How to Decrease Alcohol and Drug Consumption
Mindfulness, Mocktails and Reframing
‘Stay at Home‘ is not what most of us would have chosen. But this is an opportune time for everyone to honestly evaluate their default stress and anxiety coping behaviors.
For those who work from home – and (especially) those who have lost their jobs – the enforced inactivity creates anxiety.
During this unprecedented event – maintaining good health is critical. Mindfulness is an important tool in managing stress – and maintaining a positive attitude.
Anxiety Self Medication with Drugs or Alcohol Not Recommended
U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55% in the week ending March 21, according to market research firm Nielsen.
Excessive drinking or drug use can weaken the immune system at a time when it is urgently needed.
“Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia,” noted a 2015 article, Alcohol and The Immune System. “Alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex and seemingly paradoxical ways.”
Individuals who report drinking to self-medicate anxiety symptoms are more likely to develop alcohol dependence. The same is true for drug consumption.
Over time, self‐medication with drug use for mood and anxiety can develop into a substance use disorder. The combination of mood disorders and anxiety disorders with substance use disorders (SUD) is common. To get effective treatment for both – integrated dual diagnosis treatment will be required.
Too much alcohol can lead to feelings of depression, anger, hopelessness and powerlessness. And in some cases – domestic violence. This is a real concern at a time when many families are cooped up together under stressful circumstances.
Another reason to moderate drinking:
Any children in the household are watching every move. Through watching the adults in their lives – children learn how to handle stress. By example – what are we teaching them?
Stay at Home Healthy Alcohol Consumption
Tool #2 – For non-alcoholics, BE AWARE of how much alcohol is consumed each day. It is really easy to drink more than you realize when at home.
Tool #3 – For non-alcoholics, SET A LIMIT on how much alcohol to drink in a day.
What is Excessive Drinking?
In comparison to moderate alcohol consumption, excessive drinking is:
• Consumption of 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women
• Consumption of 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
• Binge drinking is the consumption within about 2 hours of 4 or more drinks for women; and 5 or more drinks for men.
Re-Frame the ‘Stay at Home’ Situation
Let’s look at reframing the experience of the current COVID-19 ‘stay at home’ order.
Cognitive Reframing is a way of changing the way a situation is experienced. For example, reframing can transform a stressful event into a challenge to be bravely overcome. By reframing, it is possible to relieve negative stress and create a more positive life – without actually making any changes in circumstances.
In the case of COVID-19 ‘stay at home’ – we have an opportunity to become reacquainted with our families and friends.
And, there are many Recovery Support Groups online. Most groups now have online meetings.
A bit of imagination is good!
• Visualize you are on a Mission to Mars (if you have kids – great educational opportunities here!)
• Visualize you are a pioneer settler who is homesteading (and can go into town once a month).
• Visualize you are on a once in a lifetime adventure.
• Visualize you have everything you need for happiness, take a deep breath – and RELAX.
Mindfulness for Anxiety Relief
Mindfulness involves learning to focus on the present moment.
Studies have also shown that alterations in brain and immune function are produced by mindfulness meditation.
With mindfulness practice, new neural networks are created in the brain. Mindfulness meditation is associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.
Mindfulness, Addiction Recovery, Relapse Prevention
Some addiction recovery strategies have tried to eliminate cravings by emphasizing ‘will power’.
Mindfulness guides practitioners to observe and acknowledge cravings – and respond with self-compassion and an ironclad intention to remain sober.
With mindfulness training – addictive cravings and reactions are not destiny.
Using mindfulness – habitual impulses and trigger reactions are noticed and acknowledged. But, impulses and triggers are not followed through with action. Holistic addiction recovery centers have incorporated mindfulness training into rehab and relapse prevention.
Mindfulness Lifestyle for Wellness
Once learned, Mindfulness costs nothing to practice and implement.
According to a practice review published in 2010 by the APA (American Psychological Association), What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness? – the practice of mindfulness has multiple benefits in mood regulation, stress reduction and self awareness.
Mindfulness can be done anywhere, at any time. It requires no setup. Mindfulness can be practiced while sitting, standing, walking, gazing at the ocean – the possibilities are endless.
One of the best and cheapest ways to become healthier and happier in general is through mindfulness practice.
How about Now?
Benefits of Mindfulness
- Reduced Pain – A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience March 16, 2016 concluded that Mindfulness meditation reliably reduces pain. (Mindfulness-Meditation-Based Pain Relief Is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids)
- Reduced Rumination – Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces obsessive thoughts.
- Stress reduction – Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress.
- Boosts to working memory – Improvements to working memory appear to be another benefit of mindfulness.
- Focus – Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
- Less Emotional Reactivity – Research also supports that mindfulness meditation decreases emotional reactivity. This results in being able to ‘catch’ habitual reactions before it becomes an action.
- More Cognitive Flexibility – Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also provide greater cognitive flexibility to avoid habitual behaviors.
→ One study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Mindfulness Training and Neural Integration, Siegel, 2007a).
- Increased Emotional Resilience – Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003). Activation of this region corresponds with faster recovery to baseline after being negatively provoked (Davis and Hayes, What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness).
- Relationship Satisfaction – Several studies find that a person’s ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction by increasing the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one’s emotions to a partner.
Mocktails for Happy and Healthy Drinking
Traditionally, there has been a social stigma for drinking non-alcoholic club soda at business meetings and social gatherings.
The exciting news for those in recovery: There is a growing health-conscious trend towards ‘no alcohol’.
Suddenly, sobriety is cool! There is a growing culture shift away from alcohol as a social ritual. More and more individuals are becoming ‘Sober Curious‘.
Recovery Support Groups
• Each patient is evaluated by New Start Recovery Solutions staff and receives a biopsychosocial assessment; and an individualized treatment plan.
• We use Mindfulness Relapse Prevention and other whole person evidence-based therapies; including CBT, yoga, tai chi and more.
• If you or your loved one is located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, Paradise, Redding, Martinez or other Northern California area – and are dealing with a drug abuse or an alcohol use disorder – welcome to evidence-based whole person addiction treatment at New Start Recovery Solutions.
Your Life Awaits – Make a New Start Now
New Start Recovery Solutions
2449 Pacheco Street
Concord CA 94520