As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

Courses by Carol

I’m a social drinker (Sofun)

You’re a social drinker and you crack open a nice bottle of wine after a hectic booze free week.

If the above applies to you, then you may be in trouble.
Doctors are now seeing women who have terminal liver disease which had little or no symptoms.

In just 15 minutes find out how you can continue drinking and avoid problems in the future.

Posts by Carol

Alan feels the stigma of drinking too much

There’s so much stigma about drinking too much. We tend to label people who drink too much as down and out. They’re the old man on a park bench, clothes tied together with string, smelling bad, drinking from a paper bag and shouting abuse at people passing by. This stigma of “being an alcoholic”  stops people admitting they have a problem with alcohol and need to drink less.


The secret entrepreneur

That’s why I was so pleased to read a recent series of columns by the Secret Entrepreneur, in the Sunday Business Post. This was written by a young man, who set up his own  business – a start up,  here in Ireland. He raised substantial funding and for a while it looked like the sky was the limit. The company was in over 100 cities. We’ll call the Secret Entrepreneur, Alan.


Family history

Alan had a family history of drinking too much. His Grandfather died from alcohol and it contributed to the early death of his Father at just 49.

At 24, a year or so into his start up, Alan realised he had a problem with drink. He lasted about a month without drinking. then his relationship broke up. Several times he tried to control his drinking- without success.


Work did not help

The start up culture has a heavy alcohol influence. Many start up’s see providing a fridge of beers with a gumball machine as normal. At the end of a a long day, it’s a way to relax and socialise together. A reward for employees going above the call of duty. Or to celebrate big events like the first major customer. Not taking part in drinking isolates people from the team and feeling connected.(more details here)


Friends did not help

Alan  found people “did not get it”. When he complained of hangovers, they said stuff like

“Ah, sure, have another one, hair of the dog. It’s the only way”.

People often  don’t know what to say when you admit to hangovers or drinking too much. There’s just so much stigma about drinking too much.


The Americans think we’re a nation of drunks

When Alan relocated to the States, he found his American colleagues only had 2 or 3 drinks a night.  To them that was a “mad night out”.  Alan felt the pressure to be the life and soul of the party. Visitors loved meeting him for a few drinks- a good night out. But while that was one night for them, it became three of four nights for him. Whenever he made a fool of himself the Americans would say,

“Oh you’re Irish, its okay

Beanyneamy tells a similar story about the Irish being seen as drunks  here.


Despite the drinking, success continued

Despite all the drinking, 10 years later, Alan succeeded in selling his company to a major multinational, who also gave him a job. However it turned out to be a dead end. His drinking got worse and he ended up in a really humiliating position after another drunken night.


He quit alcohol

So Alan quit the booze. He put his energies elsewhere. Into writing a book about his Father. He took up playing football again. Each week he made small tweaks to his lifestyle. The most important thing he did was tell himself giving up alcohol was the best decision he had ever made. It was a positive decision rather than a negative decision.An important tip for anyone trying to manage their drinking, as we describe here.


What’s in the future?

Alan’s no longer with his start up his start up. He  got made redundant a few months after giving up the booze. But because he was mentally prepared to deal with it, he was ok. He does not miss drinking at the moment and he’s not saying he’ll never drink again. He’s just living for each day as it comes and enjoying life.

Alan’s story is well worth reading here. (A subscription to the Sunday Business Post is required)


Let’s reduce the stigma about drinking too much

I admire Alan for telling his story so honestly. Even though, he’s not disclosed his name publicly, in the start-up community he will be known. The more people like him Francis, Alison, Aoife and Valerie come forward and tell their stories the more we reduce the stigma about drinking too much. Instead of labelling and blaming people as “bad” or “alcoholics” we start seeing real decent people with feelings and emotions just like you and me. People who need help not judgement. We’ll also start challenging our culture which encourages people to drink too much and stigmatises them when they do.


What’s your story?

Everyone’s story is unique. Does n’t matter whether you’re a cleaner, a top Entrepreneur like Alan or a Mother who works in the home. You are not alone in being someone who struggles with drinking too much. Don’t let the stigma about drinking too much get to you. Just like Alan, you too can have a brighter future, no matter how dark it appears at the moment.

