It’s no secret that Australians enjoy a widespread culture of drinking. From Friday night drinks with work colleagues to a glass of wine with a homecooked meal to destress after a long day: alcohol is a widely accepted way to wind down and socialise.
But when does drinking alcohol become a problem?
If you find yourself questioning how much you drink, it might be worth exploring participating in Dry July – an annual campaign that encourages individuals to quit drinking for a month and raise funds for a good cause.
Hear from The Banyans Chief Psychologist, Peter Hayton, below.
What is Dry July?
Dry July is an annual fundraising campaign encouraging individuals to abstain from alcohol for July. The primary goal is to raise funds for organisations that support individuals and families affected by cancer. Participants commit to sobriety and seek sponsorship from friends, family, and colleagues to donate to the cause.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the benefits of reducing alcohol consumption and its impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Throughout the month, Dry July provides support and resources to help participants stay motivated and navigate social situations without alcohol.
Dry July has gained popularity worldwide and become a significant fundraising event, helping to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families by funding supportive care services and initiatives.
But it’s also helping individuals understand their relationship with alcohol and experience the benefits of sobriety.
Why Participate in Dry July?
If you’ve never explored your relationship with alcohol, Dry July offers an opportunity to reflect on your drinking habits and explore what a month of no drinking can do for you.
There are many benefits to taking part, including:
By abstaining from alcohol for a month, your body can reset. This can lead to improved sleep, increased energy levels, enhanced mental clarity, and better overall physical well-being. Reducing your drinking can have long-term health benefits, such as lowering the risk of developing chronic conditions like liver disease, certain cancers, and heart problems.
Personal Challenge and Growth:
Taking part in Dry July presents a personal challenge that can promote self-discipline, self-reflection, and personal growth. It allows you to examine your relationship with alcohol, develop healthier habits, and build resilience. It can also help you discover alternative ways to socialise and have fun without relying on alcohol.
Support a Worthy Cause:
By participating and seeking sponsorship, you contribute to the funds for cancer support services, research, and initiatives.
RELATED POST: The Dangers of Dry July
When Should You Be Concerned About Your Drinking?
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is a medical condition characterised by the inability to control or cease drinking despite adverse consequences. It can originate from social drinking or be triggered by psychological stress or emotional trauma.
“It’s often a slippery slope, where someone might start drinking one glass a night to help destress and then find over time that they need a second, third or fourth glass to achieve the same effect to ‘take the edge off’,” advises Peter Hayton, Chief Psychologist at The Banyans. “Before they know it, they’re caught in a cycle of overdrinking and often aren’t fully aware just how much this impacts their physical and emotional health.”
Signs of overdrinking or alcoholism can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the problem. Here are some common indicators to watch out for:
You may need to consume more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can be a sign your body has become accustomed to higher levels of alcohol, indicating a potential issue with overdrinking.
Frequent cravings and preoccupation
Feeling a strong urge or compulsion to drink, as well as thinking about alcohol frequently, can be signs of alcoholism.
Experiencing physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms when alcohol intake is reduced or stopped, such as tremors, sweating, irritability, anxiety, or insomnia, is a clear sign of alcohol dependence.
Neglecting responsibilities and relationships:
Alcoholism can lead to a decline in performance at work or school, neglect of personal obligations, and strained relationships with family and friends.
Hiding or lying about drinking habits:
If you find yourself trying to conceal or downplay your drinking by hiding alcohol, lying about consumption, or becoming defensive when questioned about your habits, you may be experiencing alcohol addiction.
It’s important to note that everyone’s journey with alcohol is unique, and the presence of one or more of these signs does not necessarily indicate alcoholism.
However, if you or someone you know exhibits these signs and experiences negative consequences due to alcohol consumption, seeking professional help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist is recommended.
“Don’t wait until you’re too far down that slippery slope,” says Peter Hayton. “Seeking help sooner rather than later ensures you can get your drinking habits under control safely and with the right support.”
RELATED POST: Do’s & Don’ts of Drinking During the Holidays
Before You Go Sober: What You Need to Know
Before quitting alcohol, there are several important considerations you should be mindful of to ensure a safe and successful transition.
“The body can develop a physical dependency on alcohol, in which it has adapted to regularly having high concentrations of alcohol in the blood,” Dr Christian Rowan explains. In some instances, going “cold turkey” can be fatal as the body struggles to cope without it. Dr Rowan advises, “It’s essential that people seek medical guidance before drastically reducing their consumption.”
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Quitting alcohol abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, depending on the level of dependence. These symptoms may include tremors, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and seizures. It is essential to be aware of these potential withdrawal symptoms and consult a healthcare professional to guide them safely.
A strong support system is crucial when quitting alcohol. Informing trusted friends and family members or joining support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can provide emotional support, accountability, and guidance throughout the process.
It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before quitting alcohol, especially if you have a history of heavy or prolonged drinking. They can assess your overall health, guide withdrawal management, and recommend any necessary medications or treatments to support your journey.
Quitting alcohol may require making significant lifestyle changes. Identifying triggers and adjusting your social circle, activities, and environments to support your sobriety is essential. Engaging in new hobbies, practicing self-care, and seeking healthy alternatives for stress relief can be beneficial during this transition.
Patience and Self-Compassion
Quitting alcohol is a process that takes time and commitment. It is essential to be patient with yourself and practice self-compassion throughout the journey. Set realistic expectations and celebrate small victories along the way.
By being mindful of these considerations, you can take proactive steps to ensure a safe and successful transition when quitting alcohol and participating in campaigns like Dry July.
Concerned About Your Alcohol Consumption? Get the Right Support Today
At The Banyans, we take your recovery seriously, so we only have the best and most experienced staff in our teams. From pain and addiction specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and nutritionists – we work to understand you better and assist you through your recovery process.
Each of our alcohol addiction programs is individually tailored and designed for your circumstances and experience. The personalised nature of each program can incorporate elements of treatment for multiple conditions.
Ready to start your journey today? Speak to our expert team 24/7 on 1300 226 926, or enquire below.
This article was reviewed by The Banyans Chief Psychologist, Peter Hayton.