover preparations are all laid out. Harm reduction for others can be ensuring we don’t drink and drive and our work is done so that we’re not letting colleagues down if we are a bit under the weather after a bit of a binge. Harm reduction for the environment is about disposing of bottles and cans, making sure the house is clean and fragrant and that we are too! All this is a gentle, mindful way of improving the way we drink.

To Drink Less, Eat Better

Similarly, many drinkers find that eating food reduces their craving for alcohol, so only drinking after you’ve eaten can be a very simple way to cut down your intake. Another way to approach this resolution is to say you will only drink with meals, so no drinking at the bar or just going out to drink.

Forget About Drinking

This resolution encourages you to take up new activities in the time-slots that you usually give over to drinking. So if you are a lunchtime drinker, go to a museum or art gallery, or play football in the park or go swimming with a friend. Evening drinkers can visit the cinema, take a night class, or just arrange to meet friends somewhere that drinking is not a natural option. Simply doing something different can really change your drinking patterns and your attitudes to alcohol.

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