If you”re starting to control your drinking, you might find this post here useful.

If you’d like to quickly check if you have an alcohol problem you might find this post here useful. (No names or email address needed)


Forgiving yourself for drinking too much is vital

It may sound strange but forgiving yourself for drinking too much is vital to taking control of your drinking. Many people who drink too much often feel a deep sense of shame. People of my generation will also have a good ould dose of Catholic guilt, making things even worse.  People think about the time they made an eejit of themselves at the office outing. Or were n’t able to bring the kids to the park as promised because of a hangover. So they become buried in  shame rather then focusing on what needs to change.


Release your heavy burden

By forgiving yourself, you release yourself from the heavy burden of self-judgement, guilt or regret. It is this very burden that often makes people drink more as they try to block out these horrible feelings of shame and remorse. It literally becomes too painful to sit with the feelings so they drink to block out the feelings. So forgiving yourself correctly is key and you can also learn something very valuable too.


How to start

First of all think about the event or incident that you need to forgive yourself for. Maybe you were so lost in your own drama and suffering that you did not recognise the damage you may have caused to others. Certainly in our culture, with our acceptance of heavy drinking this may be the case. So if you did not have the insight, you have now, how could you have acted differently?


A key question

But maybe despite having insights that you’re drinking too much, you still continue to drink and harm yourselves or others. So a key question to ask is what you have learned from these “mistakes”. The ancient Chinese don’t have a word for mistakes. The closest English translation is “learning opportunity”.  So referring to drinking too much as  “mistakes” sets us up for a big fall. Yet, so many treatment approaches to drinking seem to punish people for making mistakes.


Many alcohol treatments encourage shame

I read a recent article on an Irish addiction treatment centre which uses the “Minnesota” model. This treatment model is based on the AA method and sees success as not drinking at all. The language used creates shame. Residents are asked to admit they are powerless over alcohol and ask forgiveness of others for their “shortcomings”.No mention of forgiving themselves. Residents  urine is tested for traces of alcohol. At mealtimes, they stayed quiet, apart from one lady standing up to read a few lines about the impact of alcohol addiction.

No where in the article does it quote treatment  success rates. For example, the percentage of people  attending the centre whose lives are better as a result of staying in this centre.


Toddlers don’t shame themselves

Watching a child learn to walk is a good example of how we should treat ourselves.  Toddlers usually crawl first, then they start taking tiny little steps. hanging for dear life onto chairs, tables, the nearest available hand. They fall down. They may cry or laugh but they get back up again and slowly they become steadier on their feet. Then they stop falling. They learn from every fall. They don’t tell themselves they’re stupid, or shameful for falling. We seem to learn that kind of thinking later as adults.


We don’t shame toddlers

When we see toddlers falling, we don’t give out to them. We praise and encourage. We help them up again. It’s one reason, why they don’t give up. They keep trying, until finally, we’re the ones chasing around after them and trying to keep up with their running.


Don’t punish yourself

So next time you drink too much, you have four choices.

  1. Do nothing
  2. Repeat too much drinking again
  3. Beat yourself up for not being perfect and being able to control your drinking
  4. Forgive yourself and learn from what happened.

Of these four choices, the one that is most likely to help you is choice 4. Forgiving yourself and learning from what happened. What happened that made you drink too much? What was the payoff or benefit to you? (We’ll cover these in a future post)

For example

You were with friends and could not say no without feeling awkward. In this case you might find this post here useful.

If your feelings drove you to drink, you might find this post  here helpful.

Or you’ve realised you can’t do this on your own and you need more help. You might find this post here helpful.


Try forgiving yourself for drinking too much

So forgive yourself, accept what happened. Then find the learning in what happened and you’ll be further down the road to controlling your drinking.



Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were holding her back

Are your beliefs about alcohol making you miserable?  Lucy talks about how unhappy she was, when she first stopped drinking.

The way she saw  it,

“I was different now. I was weird, a failure – a social outcast”


There were no positives for drinking less

She could n’t see any of the positives of reducing her drinking. She’d grown up in a culture that adored alcohol, so not participating in that culture was really hard.

