Healthy Living: How to Control Your Alcohol Intake

a woman reaching out for a drink

Alcohol consumption can have both short- and long-term effects on your health. In the short term, alcohol can impair your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This increases your risk of accidents, injuries, and violence. Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and brain damage.

It’s no secret that drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous. But what about drinking in moderation? Is there such a thing as “healthy” alcohol consumption? The answer is yes — but it depends on several factors, including your age, health status, and family history.

Here are some tips for how to control your alcohol intake:

1. Know Your Limits

The first step to controlling your alcohol intake is to know your limits. Just because you can drink more than someone else doesn’t mean you should. Pay attention to how alcohol affects you, and be honest with yourself about when you’ve had enough. If you’re unsure of your limits, start by tracking how much you drink in a week. Then, try to cut back by 10-15%.

When in doubt, stick to the recommended guidelines of no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. This means one 5-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

2. Set Some Rules For Yourself

Once you know your limits, it’s time to set some rules for yourself. For example, you might decide that you will only drink on weekends or that you will only drink in social situations. Whatever rules you set for yourself, make sure they are realistic and easy to stick to. Here are some other rules you might consider setting for yourself:

  • Never drink on an empty stomach
  • Only have one drink per hour
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soda
  • Refuse any drinks that are given to you without your knowledge or consent

3. Seek Help If Needed

If you cannot control your alcohol intake, don’t be afraid to seek help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, and consider seeking professional addiction treatment. Remember, addiction is a disease, not a sign of weakness or failure. You can regain control and improve your overall health with the right support and treatment.

When choosing an addiction treatment program, ensure it is evidence-based and includes therapy, support groups, and medical assistance if needed. You should also look for a program that addresses any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Uncontrolled consumption of alcohol

4. Experiment With Non-Alcoholic Drinks

If you’re used to drinking alcohol, it might be challenging to cut back or quit completely. Try experimenting with non-alcoholic drinks such as mocktails, seltzer water with fruit, or herbal tea. This can help prevent boredom and make social situations where alcohol is present more manageable.

When ordering a non-alcoholic drink at a bar or restaurant, be clear and specific about what you want. For example, instead of just asking for a “non-alcoholic drink,” specify that you want sparkling water with lemon.

5. Have a Plan for High-Risk Situations

Some situations may increase the temptation to drink excessively, such as parties or holidays. It’s important to have a plan in place for these high-risk situations. This could include bringing a designated driver, setting limits for yourself beforehand, or even choosing not to attend the event if you know it will be too difficult to resist excessive drinking. You might also consider bringing along non-alcoholic drinks or planning to leave the event early if needed.

6. Practice Self Care

Taking care of yourself is important for both your physical and mental health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, staying active, and managing stress. All of these factors can play a role in controlling your alcohol intake and preventing excessive drinking. Additionally, engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy can also help reduce the urge to rely on alcohol for pleasure or coping.

Remember, only you have control over how much alcohol you consume. It’s never too late to start making changes and improving your overall health. If you need support, don’t hesitate to contact loved ones or seek professional help. Your health and well-being are worth it.

Controlling your alcohol intake is important for maintaining good health in the short and long term. By following the tips listed above, you can learn how to monitor and limit your drinking so that it doesn’t take a toll on your body or mind. And if you find that you can’t control your drinking on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help — many people are ready and willing to assist you in overcoming alcoholism.

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