As the nation comes out of lockdown, many of us have found we are drinking more alcohol than ever – but how much is too much?
Sobriety coach Simon Chapple, from the UK, who is the author of The Sober Survival Guide, says there are many tell tale signs that you may have a drink problem – adding that if you recognise these in yourself then it is time to take action.
The expert advises that if your social life revolves around alcohol, you’ve let your responsibilities slide and you have forgetfulness when you drink, it’s likely that you’re drinking too much.
Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Simon, who used to be a ‘very heavy drinker’ and would regularly consume 2-3 bottles of wine an evening, said: ‘One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to those who are worried about their drinking is to admit that you have a problem and then take action.
‘It doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed in quitting the first few times you try – just keep going and surround yourself with information and support from others and you will succeed.’
Scroll down to reveal Simon’s 11 tell tale signs of an excessive drinker….
Sobriety coach Simon Chapple, from the UK, who is the author of The Sober Survival Guide, says there are many tell tale signs that you may have a drink problem. Pictured, stock image
1. Does your entire social life revolve around alcohol?
If it does, it may be a sign that you need to cut back. Be totally honest with yourself by adding up how much time each week you spend drinking, thinking about drinking and recovering from the effects of boozing.
Spend time rediscovering the hobbies and activities that bring you real joy to find a healthier way to spend the time.
2. Confirmation bias
It’s a common form of denial when you know in your heart that you’re drinking too much.
When I was drinking heavily, I used to Google my symptoms to see if they matched mine – but like all of us, I ignored the symptoms that I didn’t like and only paid attention to the ones I wanted to hear.
By doing this, I was able to confirm to myself that my drinking was under control, even though it wasn’t.
Simon Chapple (pictured) has shared 11 signs you are drinking too much
3. Are you letting your responsibilities slide?
Are you pulling your weight at home and at work? If you’re not, is it because you’re hungover after heavy drinking the night before?
If you wake up every morning with a hangover and can’t function normally, it’s time to stop drinking.
Once you acknowledge you may be drinking too much the next step is to begin educating yourself and learning about the benefits of an alcohol-free life.
4. Do you look for reassurance?
When you joke about your drinking habits to others, do you hope that they will reassure you that you don’t drink too much? This is another form of confirmation bias and a sure sign that things are out of control.
Confirmation bias is when we only pay attention to the information we want to hear, we might ignore a news article about the dangers of alcohol but would happily share a social media post telling us that wine is good for the heart.
Pay attention when you catch yourself doing this, dig beneath the headlines and work towards having a balance and informed view.
Simon’s ten steps to sobriety
1. Change your mindset about alcohol so your thinking changes from ‘can’t have’ to ‘don’t want’. The way I did this was by reading sober books.
2. The first 30 days are the toughest. Sign up for the free 30-day Alcohol Experiment, write down your experience and start getting really curious about everything that’s happening.
3. Join Facebook sober groups so you’ve got support and accountability.
4. Arm yourself with alcohol-free alternative drinks. There’s hundreds available and it’s great fun exploring it all.
5. Pour away your alcoholic drinks, you don’t want them in the house.
6. Avoid temptation. If you’ve got any boozy nights out arranged for the first 30 days, I’d suggest avoiding them because you might be tempted to drink. When you feel strong enough, carry on as normal.
7. Be passionate. Think about it like ‘I’m a sober rebel, I’m doing something amazing, I’m not feeling deprived.’
8: Don’t worry if you slip up. It can happen, don’t beat yourself up, learn from it and move on.
9. Stay engaged as the weeks and months roll by.
You’ll see loads of positive changes to your body, your mind and your life.
Keep reading books and keep engaged with Facebook groups.
10. Find new things to do with your time.
When you stop drinking you’ll have a lot more time on your hands.
You’ll also feel a lot more motivated and enthusiastic to go and do stuff, and you want to fill the void.
If you were going to the pub every night, you might join a bootcamp or something like that instead.
5. Does your personality change after a drink?
Do you become obnoxious and rude? Do you like yourself the next day? If your drinking is causing you to behave badly, lose friends and is damaging relationships with others then you need to take stock.
Awareness is the key to making a change, rather than become upset if other people comment on your personality or behaviour.
Use this a signpost that you have room to grow and it is time to work on making a change.
6. Do you rely on alcohol to have a good time?
Do you believe it makes you feel relaxed and more sociable?
I used to feel that I wasn’t an interesting, fun person to be around unless I’d had a drink. I was wrong.
The fact is that alcohol is a short term fix and in the long term increases anxiety, depression and stress related symptoms.
Many people find that they stay stuck in a cycle of daily drinking because they falsely believe alcohol helps their stress and anxiety.
Unless they are willing to take a break they will never discover the truth that alcohol is more like the fuel on the fire of our low moods and anxieties.
7. Drinking alone or drinking in the day
Do you often get drunk when you don’t intend to. For example, just going for a quick drink after work that ends up in a drinking session?
When your daily life revolves around alcohol – that is a sign that you need help. Try and keep a log of how much you drink and what times of day you are drinking, reflect on the data you gather with a sense of curiousty and enquiry and ask yourself if alcohol is really adding something positive to your life.
8. Is there a history of alcohol abuse in your family?
Sadly this is a pattern that can repeat across generations. Alcohol abuse can also be hiding unhealed trauma as you may be using alcohol as a form of self medication.
I meet very few people who have become addicted to alcohol (myself included) who have not suffered some kind of childhood trauma or emotional neglect.
These leave a deep emotional void in our lives and we often turn to addictive behaviours as a way of suppressing or avoiding the pain caused from childhood. If we can recognise where the pain comes from we can take positive steps to heal.
9. Forgetfulness when you drink
Do you ever blackout when you drink and not be able to remember what you did the following day? That is a sign that your brain is overloaded and can’t deal with what you’re doing to yourself.
Simon Chapple is the author of The Sober Survival Guide (pictured)
Alcohol impacts both short and long term memory and over time can cause serious problems.
Blackouts can lead to serious problems as we are unable to recall what we did when we were drinking and leave ourselves vulnerable and at risk of dangerous behaviour. Recurring blackouts are a warning sign that something needs to change.
10. Hiding alcohol
Hiding alcohol around the house is a warning sign that your drinking habit is out of control. If there wasn’t a problem we would be open and honest about our drinking.
Hiding alcohol is usually linked to a sense of shame about how bad the problem has become.
It is far better to be open and honest to the people closest to you in order that you can find support and help in order that you can change the way that alcohol features in your life.
11. Are others worried about you?
If loved ones are worried about the amount you drink, that is usually a sign that you are drinking too much.
Do you find that the people closest to you comment on how much you drink?
If so, take their comments seriously and begin to notice how much you are drinking.
It is never too late to make a change and there are so many powerful and positive communities that can help you quit drinking and have fun at the same time.