She had decided not to drink at all as she could never have just one or two. But she really wanted to drink. She saw it a part of a fun and happy life. Yes, there were health gains, but who wants to live longer if life is so rotten?


Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were making her miserable

The problem lay in Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol. She believed

1)    Alcohol makes you attractive

2)    Alcohol makes you successful

3)    Alcohol makes you cool

4)    Alcohol provides you with a better social life

5)    Alcohol transforms you into a rebel

6)    Alcohol helps you deal with stress


Lucy’s beliefs about alcohol were wrong

When you look at each of Lucy’s beliefs you can see they are actually incorrect. Lucy realised they were lies. For example

  • Alcohol does not make you more attractive. In fact who has n’t been turned off by a drunken approach?
  • Alcohol is much more likely to get in the way of your success. Whether it’s about being a successful parent (who needs a hangover when dealing with an energetic toddler or driving the teenager to GAA practise.)  Or an important early morning business meeting when you’re tired because you stayed up drinking.


A better social life?

You can argue that in Ireland, social life does revolve around the pub. If you don’t drink it’s get absolutely boring listening to other drunken conversations. But do you really want your social life to revolve around drunken conversations? There are other options, which we’ve written about here


What are your beliefs about alcohol?

So if you’re going to be in control of your drinking, it’s really important to be aware of your beliefs about alcohol and see if they are true. Writing these down can be really helpful. You might also find our course here useful  in identifying your pros and cons of drinking.

Lucy’s full post is well worth reading and can be seen here .They also have a really nice range of clothing  and goods for people who want to show they are in control of their drinking. Click here for their shop.

Low alcohol drinks can help reduce your drinking

We previously looked at using low alcohol drinks in this post here. In this post, we’ll look at some of the low alcohol drinks actually available.

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of each person understanding and picking the right approach for them. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work and social factors. Your own feelings  and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

So whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right for you is a decision only you can make.You might find these questions here helpful for making your decision.

Here’s a selection of some of the low alcohol drinks available


Alcohol free wines

First up is Torres Natureo White which has 0.5% ABV 

Price is €7.95 – Available at O’Briens, SuperValu , Tesco

Gaby served this wine to her friends without telling them it had no alcohol and they thought it was lovely. She says it is

Fruity and mild, it has flavours of nectarine, yellow plum and a floral touch”

Gaby also reviews a range of low alcohol wines in her very interesting post here. These include

  • Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate
  • Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
  • Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
  • G.D.Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2015

Gaby also tells you how much these wines cost and where you can buy them, so well worthwhile looking at her post here.


Aldi Featherweight range

Aldil launched the  Featherweight range which include a choice of Pinot Grigio or White Zinfandel in Irish stores in January. These wines retail for just €4.49 and have half the calories of other wines. Unfortunately they’ve just been withdrawn, I’m not sure why.


Alcohol free Beers

Alcohol free beers have come a long way. New beers are launching regularly. However many of them are not available in Ireland. Some beers still taste awful and most people believe they don’t taste like the real thing. But if you’re under pressure to be seen drinking they might be an option. I like  alcohol free Erdinger(alkoholfrei ) but it is very gassy so I can never drink more than one.

Some of the newer beers are getting better reviews.

Heineken recently launched the Heineken 0.0 which has no alcohol.

Also launched recently is a lager- Pure Brew from Diageo which has 0.05% volume. They claim

In independent taste tests, over 70 per cent of people were surprised to discover that they were trying a non-alcoholic beer after tasting it.”

The recommended pub price is €3.50 a bottle.


 Other low  alcohol drinks

If you can’t find any low alcohol drink that you like, you might want to try the Alcohol Free shop. They’re getting great reviews online. They sell a wide range of low alcohol drinks including beers, wines, spirits and cocktails. They ship to Ireland with a minimum order of 6 bottles which can be all different. They’ve  put together mixed cases so you don’t even have to choose. Click here for their website.


Low alcohol drinks can be a good option

There is certainly still some way to go before the range of alcohol free drinks matches their alcohol versions.  In England there’s a much wider range available with lower prices.

However the newer drinks are worth trying and can be a useful part of your tool kit for reducing your drinking.

