Cultural norms around consuming alcohol are shifting, and more and more, people are taking a “dry month” where they abstain from drinking. Given how the pandemic has fundamentally changed the rhythms of our days and the ways in which we socialize, this may be a timely opportunity to explore our relationships to alcohol and/or other substances. Taking a break from a substance can give you a lot of information about how you relate to that substance. If you take a month off from alcohol, see if you notice the following:
Do you have any urges? Observe if there are times when you are tempted to pour yourself a drink. Tracking your urges can give you information about how you are engaging with that substance.
What’s it like to handle stress without it? Over the course of the month, stress will inevitably arise. Do you find that you have a hard time engaging with other coping mechanisms? Observing patterns around stress management with or without alcohol can help you understand where consuming alcohol falls on your list of go-to forms of coping.
Do you notice any changes in sleep? When consuming alcohol is part of a routine lifestyle, you may not realize how much it impacts your sleep or energy levels. You can track the hours that you slept and try to notice your overall feeling of energy throughout the day when you’re not drinking.
These observations can be eye-opening for any substance, not just alcohol! See what you can learn about your relationship to substances in general.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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