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.

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy wine, sleepy beer and angry spirits

Brian Boyd has a really interesting article headlined  “ Sexy wine, sleepy beer and angry spirits” describing  a new study published on the effects of different drinks.

It looked at drinking in 21 different countries surveying 30,000 people. It was a self reported study. This means people themselves reported how they were feeling, rather than their friends and families.

We all know drink affects our moods but do different drinks create different moods?

 

Different drinks create different moods

The study found that different drinks changed people’s moods differently.

For example, people drinking red wine reported higher feelings of relaxation at 53% than people drinking spirits who only felt feelings of relaxation 20% of the time.

While spirits scored higher in feelings on confident and sexy (42%) it also scored much higher on people feeling aggressive (33%).

We’ve summarised the key feelings below for each drink.

sexy wine

 

 Where we drink affects our feelings

According to the study, if we drink outside the home we’re more likely to feel energised than if we drink at home.

I wonder is this because we’re more likely to be drinking with a group of people when we’re out?

We’re much more likely to feel relaxed when we’re drinking at home.

 

Women more emotional when drinking

Women are much more likely to report feeling all emotions apart from feelings of aggression.  This make sense as men are more likely to be involved in alcohol related violence.

 

The range of feelings can indicate a problem

An interesting finding was the higher the range of emotions, (sad,relaxed, confident etc)  a person felt,  the more likely  the person was to have a physical dependence on alcohol.

In particular if people felt aggression they were much more likely to report problems with drinking.

Where people drank did not affect whether they were likely to have problems with drinking.

 

Sexy wine is not so sexy

I’ve always found red sexy wine not only gives me a very unsexy hangover but also makes me feel really low the next day.

If can be really useful to understand how different drinks affect you and to choose your drinks accordingly.

For example, if the last time you drank vodka you ended up in angry argument, it might be worthwhile asking yourself if this happened because you drank vodka. If the answer is yes, it might be worthwhile avoiding vodka in the future. Here’s an interesting  few ways you can get rid of any vodka in the house without throwing it in the bin!

If you’d like to read the full  research article you can find it here. 

If you’d like some tips on preventing hangovers  please click here.

Photo by Mark Daynes on Unsplash

10 tips if your feelings are making you drink too much

In previous posts we explained how childhood emotional neglect can make you drink too much. We  also described  how to recognise the signs of childhood emotional neglect.  This week we give some tips from Dr Jonice Webb on how to recover from childhood emotional neglect.

 

 1.Ask yourself regularly how are you feeling?

Very often people brought up in families that did not openly discuss emotions don’t know how they feel. During the day stop and ask yourself how are you feeling? Initially this may be difficult so just ask yourself are you feeling positive or negative?

 

2.Accept your feelings

Don’t judge or criticise yourself. Just accept the feeling. Becoming aware of your feelings and accepting your feelings is a major step towards resolving your childhood emotional abuse.  Once you start accepting your feelings and not criticising yourself it’s easier to not drink too much. The need for the emotional crutch alcohol provides is reduced.

 

3.Identify your own needs

Very often people who experienced emotional neglect as children don’t know what they want or don’t feel they deserve to have their own needs met. So imagine you have a magic wand and could immediately grant yourself three wishes. What would those three wishes be?

 

4.Imagine a kind person helping you

If you still find identifying your own needs  difficult, don’t despair. You might be a successful first class honours graduate from Trinity with an amazing career and family. However if your feelings have not been acknowledged as a child, and it was all about career success, this can still be really tough.

It helps to recognise that you’ve grown up with a belief your feelings are not important. But this belief is not a fact and it’s not true. So imagine a really kind person who loves you no matter what. Some people find imagining themselves as a young child works. Imagine that kind person or child gently telling you what you need. What would they say?

 

5.Ask yourself questions

Asking your self questions about your feelings can also be helpful

For example

What’s wrong?

How do you feel?

What do you want?

What are you afraid of?

What are you worried about?

What’s making you angry, sad, hurt, etc.?

The answers to these questions will help you to start unlocking and understanding your feelings.