If you’d like to find out more about reducing alcohol harm please click here.

Switching off from news can help your mood

The  news  affected a lot of people this week. It’s been an awful  rollercoaster of a week for Irish women. The violent deaths of 2 young women, the 24 year old student Jastine Valdez and the 13 year old Anna Kriegel. The referendum passing. An end finally, to all those awful posters and sad stories of so many women. Saoirse Long’s video of her own story stood out so strongly for me. Her pain and anguish  would move most people.


Can the media make us feel bad?

I was following the commentary on Twitter on all the above events. So many comments were just vile and abusive. A common thread was any women who believed things had to change was “mansplained”. Mansplaining is where someone, (typically a man) explains things in a patronising and condescending fashion. So we had a man (not a doctor) explaining pregnancy to a female Professor of obstetrics. Eventually I had to stop watching social media and listening to the news. It just became so depressing. It also really brought home to me how women are seen as inferior to men.


Stop listening to bad news

When trying to control your drinking, it’s vital  to surround yourself with positive things which will improve your mood. It’s so much easier to resist temptation when we’re  feeling upbeat and happy.

For me, listening to all this bad news was bringing me down. But my smartphone is very addictive and it’s hard to stay away from it. So what I did was mute all the negative conversations and played CD’s instead of listening to the radio.

It really made a difference, it helped reduced my “always on feeling” which can be so exhausting. So you might find it useful to try it for a few days. It does not mean you don’t care, it simply means you’re taking time out.


Calming our minds

Reducing my smartphone use, I’ve realised I’ve gotten into the habit of  when I’m supposed to be relaxing, my mind was still really active.  So I ‘m only now becoming aware that even when I thought I was relaxing, I wasn’t!

I was still thinking of all the things I have to do. So I’m not really relaxing. So I’ve decided to become more aware of my thoughts and make sure to do a meditation at least once a day

For me having time on my own in total silence without feeling pressure to do anything is a must. I get so little of this.  I’ve found the Headspace app very useful for switching off and becoming more aware. But I download the programme first and then turn to airplane mode so I don’t get interrupted by the phone notifications.


Walking in nature

I’m also going to get back into a short walk in the hills once a week as being in nature always makes me feel more “grounded.” I enjoy seeing how the different seasons change the appearance of the hills. Even though it seems like nothing is changing, beneath the surface there’s always change as the plants and animals do their work.


Yes the news can affect us

So as the referendum passes with an overwhelming majority, I find my mood lifting. Abortion is always bad news. It means a woman is in difficulty. But now at least as a society, we’ve decided rather than be judgemental and controlling of  women we’ve decided to be kind and compassionate.  We are now respecting women and allowing us the freedom to make our own choices. And that is good news. So as I write my mood is happier.


Why not try switching off?

So maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and feel you’re not making enough progress on controlling your drinking. The very fact that you’ve even read this far, means change is happening.  With all this good weather, now is a good time to try a walk in nature.  So be kind to yourself. Take some time away from the news and social media. You might be surprised at the difference it makes to your drinking.


For more practical tips on controlling your drinking click here.

Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

Is it your fault if you drink too much alcohol?

Most people believe if you drink too much alcohol, it’s your own fault. While we’re great believers in taking personal responsibility for ourselves, this approach totally ignores the role of society and advertising in influencing us. If society in general took the issue of alcohol harm seriously maybe we would not have been brainwashed.  We would not have grown up with the belief that  drinking alcohol is a normal and essential part of an everyday happy life.


The brainwashing starts  when we’re children

The research shows the brainwashing starts early. The majority of Irish children at just eight years old, think being Irish means you have to drink

drink too much alcohol


So from a very early age, we see alcohol as being a normal, everyday part of our lives. As we wrote last week, there are no warning labels on alcohol. So we see it, as just a safe every day product. After all, if it was that toxic we’d be told.


The pressure to drink is everywhere

Every occasion involves drinking. We see it in the media all the time. Last Monday’s Irish Times front page shows a big photo. The winning Leinster rugby team in the dressing room spraying each other with beer and drinking cans of beer.

