Take steps to reverse an alcohol habit during a pandemic


Reduce after a year of quarantine? Increased or excessive alcohol consumption during times of stress is not uncommon. If you’re looking to dry off, here’s what you need to know to drink less after the pandemic, and some warning signs to look out for when it comes to alcohol withdrawal, which can be a serious illness.

How much is too much?

Moderate drinking is defined as one drink or less per day for women and two or less drinks for men. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (gin, rum, vodka, etc.).

If you’ve worked from home or just stayed at home for the past year, your schedule is different: fewer early mornings, more nights watching TV, or the new ability to take a nap in the middle. of the day. For these reasons, you may not notice the effects of a few extra drinks the night before.

How can I start reducing?

  1. Choose days when you will be alcohol-free. Sometimes, after refraining from drinking for a few days, you can reassess how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol.
  2. Evaluate your home bar. If you don’t have the drink of your choice in stock, it is more difficult to drink it.
  3. Drink mindfully when you soak. Try to drink more slowly while sipping and alternating with non-alcoholic drinks or water.
  4. Pay attention to your triggers – stress, the clock, whatever. Over time, you can begin to recognize these triggers and learn better ways to cope.
  5. Think about your social commitments: if a friend invites you out for a drink, suggest a coffee or a walk together instead.
  6. If you need it, ask for help. You can let your family and friends know that you need encouragement, or you can ask your health care provider or counselor for advice.

Benefits of reducing alcohol consumption

There are many good reasons for drinking less or even quitting altogether, such as:

  • Improved mood
  • Weightloss
  • Better sleep
  • Better digestion
  • Boosted metabolism
  • Clearer skin
  • Better hydration
  • Healthier liver, stomach and pancreas

What if it was more serious?

If you are still having difficulty reducing, it may signal a more serious problem.

Heavy drinkers may be unaware of the impact their alcohol use has on their life, job, or family, as they may have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol while continuing to function in their daily lives. If you stop drinking completely after a long period of alcohol abuse, you may have physical and / or psychological side effects, including:

  • Anxiety, irritability or depression
  • Clammy skin
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremor

If you have mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, schedule a visit with your primary care provider to discuss the next steps in your treatment plan.

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Delirium tremens

A very serious type of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens (DT). Onset occurs between two and four days after your last drink and can be life threatening. About 1 in 20 people who develop TD will die from it. If you or a loved one has these symptoms, see an emergency room immediately:

  • Agitation or confusion (may be severe)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Irregular heartbeat or dangerous changes in blood pressure
  • Epileptic crisis
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

If you go to the hospital for any other condition and have been drinking, be sure to let your healthcare provider know so they can monitor you.

The key to avoiding severe alcohol withdrawal is early intervention. Your primary care provider provides a non-judgmental space in which you can share and discuss your drinking history, concerns, questions, and reduction goals.


About Rhonda Lee

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