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Alcohol dependency treatment - Is your drinking just a habit?

Published 20/02/2009

Did you give up alcohol in January, following the excesses of the festive season? Or perhaps you are abstaining for Lent?

Either way, alcohol treatment specialists recommend a break from alcohol from time to time. Not only is it a good way to feel fitter, more alert and shed some excess pounds - it's also an excellent opportunity to reassess your relationship with alcohol. 

Even for moderate drinkers, tolerance to alcohol builds up quickly. Regular drinking leads to increased tolerance, meaning that you need more alcohol to have the same effect. Time 'on the wagon' can help reset tolerance levels, so that you drink less before you feel you've had enough and lowering the risk of developing alcohol dependency. 

But more importantly still, stopping shouldn't be hard, says Sue Allchurch, research director at alcohol dependency treatment specialist Linwood Group. "If you resolve to take a month-long break from alcohol and find yourself slipping after a few weeks - or worse still, a few days - then alarm bells should be ringing," she says. "Feeling that you 'need' to drink is a clear sign that you may be slipping into dependency." 

Although it may seem to you that drinking is 'just a habit', you are making a choice to have a drink each and every time. A period of abstinence offers the chance to explore your beliefs about alcohol and the way that these are expressed in your habits and behaviour. 

Perhaps you have a drink as a 'reward' after a long day at work or looking after children. Maybe a drink provides the courage you need to face social events with confidence. Or perhaps you simply feel that a party isn't a party without that glass of Merlot in your hand. 

Either way, these attitudes demonstrate an unhealthy reliance on alcohol that can quickly create a serious problem. "Everyone feels the need to escape from stress, shyness and feeling down from time to time. But, for some people, alcohol provides an escape from emotional pain and difficult feelings so effectively that it quickly becomes a crutch," says Allchurch. "In order to cut down or stop drinking, you have to accept not only that problems must be dealt with sober, but that drinking to escape them only makes matters worse."

If stopping drinking - whether temporarily or permanently - is a struggle for you, it's probably time to seek help and advice from qualified experts. Appropriate alcohol dependency help can help you address the difficulties that alcohol is causing in your life and work towards a positive lifestyle change. 


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