 

6.Small steps work

Adults who experienced emotional neglect as children often have difficulty  looking after their own needs (self-care). Frequently.they look after everybody else but themselves. Often they are carers in very stressful situations who then hit the bottle at night to keep going. So be very gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself with compassion and kindness as if you are talking to a small child.

For example, Instead of saying

“I drink too much because I’m lazy, stupid and can’t cope”

Try saying

“I’m in a really stressful situation and that’s why I’m drinking too much. But I’m becoming more aware of the need to manage my drinking”

You’ll be surprised how even this very small change in thinking will help.

 

7.Be Patient

It takes time to unlearn old ways of behaving. After all if during your entire childhood your feelings were ignored, you are not going to change this overnight.

As the Japanese proverb says

“Fall seven times, stand up eight is success.”

8.Use these tips when you’re feeling bad, sad etc.

While these tips are really simple, they really do help.  I find when I’m feeling numb or bad just becoming aware I’m feeling like this really helps. In my case, it’s often because I have a very unrealistic belief that everything I do must be perfect.

 

9. Accept we drink too much for a reason

As Valerie says

“You don’t wake up & go ‘I’ll drink a litre of vodka and destroy everything around me’,”

In Valerie’s case, she was was treated for 10 years for alcohol abuse, before finally post natal depression was diagnosed. So we drink too much for a reason.

If you’re finding it difficult to cut back on your drinking, try and identify the reasons why rather than just blaming yourself. If it’s childhood emotional neglect, these tips will really help.

You might also  find our short course on the pro’s and con’s of drinking helpful.

 

10. Read the book

This material has been drawn the book

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.

We’ve  recommended this book to a number of people who have all found it very useful. So worth reading.

7 signs your emotions are making you drink more alcohol

In our last post we described childhood emotional neglect and how it can make you drink more alcohol

While we may come from a loving caring family, very often our parents never learned to acknowledge our feelings. or emotions. Because this is something that did n’t happen, we’re often totally unaware.

This lack  of  parental support for feelings is called childhood emotional neglect.

As we described previously if we’ve experienced childhood emotional neglect we tend to blame ourselves for whatever is wrong in our lives.  Often  we tend to  drink more alcohol to make ourselves feel better.

Dr Jonice Webb PhD a leading expert in this field lists 7 signs of growing up with childhood emotional neglect.

 

1.Feelings of emptiness

Some people just feel numb. Others have an empty feeling in their belly, or chest or throat.  The feeling may not be there all the time, it may come and go. Often people drink more alcohol to make the feeling go away and feel better.

 

2.Fear of being dependent

Some people find they never want help from anybody. This is not a normal healthy need to be independent but a total unwillingness to let anybody help.  These people find the thought of being dependent on anybody really frightening. As they get older and maybe they get less physically able they tend to drink more to push away the fear of becoming dependent on others.

 

3.Unrealistic self-appraisal

Some people find they don’t understand themselves very well. They don’t understand their strengths and weakness or know what they can do well. They tend not to have a clear purpose in life or even understand what they like or dislike.

 

4.No compassion for yourself, plenty for others

Some people are always helping their friends and colleagues, listening to their problems with empathy and compassion. They provide lots of practical support to their friends. Yet they find it hard to be kind themselves and won’t discuss their own problems with friends and family. They often berate themselves for not doing more or for needing time out to relax because they are totally exhausted.

 

5.Guilt, shame, self-directed anger and blame

Guilt, shame, anger and blame; The Fabulous Four.  People with childhood emotional neglect direct a lot of this at themselves.  They do something minor wrong and become very self-critical. For example being 10 minutes late for an appointment means a day or two  spent criticising themselves for being lazy and unpunctual.

Or a daughter gets poor marks in school and they blame themselves for not helping enough with homework.

So the glass of wine becomes a great ally for numbing these painful feelings.

  

6.Feeling fatally flawed

This often feels like other people don’t like you. It’s an underlying sense that

“I’m flawed”

“Something is wrong with me”

“I’m not like other people”

Many people drink too much to push these feelings away.

 

7.Difficulty feeling, identifying, managing and/or expressing emotions

Often people feel they can’t speak out on what they actually feel. This can be because they don’t feel they have the right to speak about their feelings or because they don’t actually have the right words to describe their feelings.

They often feel confused about what other people do or even what they do.

