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Ask a Therapist: I'm trying to change my relationship with alcohol but the holidays are around the corner. What should I do?

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If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, consider practicing some healthy drinking habits now before the holiday season starts. Building these habits now will make it easier for you to manage your drinking when the holiday season rolls around. Here are a few tips for building healthy drinking habits that you can work on now:

1) Establish some rules around drinking and practice these before the holidays start. For example, this could look like telling yourself:

  • “I never pour my own wine.”
  • “I alternate a drink and water.”
  • “I never have more than two drinks.”
  • “I don’t drink after 10 PM.”

2) Drink water before having an alcoholic drink. It’ll quench your thirst and make it less likely that you’ll drink more than you intended to.

3) Before going to a social gathering where alcohol will be present, practice refusing a drink. Create a script and practice how to turn down offers to drink in a way that feels comfortable and authentic for you. This could look like: 

  • “I’m driving.”
  • “I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow.”
  • “I’m not drinking these days.”

4) Your relationship with alcohol can become problematic if it’s your only way of dealing with stress or strong emotions. To reduce your reliance on alcohol, find other ways of coping with stress, such as creating healthier eating and sleep habits, engaging in exercise, participating in hobbies, or spending time with family and friends.

5) Share your goals around changing your relationship with alcohol with supportive loved ones. This will make it more likely for you to achieve your goals.

6) Changing your relationship with alcohol is hard. So don’t beat yourself up if a slip-up happens. Instead, focus on what you’ve learned from the slip-up and what you plan to do next time.

If you're looking for a bit of help as you manage your relationship with alcohol, MindBeacon is here with a variety of supports available in our Virtual Mental Health Therapy Clinic. This includes a Managing Alcohol Use Guided CBT Program. If you are part of our Workplace Mental Health Program, please visit your company page for access to services covered by your program.

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.