Alcohol Consumption—How Can You Stay in Control?
Some people drink more alcohol when they feel stressed, lonely, or simply bored. Are you drinking more than you used to? If so, how can you make sure that your drinking does not get out of hand or lead to alcohol dependence? Consider some practical information that can help you to stay in control.
What is moderate alcohol consumption?
What the Bible says: “Do not be among those who drink too much wine.”—Proverbs 23:20.
Consider: The Bible does not condemn drinking alcohol in moderation. (Ecclesiastes 9:7) However, it does distinguish between moderate drinking, heavy drinking, and drunkenness. (Luke 21:34; Ephesians 5:18; Titus 2:3) Even when it does not lead to drunkenness, drinking too much alcohol can harm your decision-making ability, your health, or your relationships with others.—Proverbs 23:29, 30.
Many authorities recognize the difference between lower-risk and higher-risk drinking, and they often express it in terms of the number of standard drinks a person consumes per day and the number of days per week a person drinks. a However, people all react differently to alcohol, and there are times when the best choice is not to drink at all. According to the World Health Organization:
“Even one or two drinks can be too much—for example:
When driving or operating machinery.
When pregnant or breast feeding.
When taking certain medications.
If you have certain medical conditions.
If you cannot control your drinking.”
Signs that alcohol use is becoming alcohol abuse
What the Bible says: “Let us examine and scrutinize our ways.”—Lamentations 3:40.
Consider: You can protect yourself from the harmful effects of alcohol if you regularly examine your drinking habits and change them if needed. Look for the following signs that may indicate that you are losing control.
You rely on alcohol to be happy. You feel that you need to drink to relax, socialize, or have fun. You drink to cope with your problems.
You drink more than you used to. You drink more frequently. Your drinks are stronger, and it takes more of them for you to feel the same effect that you used to.
Your drinking has caused you problems at home or at work. For example, you spend more money on alcohol than you can afford.
You make unsafe decisions after drinking, such as choosing to drive, swim, or operate machinery.
Others express concern about your drinking. When they do, you get defensive. You try to conceal your drinking from others, or you lie about how much you are drinking.
You have trouble stopping. You have tried to cut back or stop drinking, but you cannot.
Five tips to help you control your alcohol consumption
1. Make a plan.
What the Bible says: “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success.”—Proverbs 21:5.
Try this: Pick the days of the week when you will drink. Set a moderate limit of how many drinks you will have on those days. And set aside at least two days each week when you will not drink.
“Taking regular breaks from alcohol is the best way to lower your risk of becoming dependent on it,” says a U.K.-based alcohol education charity.
2. Put your plan into action.
What the Bible says: “Complete what you started to do.”—2 Corinthians 8:11.
Try this: Learn what standard drink sizes are so that you can measure and count your drinks accurately. Find healthy nonalcoholic beverages that you enjoy, and keep them accessible.
“Small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of having alcohol-related problems,” says the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
3. Stick to your decisions.
What the Bible says: “Let your ‘Yes’ mean yes and your ‘No,’ no.”—James 5:12.
Try this: Be prepared to say “No” in a polite but convincing way if someone offers you a drink that interferes with your plan.
“The faster you can say no to these offers, the less likely you are to give in,” says the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
4. Focus on the benefits of your decisions.
What the Bible says: “Better is the end of a matter than its beginning.”—Ecclesiastes 7:8.
Try this: Make a list of the reasons why you want to stay in control of your consumption of alcohol. Include things such as improving your sleep, health, finances, and relationships. If you talk about your decisions with others, focus on the benefits rather than the challenges.
5. Turn to God for support.
What the Bible says: “For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.”—Philippians 4:13.
Try this: If you are concerned about your drinking habits, pray to God for help. Ask him for strength and self-control. b And take time to discover the practical wisdom found in his Word, the Bible. With him on your side, you can stay in control of your alcohol consumption.
a For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines high-risk drinking as “the consumption of 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women and 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week for men.” Standard drink sizes vary by country, so consult your health-care provider to confirm what is considered a low-risk drinking limit for you.
b If you cannot control your drinking, you may also need to seek professional help.