All those birthday cards encouraging you to drink more on your birthday. The Prosecco parties for yesterday’s  royal wedding. The communion drinks while the kids play on the bouncy castles.


Not being able to drink is a problem

This week, I was talking to a woman going on an important business trip with potential customers. With a heavy cold she said she would not be drinking. Her work manager and colleagues insisted the customers might not enjoy the trip as much. So, she had to be sure to have at least one!


People who can’t control their drinking are the problem

So our society loves alcohol and we’re pressurised into drinking. Anybody who attempts to drink less or not drink at all are stigmatised. They are seen as the problem.  To make this situation even worse, as people who realise they have a problem discover, finding help is very difficult.

Despite numerous reports over many years, services to help people manage their drinking are underfunded and have long waiting lists. There is also no independent regulation of alcohol treatment services to make sure they are actually helping people. No clinical audit or look back for them.


The cervical cancer screening scandal

Which brings us to the cervical cancer screening scandal. Nowhere is the contrast between our attitudes to alcohol and other health problems more obvious than in the reporting and reaction to the cervical cancer scandal.

Heroic, brave courageous women like  Vicky Phelan    and  Emma Mhic Mhathúna  have come forward. They’ve  rightly called for accountability in how they were treated in the cervical cancer screening. It’s been a top news item for nearly four weeks now. Already the Government has promised action with parliamentary hearings and supports for women affected.

Now imagine if these heroes have come forward and said their terminal breast  cancer had been caused by too much alcohol but this had been missed on screening. It would not be news. There would be little or no sympathy. They certainly would not be seen as heroic.


Women who tell their alcohol stories are not interesting

Women like  Senator Frances Black, Alison Canavan and  Valerie Farragher  who have told their alcohol harm stories simply don’t generate the same interest. They‘re not terminally ill. But they speak for the hundreds of  people who are now dead as a result of alcohol harm.  When they speak, there’s an initial newspaper article or two, maybe a radio interview or even a documentary. But then silence. No legislation, parliamentary inquiries or extra supports for them. It’s their fault. They drink too much alcohol.


In one month alcohol kills the same amount of  people as  cervical cancer does in a year

We rightly have a cervical cancer screening programme. Cervical cancer kills 89 women a year. In one month alone, alcohol harm kills 88 men and women. Yet there is no alcohol screening programme.

So alcohol harm kills  the same  amount of people in a month than cervical cancer does in a year . Yet we have no screening programme for alcohol. Nor is anybody calling for one.

drink to much alcohol

Would you drink too much alcohol if you knew?

If you had known when you were younger, about all the health risks of alcohol would you be drinking as much?

If your GP asked you about your drinking, when you went for an antibiotic last time,  would you be drinking as much?

So next time, you’re feeling ashamed about the fact you  drink too much alcohol, show yourself some compassion. We’re all influenced by what goes on around us and we grew up in an alcohol obsessed culture.  So it will most likely be more difficult than it should be to get your alcohol drinking under control.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re conditioned into drinking too much, click here.

If you’d like to support a petition to change our culture around alcohol please, click here.

if you’d like to know more about reducing alcohol related harm, please click here.


Are low alcohol drinks worth trying?

We covered alcohol free and low alcohol drinks previously, but there’s been a lot of developments, so it’s worth revisiting.

There’s huge interest in the sector now. Awareness of alcohol harm is growing, so the alcohol industry see it as one of the future  growth sectors. Irish  sales are now up to €10 million. Still tiny as part of the overall market, but going in the right direction and new drinks are being developed all the time.


What is low alcohol?

It’s actually very confusing as different labelling regulations apply in different countries. In most EU countries, drinks containing up to 0.5% alcohol are classified as “alcohol free”

While this may seem strange, when you know ripe fruit such as bananas have a trace of alcohol it makes more sense.

Drinks that contain no alcohol at all, are called “non-alcoholic” drinks.

England labels low alcohol drinks as more than 0.5% alcohol but  no more than 1.2%


What are the Irish regulations?

