Alcohol

 

About alcohol

We drink to celebrate, commiserate, socialise, and just to relax. 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 more about the different types of alcohol problems and what you can do about them.

If you think you might have a problem

The Australian guidelines recommend having no more than two standard drinks per day, to reduce the risk of alcohol related problems in the long-term; and no more than four standard drinks at any one time, to reduce the short-term risk of injury.

Recognise: How much is in a standard drink

You might be surprised by the size of a standard drink - you could be drinking more standard drinks per day than you realise.

To see how much a standard drink contains, try the ‘How much is in your glass’ tool on The Right Mix website. Choose your usual drink type and ‘fill’ the glass to the level you usually fill it to.

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 for, the more likely it is your drinking will cause problems. For example, it might start making it 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.

Take action: Find out if your Drinking is 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

 

What you can do

Self-help

If you think your drinking is causing you some problems, here are some tips for making decisions about what to do, and ways to start managing your alcohol use. For some people, these strategies might be all that is needed. For others, they can be a useful addition to getting professional help.

Get motivated

It can be helpful to think about what you’re getting out of your drinking, as well as what you’re missing out on. As with most things, there will be pluses and minuses to your drinking. For example, a plus might be that you get to have a laugh with your mates, and a minus might be that you don’t have enough money for your partner’s birthday present. Writing these pros and cons down on paper is a really good way to help you see the big picture and make a decision about whether you want to change your drinking habits. Knowing where you stand will help motivate you to make changes that last.

Make a plan

If you’ve decided to change, 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 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.

Take action: Build an action plan to manage your drinking

Making a plan helps you to consider your goals, and the things that will help you to make changes. Use the action plan tool and follow the prompts to identify and record the motivations, goals, strategies and supports that will help you to manage your alcohol consumption. Once you have a plan you can start to put your goals into action.

Making an action plan before you start making changes to give yourself the best chance of sticking to your goals.

Keep track

It’s really important to keep an eye on how much and how often you’re drinking. This will help you learn more about when, where, and why you drink. Keeping a diary is a good way of keeping track of your drinking, including the financial cost and other problems it causes, and is a good reminder that you need to stick to your limits. It’s also a good way of checking your progress towards your goals.

Recognise: Monitor your drinking

The ON TRACK with The Right Mix app can help you manage your alcohol consumption by tracking how much you are drinking and spending in real time.

You can use it as an electronic drink diary. Each time you have a drink record it in the app. You’ll end up with a record of your drinking over the past weeks and months and you can compare this with your personal goals. The app also has tips on how to cut down on alcohol.

Use this app whenever you decide to drink, to monitor your alcohol consumption and help you to maintain a healthy balance with diet and exercise.

Reward yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself for making changes! Maybe with all the money you’ve saved by cutting back you can treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting to buy (like clothes or music), or do (like go out to dinner). It’s also good to think about other positive activities you could be doing instead of drinking. You might catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, do some exercise, or try something new, like learning a new language.

Take Action: Find enjoyable and rewarding activities to do instead of 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.

Build coping skills

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. The following tools can help you with strategies in these areas.

Take Action: 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.

When you’re starting out, use the tool to solve a problem that is not too difficult. Once you’ve learned the skills you can start to apply the problem solving approach to all sorts of situations as they arise in your day to day life.

Take action: Build connections with people who can help you reduce your drinking

If you are planning to manage alcohol consumption it pays to consider who can support you through this process. Your friends and family can help you to feel better and cope with stress.

Use the Social Connections tool to identify the people in your life who can offer you support and the different kinds of support they can offer.

Focus on strengthening relationships with those closest to you and think about people who you can spend time with without drinking. For example you might have a friend who will catch up with you to go fishing, instead of going to the pub.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

Take action: Get better at managing your emotions to help you stick to your drinking goals

When you are overwhelmed by strong emotions, it’s difficult to think clearly and stick to your goals for managing your drinking.

Use the Managing Emotions tool to identify your emotions, regain your composure, think about your situation and decide on a helpful course of action.

When you’re starting out, practice using the tool when you are feeling calm. Once you’ve learned the strategies you can use them whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or feeling like you need to have a drink.

This tool is also available on the High Res app to use on the go.

 

Getting help

Self-help isn’t for everyone. If you’ve tried the strategies above 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, effective support and treatment is available.

  • A GP is a good place to start when trying to overcome alcohol problems, as they can manage your general health and make referrals for specialists if necessary.
  • This website has information on a range of professional care that is available to current and former serving members.
  • 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.