Now that it’s February, there are many out there who are just coming off the challenge that is ‘sober January.’ It’s a very common way to start the New Year; cut out alcohol for the first month. This challenge is most fascinating because of the various paths you can take afterward. Do you continue to stay “sober”? Do you count down the minutes until you can drink? Do you drink to the point of a blackout because you miss the feeling? Or do you recognize that there might have been an underlying dependence on alcohol? Ask yourself, was your life significantly better during that month (or hypothetical alcohol cleanse) without drinking?
In 2020, alcohol consumption increased because of the pandemic. People were isolated, frightened, or bored and alcohol was a quick, easy, and socially acceptable companion. There’s no doubt that stress occurs (we’ve all experienced a collective trauma with the COVID-19 pandemic), and sometimes we just want to take off the edge of daily life. Drinking has become an easy go-to for some, and for others, it has been there long before the recent shift in life circumstances. If you’re questioning your relationship with alcohol, it might be helpful to reflect.
Ask yourself when drinking
Knowing what you want out of drinking can be a helpful way of discovering what leads you to drink. Is it for coping with stress? Is it to help you be comfortable in social situations? Is it to help compliment the flavors in your meal? These three questions, regarding an intention to drink, all show big differences in the drive to drink. Is there something I’m trying to escape from or numb?
Ask yourself after drinking
When alcohol is consumed, inhibitions can be blurred or erased completely. Do you have ‘hangxiety’ (anxiety and a hangover)? Do you find yourself ridiculing the things you said or did when drinking? Do you worry about how you made it home? Do you say to yourself, “I’m done drinking like that”?
If you reach a point where you want to evaluate your relationship with alcohol, here are some things to consider:
Moderation can be a great option for those who want to have an occasional drink, and recognize that there aren’t several underlying forces that lead to problem drinking. Moderation can vary from one drink a week, to a drink only on special occasions.
30 days without alcohol challenge
A quick way to assess whether or not drinking poses a threat to your health and mental health is to try 30 days without alcohol. During this time take note of when you really would like to have a drink, and see if there’s an alternative coping mechanism that can be just as effective.
Attend a 12-step group
If you try to stop alcohol consumption and are in need of support, there are 12-step groups all over the country. Pretty much any city has a 12-step group that is welcoming to those wanting to have a life without alcohol being in control.
At the core of it, drinking can affect us mentally, physically, and socially. The range is huge. Knowing if alcohol is complicating your journey with mental health, relationships, work, or your relationship with yourself, can be an indicator of an underlying challenge with alcohol. While there are several questions to ask yourself regarding alcohol, one of the most important is this – would my inner world be better without alcohol?
If you would like help navigating your relationship with sobriety or getting control of your drinking, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.