Strangely we could not find any. You can see the empty  screen on alcohol  from the Food Safety Authority website below.

low alcohol


Plenty of guidelines though  protecting the  alcohol industry, You can see below details of  laws protecting brewers from competition, by controlling what  brewers can put on labels.

low alcohol


When we got onto the Food Safety Authority, they stated alcohol labelling for consumers, was a matter for the Department of Health. We could not find any guidelines to protect consumers there either.


No regulations to protect our health!

According to Alcohol Action Ireland there is no labelling provisions for alcoholic beverages above 1.2% apart from the fact these products must display volume, ABV, as well as producer matters such as name and country of origin.

Proposals for labelling alcohol are currently being discussed at EU level and you can see Alcohol Action Ireland’s submission here. Again, alcohol industry lobbying has slowed this whole process down.

Currently washing machine powder has more warning labels than alcohol!

So a product that kills 3 people a day has no warning labels! It shows once again,  how  so many people end up drinking too much. Alcohol harm is not being given the attention it deserves.


Can low alcohol drinks help manage drinking?

As Lucy says there are very mixed views on this.  I have n’t found any reliable scientific research so far but views seem to fall into two camps.

People who have past experience of drinking too much or a  physical dependence on alcohol are probably better avoiding low alcohol drinks as it creates too much temptation to drink again. This camp think even trifles with sherry in them should not be eaten.

The other group think  people without a physical dependence on alcohol can use low alcohol drinks as a way to drink less.

Personally, I think it’s more complex than this.

What’s right for you?

As regular readers will know we’re big fans of understanding what the right approach is for each person. So whether low alcohol drinks will work for you will depend on your individual health, lifestyle, work, family and social factors. Your own motivation and enthusiasm for change are also really important.

The important thing is to get started. Whether cutting out all drinks with alcohol or drinking low alcohol drinks is right is a decision only you can make.

In a future post we’ll  look at  some of the more popular alcohol free drinks from wine to beer.


If you found this post interesting, you might find Lucy’s views here on whether  not drinking at all or drinking less useful

Life tips from a concentration camp on reducing drinking

A few people asked about our  reducing drinking post last week. That maybe we were encouraging people to be Pollyanna. Older readers will remember Pollyanna as a book later adapted into films where a young girl called Pollyanna had this really positive and happy approach to life.


What’s wrong with Pollyanna?

So yes, Pollyanna could be sickly sweet, but what is wrong with being grateful for the little things in life? The opposite approach to ignore all the nice little things, and how does that help? Being grateful for the little things in life, has lots of benefits and even improves our  mental health

A very famous book, written in a concentration camp showed  how we interpret what happens us  can even make the difference between life and death.


The search for meaning

Victor Frankl wrote one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read called.

“Man’s search for meaning”

A prisoner in a concentration camp, he observed how different prisoners, guards and himself behaved in this awful situation. He then came to a number of conclusions on why some prisoners died and others survived. Many of his conclusions can be helpful in  when trying to reduce drinking.


Changing a situation

Victor writes

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

With our drinking culture, it can be very difficult to control our drinking. It can feel like a helpless situation. We can feel “why us”, when everybody else goes on drinking merrily.  But rather getting down and feeling helpless, we need to accept this is the way it is. We find it difficult to control our drinking. So we should look at what we can do to change things. We’ve discussed  ways of dealing with this from drinking low alcohol drinks, to new social activities, to saying No to friends.

As Victor says

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms,—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

So if Victor can do this in the horrific concentration camp situation, it can inspire us to take action and go against social norms.


Don’t aim for success

The traditional way of managing success is to count the number of days a person has stayed off the drink.

“I’m 100 days sober, or I’m 100 days AF” (Alcohol free)

If someone has one drink, then they’re back to zero days. So many people who  lose their “success” in controlling drink, by having one drink  then go on an almighty binge. They say something like

“Sure if I have one, I may as well finish off the whole bottle” 

Then they next day, they wake up hungover, feeling ashamed and guilty.

On the issue of success, Victor says

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

So unless it is helping  you, don’t focus on  the number of days, you’ve not had a drink as a “success”.

Do set goals for your drinking as we’ve described here, but don’t measure your success solely on these goals. Try to have a purpose outside of yourself, this could be anything from

  • Helping out with your elderly parents
  • Supporting your children’s GAA club
  • Helping the new young employee settle in to work
  • On your daily commute, listening  to a podcast  about an area or hobby  that interests you.


