Take a pledge to reduce or give up alcohol consumption

Here are 15 ways to help you achieve this goal

If you are dependent on alcohol, or have other medical or mental health problems you should stop drinking completely. Reduction of heavy drinking may be a more acceptable goal for some patients who lack readiness to quit drinking.

The frequency of heavy drinking (>5 drinks/day for men and 4 for women) has the highest correlation with negative life consequences such as impaired driving, interpersonal problems and injuries.

You need to cut down if in the past one year you have taken one or more times, >5 drinks in a day (4 drinks for women). This positive response to a single question “How many times in the past year have you had X or more drinks in a day?” where X is five for men and 4 for women, is recommended for use by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr. A Marthanda Pillai – National President and Padma Shri Awardee Dr. KK Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement said. “During the festive months there is a tendency for people to over-indulge without realizing the implications excessive alcohol consumption has on their health. Alcohol can cause hypertension, obesity, aggravate diabetes and also trigger heart attacks. It has a negative effect on ones neurological functioning. Given these health hazards associated with it, we would like to urge people to start the New Year by reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption from their day to day lives for a healthy and disease free life.”

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests the following for stopping or reducing alcohol:
1. Put it in writing why you want to reduce or stop: Write what you want to achieve, for example, will feel healthier; will sleep better, will improve my relationships.

2. Write confessions: Learn and practice various confession exercises. This will help you take care of inner guilt, which may be the precipitating factor.

4. Keep a diary of your drinking: For initial 3-4 weeks, keep track of every drink. Note the situations you are most likely to drink. Give each situation a rating out of 10. Try avoiding those situations for the next few weeks.

5. Don’t keep alcohol within your reach: Remove alcohol from your living place. This can help limit drinking.

6. Eat your drink: Drinking slowly can help. Sip and do not gulp. Sip soda, water or juice after each drink. This is called Mindful drinking. If you are aware of your drinking, you will cut back on it. Otherwise, you will drink more.

7. Never drink on an empty stomach.

8. Keep weekly one or two spiritual fast/s. This will allow alcohol-free days. Decide not to drink a day or two each week.

9. Observe spiritual retreats: Observing spiritual retreats (Navratri by Hindus, Ramzan by Muslims and Easter by Christians) with no drinking can help. Or try abstaining for a week or a month to see your commitment to not drinking.

10. Become a tortoise: Learn to withdraw yourself from all stimuli, which can force you to drink.

11. Watch for peer pressure: Learn to say no. Do not drink just because others are, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accept every drink you’re offered. Stay away from people who encourage you to drink.

12. Keep busy: Take a walk, play sports, go out to eat or catch a movie. When you’re at home, pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Painting, board games, playing a musical instrument, woodworking – these and other activities are great alternatives to drinking.

13. Ask for support: Let friends and family members know that you need their support.

14. Guard against triggers: Stay away from people and places that make you want to drink. In Yoga it is called Pratahyara and means staying away from the external stimuli. Lust cannot be removed by staying in a lustful atmosphere.

15. Be persistent: Most people who successfully cut down or stop drinking altogether do so only after several attempts.