We drink to celebrate, socialise, commiserate or deal with stress. But drinking too much, too often, or for too long can cause problems with your health, work and relationships. If you or someone else is worried about how much you’re drinking, find out what you can do about it.
If you think you have a problem
The Australian guidelines recommend having no more than two standard drinks per day to reduce the risk of long-term alcohol-related problems. To avoid the risk of short-term injury, the guidelines recommend no more than four standard drinks at any one time. Drinking no more than 10 standard drinks per week is recommended to reduce the risk of harm from long-term alcohol-related disease.
These amounts come as a shock to most Australians, especially when they learn the definition of a 'standard drink'.
How much are you drinking?
You might be surprised by the size of a standard drink. A ‘glass’ is not the same as a standard drink. You could be drinking more standard drinks per day than you realise.
You can also use the Track tool in the ON TRACK with The Right Mix app to track your drinking in real time.
Alcohol has different effects on different people, and there’s no hard and fast rule about when drinking becomes a problem.
What we do know is the more you drink and the longer you’ve been drinking, the more likely it is your drinking will cause problems.
For example, it might become hard for you to do your work, take care of things at home, spend time on hobbies, or get along with other people.
Listen to your friends and family: have they commented on how much you’re drinking? If so, your drinking might have become a problem, even if you don’t feel like it has.
Is your drinking putting you at risk?
Understanding how drinking impacts on your life can help you to decide whether you need to change your drinking habits.
Answer some questions to find out how risky your drinking is.
You can also use the 'Track' tool in the 'ON TRACK with The Right Mix' app to track your drinking over time and then find out your Wellbeing Score Chart.
Build an action plan to manage your drinking
If you’ve decided to change your drinking habits, you need to work out whether your goal is to cut back a bit or stop drinking completely. Your goals should be specific, achievable and broken down into manageable steps.
For example, you might say: "My goal is to only drink two beers a day. I’m going to cut back by one beer a day until I reach that goal."
Once you’ve worked out what you want to do, you can write yourself a contract. This is an important part of starting to change and will help you stay on track.
It’s really important to keep an eye on how much and how often you’re drinking. Keeping track of your drinking will help you learn more about when, where, and why you drink.
A diary is a good way of tracking your drinking, including the financial cost and a record of any problems it causes. It also helps you check your progress against your goals.
Find enjoyable and rewarding activities other than drinking
Making changes can be hard, but having fun activities and rewards for yourself can help motivate you to stay on track.
Use the Enjoyable and Rewarding Activities tool to identify activities and plan how you will do them. Choose activities that will be good alternatives to drinking, as well as some activities that you can use to reward yourself when you start to reach your goals.
Use this tool when you are planning to make changes, or once you have already started. You can also use the tool whenever you get stuck for activity ideas.
Sometimes people drink more than they should when they’re worried about other aspects of their life. Having more social connections, getting better at problem solving and learning to manage unpleasant feelings are really important ways of changing your drinking behaviour.
Learn to solve problems without turning to alcohol
If you are finding it hard to deal with your problems you might begin to feel overwhelmed and turn to alcohol to cope.
The Problem Solving tool will guide you through a step-by-step process for tackling day-to-day problems to help you to feel more in control of issues in your life.
Getting professional help
Self-help isn’t for everyone. If you’ve tried self-help strategies and are still having trouble changing your drinking habits, or if you’re worried you have a serious alcohol problem and you need additional support, other options are available:
- Counselling is an effective treatment in helping you change your drinking habits. Call Open Arms on 1800 011 046, support is available 24/7 for veterans and their family.
- A GP is a good place to start when trying to overcome alcohol problems. Your GP can also manage your general health issues and make referrals for specialists if necessary.
- National Drugs Campaign provides information on state-based alcohol and drug services.
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation provides information, resources and programs to prevent alcohol and other drug harm in Australian communities.