Can a concentration camp book really help in reducing drinking?

A concentration camp experience is so far beyond what most of us will ever experience. Hopefully there will never again be such a massive production factory of pure evil.

The book may seem to have no relevance to reducing drinking. But reducing drinking is not just a physical act. In our alcohol soaked culture, it requires a different attitude and a willingness to be an “outsider” to normal social culture as Simon describes so well here.

The conclusions Victor draws, which later became the basis of a new field of psychotherapy can be really helpful in trying to make sense of our lives. Making sense of our lives can help in reducing drinking.  This book really helped me, I hope it helps you.

Many public libraries have copies of this small book, which has been read by millions. It’s well worth reading.









Being grateful can make you happier and help manage your drinking

Being grateful can really help when we’re trying to manage our drinking. It can be very easy to get totally negative about trying to reduce our drinking.

“Everybody else can drink normally, why can’t I?

“Why do my friends make it so difficult to not to drink?”

“I have no social life, now that I’m not drinking”

“Why am I finding it so difficult to control my drinking”?

So how to stop getting into the cycle of negativity? Here’s a few tips.


Being grateful that you’re trying to reduce your drinking

I know this sounds crazy, after all in our alcohol obsessed society, this is pretty challenging. But if you’re trying to reduce your drinking, you actually have more awareness of alcohol harm than most Irish people. You’re ahead of the crowd.  The majority of Irish people who drink, are harming themselves according to the Health Research Board.

So be grateful, that you have more awareness of the harm that alcohol does than many Irish people.


Saying thanks

Many people have commentated on the Irish habit of saying thanks when we get off the bus. I always feel more positive when I say thanks to the bus driver with all the other passengers as I get off. Showing appreciation to the bus driver makes me value the fact that the bus got me to my destination. I enjoy this lovely nice Irish habit and it makes me feel happy. So saying thanks and appreciating what you have can make you feel happier.

Focus on what we have

The writer David Steindl-Rast argues in daily life, gratefulness makes us happy. Susan Jeffers states if we focus on what we have, we feel better. If we focus on what we lack our life feels lacking. So if we focus on drinking less as a negative we’re more likely to feel bad. If we concentrate on the fact that we’re great for trying to drink less, we‘re more likely to feel happy.


But I can’t pay my mortgage, there’s no wine and the kids are hungry

It’s really hard to be grateful if you’re in this situation as many Irish families are. I know one family in this situation. They had a really tough time and even lost the ownership of their house. But they kept focusing on the positives – their children were healthy, they had friends they could borrow from. It was tough and stressful. But they remained happy, because they were grateful for what they have.


Try to be grateful for alcohol cravings

Alcohol cravings can be really tough. It’s a major reason why many people don’t control their drinking. So why would you be grateful for them?  Well, try reframing it. See the alcohol cravings as a concrete sign you’re taking really positive action to control your drinking. Then alcohol cravings become a badge of progress. (Note, this assumes you don’t have a physical dependence on alcohol, which needs medical attention. You can find out more here)

You can find more tips on managing cravings  here.


Getting started on being grateful

A useful tip for getting started is before you go to sleep, think of ten things that happened on the day that you are grateful for.  These can be big or little things. Initially you might find it difficult but start really small. Last night my 10 things were

  1. I had a nice chat with my sister
  2. I saw the most  beautiful pink cherry blossom tree in full bloom  as I was stuck in traffic
  3. The building work for a downstairs disability bathroom for my elderly parents is going well
  4. I saw a little child laughing happily with her  Dad on the way to school
  5. I managed to get in a full hour of hydrotherapy
  6. I managed to get enough of the paid work I needed to do, done
  7. My daughter had a good day in work
  8. I met my new neighbour for the first time
  9. The garden bed I’ve not gotten to weed is now actually blooming with lovely yellow flowers!
  10. I managed to stay patient with my Dad when his hearing aids just kept making that horrible high pitched squealing sounds in the car (think nails on a black board )

So why not try thinking of your ten happy things before you go to sleep? It can help you sleep better and really make a difference to daily life.