Published Author, magazine and newspaper article writer. Healthy foodie trekker traveller sailor skier and scuba diver and golf lover. Wellness Coach by day (wellnesswoman.com.au) and writer reviewer in my spare time.
Published August 18th 2013
Stop the hangovers now
Faced with the thought of permanent abstinence as the only way out for problem drinkers, many choose the path of attempting to control their drinking instead. The thought of being a dreary participant at upcoming parties and celebrations for the next 20 years is too long a path for some to consider. Regardless of the fact that there are millions of people who have fun without alcohol, for the problem drinker this is not an option. Is there then an alternative?
According to Clinical Psychologists specialising in Alcohol Dependency, the latest research shows that someone who is not an alcoholic but a heavy drinker who is capable of off days and does not drink all day, may have a chance of getting their alcohol use back under control following just 3 months of abstinence.
There are two types of alcohol abusers, those who have many personal or psychological issues or suffer from anxiety or depression and wish to use their drinking to numb them of reality and have no desire to stop. These people do not work and have low self esteem and have perhaps given up on life and feel that alcohol is their only friend or that they are too far along to get better.
Then there are the highly functional individuals many who hold down good jobs, care for their families pay their bills, don't break the law, but who drink far more than the recommended limits of 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women. Their tolerance levels habitually increase to where they can drink more and more and are unlikely to have a debilitating hangover. For some this is 1 bottle of wine per night, for others it can be much more.
These people go home via bars with colleagues or simply find themselves pouring a glass of wine as soon as they walk in the door. They may down another drink while dinner is being prepared followed by perhaps the best part of a bottle or more while they watch TV or attend to paperwork. In the morning they may be groggy but this is the norm and as the day progresses they perk up again and the cycle is repeated.
Australia is well known as a country with a strong drinking culture and for producing marvellous wines which are appreciated worldwide, and drinking is viewed as a normal healthy pastime used to celebrate or commiserate or for any possible occasion. However, if you know your drinking is getting out of control and you want to be in charge without going to a rehabilitation centre there is an answer that does not involve AA. Whilst AA is a stellar institution it is not for everyone.
You can try going it alone and just giving up for 3 months, but this is not easy as many people I have spoken to have commenced with the best intentions and slipped back when they felt really challenged and then returned to excessive drinking after feeling they could not do it.
February Fast, Dry July and Ocsober whilst admirable in their own way, especially for charity, are not enough to clear the body of the chemical dependence of alcohol. It has to be 3 months according to the experts. The good news is there is a new drug Campral with little or no side effects, it does not make you sick and helps with the cravings. Although it is not understood why this drug works it is thought that the pleasure receptors associated with the desire for alcohol are dampened.
The drug Campral is subsidised as it is on the PBS scheme and depending on your drinking habits, your prescription will read accordingly. If you commence drinking for instance during the morning, drink at lunchtime and then at night you will need to take 2 tablets 3 times a day. Usually an hour before you would have the first drink. If you are an evening drinker only you can take 2 tablets in the evening. However, if you also drink at lunchtime during the weekends you will need to take 2 tablets at these times too. The packet contains 180 tablets so for an evening drinker only, this is 3 months supply. This is a guide only and proper medical advice needs to be sought from your GP.
You can compliment your 3 months alcohol free period with a 10 visit Mental Health Plan if you feel that your drinking is because of unresolved issues or anxieties. The scheme allows patients 10 subsidised visits to recommended Psychologists on the scheme and a typical rebate is around 60% of the normal fee.
The benefits of not drinking are of course better health, improved clarity, weight loss, increased libido, improved skin and circulation, as well as quality sleep. Alcohol induced sleep is not REM sleep. REM sleep is necessary to rebuild approximately 700 neurons per night. Rebuilding neurons is essential for cognitive function and memory. A Vitamin B complex is a great add on to your regime to help with stress and brain clarity since alcohol drinkers tend to have very low levels of Vitamin B.
To embark on this program it is essential to talk to your GP or Clinical Psychologist, Campral must be prescribed by your GP who can also arrange for you to join the Mental Health Programme if you feel you would like support with coping mechanisms through the 3 months. Hypnotists have also been very successful in helping people with drinking issues. The combination of all these elements can help guarantee your success. The initial financial outlay will soon be recouped with less drinking.
Some people do not wish to have a 'stain' on their health records; however your personal records can only be released with your permission. Your GP will not judge you but rather be pleased you are taking active steps to help yourself. Prevention of disease later on in life will save you and health resources a great deal of money. Remember, it is only 3 months, it is not for ever. Are you up for this? Can you do it?
Once the 3 months is completed many people have gone on to become social drinkers in the true sense of the word being able to say no after a couple of drinks and some only drinking on weekends if that is what they wanted to achieve.
If you can get a buddy, a partner or relative to come along with you then that is ideal, in order that you can encourage each other and find social outlets or exercise that does not involve drinking establishments. If you start now, you can have a super healthy body before the summer and you can enjoy controlled drinking in time for the party season.
There are lots of resources available to help you on the way and your GP or Psychologist and even your local library or the Internet is packed with information to help you get back in charge and wake up feeling on top of the world.