They may feel very uncomfortable when people talk with emotion e.g. people talking with anger or sadness.

 

Do any of these signs ring  a bell with you?

The more of these signs you can identify with, the more likely it is that you experienced childhood emotional neglect.

This is not saying that our parents did not love us, but they did not have the skills to help us deal with our feelings or emotions.

So the less in touch we are with our feelings the more likely it is we’ll turn to drink to make ourselves feel better.

 

What to Do?

If you’re feeling childhood emotional neglect applies to you, don’t panic. By simply being aware of it you’ve just taken a major step towards fixing this problem.

In a future post we‘ll look at how to get more in touch with your feelings and deal with the effects of childhood emotional neglect.

 

Are your feelings making you drink more alcohol?

If you’ve experienced childhood emotional abuse, you’re not alone if you’ve taken to drinking more alcohol.   So try not to constantly criticise yourself as this is more likely to encourage you to drink more. If you find it impossible not to constantly criticise yourself, you may find support from a counsellor helpful. Our tips for finding the right counsellor for you can be found here

Or you may find Dr Jonice’s book “Running on empty”  helpful.

 

Is emotional neglect making you drink more?

The term childhood emotional neglect is becoming better known and understood. It refers to a failure by parents to respond to a child’s feelings on a regular basis.

 

Ciara  is emotionally neglected

Ciara’s  friends gang up on her on in the playground.  She comes home from school feeling sad. Ciara’s parent’s don’t notice her sadness. Neither says,

“Ciara are you OK?” or

“Did something happen at school today?”

They help Ciara with her homework and then bring her to Irish dancing.  They tell her she is a smart kid and great at the dancing. No one seems to notice that anything is wrong. Ciara says nothing about feeling sad.

 

Emotional neglect is not a once off event

Now if it’s just one time, that Ciara’s parents don’t notice her sadness, it won’t do any damage to her development. But if it keeps happening then Ciara learns that her feelings are not important. She learns not to acknowledge or accept her feelings.

 

Emotional neglect can be invisible

It’s much easier to see if there is physical neglect or if a child is not getting enough to eat. It’s much harder to see emotional neglect. It’s a failure by parents to do something, so it is much more invisible.

Think about something that happened yesterday. Now try and think of something that did not happen yesterday. It’s a lot harder to do this.

 

But my childhood was very happy

Angela often finds that clients tell her their childhood was very happy. They had loving parents, who were always there for them, with a nice home and plenty of support. It’s only later on in the counselling process they begin to realise their parents did not help them to deal with their feelings. The support was always for practical things like dinners, homework help and driving. Feelings however were rarely  discussed.

If feelings are rarely discussed, then we believe feelings are not important. Yet all the research shows that being aware and accepting our feelings is a really important part of mental health and happiness.

 

Parents can only give what they have

This is not to blame parents. If our parents  were not brought up to deal with their feelings then it’s unlikely they can help us  deal with our feelings. So without outside help or self-development the cycle of emotional neglect continues.

 

We’re more likely to drink too much if we have emotional neglect

The research suggests that women who fail to learn how to handle feelings like anxiety and depression are much more likely to drink too much.  They are also much more likely to get pregnant earlier

In his  Irish Paradox book, Sean Moncrieff thinks the reason we all drink too much is so we can share our feelings and not have them reported back to us the next day. We Irish are funny. we don’t do feelings.

 

Drinking too much?

If you’re drinking too much and finding it difficult to control your drinking, childhood emotional neglect may be a cause.

A really important point is not too berate yourself for failing to control your drinking. People with childhood emotional neglect tend to be very self-critical. Instead tell yourself you’re trying and that’s a big start.  Every time you drink too much, try and learn from what happened, rather than criticising yourself. As you can see from the wheel of change picture  below, failing is an important part of changing behaviour.

emotional neglect

 

How do I know if I have childhood emotional neglect?

People with childhood emotional neglect often ask themselves

“I have it all, why don’t I feel happier?”

“I have this empty feeling which only drink takes away”

“I feel like I’m an outsider.”

“What is wrong with me?”

“Why do I struggle so much with controlling my drinking?”

 

There are 7 key signs of childhood emotional neglect and these are described here.

