It’s that time of year again. People across the country are making commitments to better their lives in 2013, with healthy resolutions making the top of the list. For heavy drinkers, however, these new habits will do little to improve their well-being unless their alcohol use is kept in check.
It is important to objectively assess your drinking habits. More than four standard drinks a day for men and three standard drinks a day for women is considered high risk drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated one in four heavy drinkers is an alcoholic or has an alcohol-dependency problem.
Heavy drinking may also result in unintentional injuries, drunk driving, unintended pregnancy, sexual assault, violence, alcohol poisoning, weight gain and other health problems. Cutting back on alcohol use can dramatically reduce these risks. Even small steps can make a huge impact:
- Set Limits- Decide how many drinks you plan to consume each week and how often. Write it on a post-it and stick in on the refrigerator. By setting limits ahead of time, you can gauge when you’ve had enough.
- Count Your Drinks– Keep track of how many drinks you’ve consumed over the course of the evening. Remember, large drinks, such as “tall boys” or “doubles,” are often the equivalent of two or more standard drinks.
- Pace Yourself– Don’t drink more than one standard drink per hour. Sip slowly and eat a snack. Never drink on an empty stomach. Food helps the body absorb alcohol less rapidly.
- Find Alternatives– Replace drinking with other activities, such as sports, exercise, writing or volunteerism. Make note of how clear-minded and productive you feel when you don’t drink alcohol.
Make a pact to drink moderately, and stick to it. If you have tried unsuccessfully to cut back after three months, consider quitting altogether or talk to your doctor about treatment options. Visit rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov to take the alcohol risk assessment, create a quit plan or find treatment centers near you.