Mind and Body

What Heavy Drinking Does To Your Health And How You Can Cut Back

According to one Nielsen report, there was a 54% increase in national sales of alcohol in March 2020 when the pandemic started compared to the year before. Online sales had its own boom, increasing even more at a whopping 262%. Needless to say, it’s not surprising if your own alcohol habits have also changed since the beginning of the pandemic. After months of lockdown, you could even be ready to make up for lost time with friends, and that may include a few more cocktails than usual.

If you can relate, it’s a good time to take stock of your drinking habits. For starters, “heavy drinking” is categorized as four drinks or more in a single session for men, or three drinks or more in a single session for women. This can have some serious long-term side effects. Liver issues are probably the most well-known, but it can also lead to stroke, fertility effects, heart failure, and more. We know, that sounds intense, but it's not to say it means you have to swear off alcohol forever.

The good news is, if you’re looking to cut back, just one month off from drinking could mean positive changes in insulin resistance, blood pressure and liver function. You may consider the assistance of a web-based program like vorvida, which you can access from your computer, phone or tablet—anywhere you can access the internet. Vorvida is a groundbreaking program that can help you change your drinking habits based on your own behaviors using proven tools and techniques. It uses methods based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help manage drinking without the help of a therapist or doctor (though it’s also great combined with therapy). Even better: It’s personalized just for you. Members share that they love it because it focuses on moderation, not abstinence. Ahead, we’re also sharing some concrete tips and tricks that can be a starting point to help you cut back.

Make A Pros and Cons List

Let’s face it—something about drinking is still working for you, or you wouldn’t be doing it. A decisional balance can be the first step to help you see the pros and cons of making a change versus not. For example, a pro to not making a change is that you have fun with friends, while a con might be dealing with hangovers. In contrast, a pro in favor of making a change is that you can save money, while a con could be going out less during the week. When mapping it out, you may consider that joining a program like vorvida is an additional expense, but a pro is that it’s also an investment that will likely help save you more in the long run as you learn to take charge of your alcohol consumption habits.

Be SMART About Your Goals

A good acronym to remember when goal-setting is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely goals.

  • Specific: If you’re drinking five beers every night, it might not be reasonable or even desired to go cold turkey. Instead, what if you aimed to have three beers on three nights for the next two weeks?
  • Measurable: Keep a record of how many drinks you have a night. Using vorvida will also help you keep track with questionnaires about your mood and weekly alcohol consumption.
  • Achievable: For someone who is drinking heavily, fully cutting out alcohol immediately may not be realistic, so setting a small goal of reduction works in the short term.
  • Relevant: You can set a goal of drinking less vodka, but if you’re not drinking any vodka at all, that’s not relevant.
  • Timely: Two weeks is a reasonable place to start because it is long enough to start making a difference but short enough to be reasonable.

Cutting back won’t be easy, but it will be worth it, and using vorvida can help on this end by sending you daily messages of encouragement that will remind you of this.

Visualize Success

If you’re trying to cut back on drinking, you might immediately be seeing yourself in a bar or at a restaurant and feeling like the weird one not drinking. Instead, visualize what it will look like if you either don’t drink at an event you’re thinking about—or stick to the goal you’ve set for yourself. What will it look like? Will you be holding a seltzer instead? How will you feel? What will you be saying? Create a strong mental image that you can call on in the moment.

Surf Your Urges

“Urge surfing” is a meditative technique that involves paying attention to what’s going on in your mind and body while you’re having a strong urge for a drink. What does the urge feel like in your body? Is it a heavy lead blanket, or do you feel like you want to crawl out of your skin? Urges are like waves; eventually even the biggest wave will end once you ride it out. You may either sit quietly and focus on your breath, or listen to an urge surfing meditation like this one. If you’re out in public and can’t whip out your phone to listen to a meditation, try going to the bathroom or finding somewhere quiet to take a beat to yourself.

Record Your Thoughts

When drinking has become such a habit, we often don’t notice the thoughts and emotions that are leading to the behavior of drinking. A thought record can help you be cognizant of what may be leading you to that extra drink. Take note of what you are thinking or feeling before you reach for the bottle. Are you feeling stressed and thinking “I can’t relax without a drink?” Write this down, and then replace it with a more helpful thought like “work is stressful, but I can handle this.” Vorvida can also help you interrupt these thought patterns so you can change your behavior and relationship with alcohol.

If doing it on your own seems like too big of a task, consider trying vorvida’s online program. It may really be the push you need to help you meet your drinking goals through customized content over the course of six months. A clinical trial found a reduction in alcohol consumption in just the first three months, and users have said things like “I have a much easier time identifying why I'm drinking and choosing not to. Being able to feel like I'm enjoying a drink instead of like I need a drink has been great.”

To learn more or sign up for vorvida®, click here. Remember, ​​vorvida is not a healthcare provider and does not provide treatment. If you need medical assistance, please contact a healthcare provider directly.

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