Dr Jonice Webb has a really good questionnaire on identifying childhood emotional neglect.  Click here for the questionnaire

6 top tips to feel happy

We’ve been working with the nice folks in Mental Health Ireland and thought you might find their top tips  to  feel happy useful.

1.Connect

The research shows people with good social relationships tend to be happier. This is n’t about spending time on social media but actually meeting people face to face.

So try to make time every day to chat to people you know- even if it’s just a 15 minute chat with a work colleague away from your work desk.

If you’re finding it difficult to connect to people, because in Ireland it always seems to involve drinking you can find out about alcohol free events here.

 

2.Be Active

You’ don’t have to get all sweaty to be active. A daily walk to the shop instead of taking a car is great. Even better is a relaxing walk in nature- such as the beach or country side. It really does help me to feel happy and more grounded. Exercise is also great for filling the wine shaped bottle hole as Lucy explains here.

You can find lots of help on getting more active here.

 

3.Take notice

Life is so busy, it’s easy to just rush from one thing to another. Actually stopping for a moment and paying attention to our own thoughts, feelings and the world around us can make a big difference.

 

4. Keep Learning

Learning new ‘things’ can boost our self-confidence, self-esteem, build a sense of purpose and help us connect with others.  It does not have to be classroom type learning, even trying out a new cooking recipe helps.

 

5. Give

From small acts of kindness to volunteering, giving can give us a sense of purpose, community and connection to others. Giving can be a simple as saying thanks to the bus driver.

We would add a caution, on giving though.  Sometimes people who are drinking too much or in relationships where the other person is drinking too much can be “co-dependent”.

Co-dependent is a word used to describe people who give too much. So if this is you, giving more will not help you feel better. You can find out more about co-dependency here.

One final tip  from us.

 

6.Drink less

Stay within the low risk drinking limits shown below and you’ll start feeling better. It may take a while, but even moving towards one day a week without alcohol will make a difference.

feel happy

If you would like more information on safer drinking click here.

 

Interested in more stuff  which will help you feel happy?

If you liked these tips, Mental health Ireland run free “mind your mental health” courses nationwide which you might enjoy. Find out more here

 

Even moderate drinking affects your brain power

It’s so hard to know what is safe moderate drinking. Different countries use different measures and there are so many  research studies saying  different things from moderate drinking protects your heart to there is no safe level of drinking.

 

 Why is there so much confusion about moderate drinking?

A big problem is the money spent by big alcohol to fight  efforts by government and public health care professionals  to develop common standards. Recently here in Ireland they launched an “independent” report stating alcohol consumption was declining when alcohol consumption actually went up 5% in Ireland last year.

Many of the earlier studies showing there are health benefits from moderate drinking are now shown to be flawed. They compared people who had given up drinking for health reasons to people who were still drinking. This meant the people who had given up drinking had more health problems than the people who were still drinking!

 

There is no safe level of drinking

The reputable British journal  the  Lancet brought together a number of experts who concluded that overall alcohol is a more harmful drug than even heroin or cocaine.

So the public health experts have concluded there is no safe level of drinking.

So now they talk about low risk drinking limits and moderate drinking.  For women this is  eleven or less standard drinks and two drink free days. See the picture below for an example of a low risk drinking week.

  moderate drinking

 

Even moderate drinking decreases your brain power

Worryingly a new research study states that even moderate drinking can affect your brain power. The researchers did brain function tests including  MRI scans and adjusted for age, social class and smoking. They found that even those people drinking to low risk guidelines were more likely to have damage known as hippocampal atrophy. The hippocampus is a key part of the brain for remembering and learning. The researchers found  even moderate drinking  affects memory and ability to move around spaces.

The more people drank the more brain damage they had.

 You can see a report on the study here.

  

The majority of people who drink, drink too much.

In the same article, of 800 people who responded 57% felt they needed to reduce their drinking. This confirms earlier HRB reports that the majority of Irish people who drink are abusing alcohol.  

 

 moderate drinking

 

 

Reducing your drinking is a good idea

So for the sake of our poor brain and to reduce the risk of dementia we should reduce the amounts we drink. For some quick tips on reducing the harm that drinking can cause  please click here.