How to drink less alcohol – 5 ways to tackle it head on
In 2000 got an insight into one of the most powerful coaching processes for various things in our lives including “How to drink less alcohol ?” After all why wait for the so called “Dry January” where people post on social media what hell they are going through day in and day out then go back to having a skinful in February.
I never quite understand the pressure of those themed months when you can do it as part of your overall lifestyle change and save money while you are doing it.
This process is based on a guy called Gregory Batesons logical levels’ framework and was taught to me by one the best teachers on human behavior, a guy by the name of Robert Dilts an expert in Neuro Lingustic Programming.
- It basically takes any issue and breaks it down into where we can make the change and what that change would be.
- What I learned was that all aspects of change are not equal in measure.
- The way we see ourselves in terms of the logical levels’ is one of the major factors in change.
- How to drink less alcohol also lies in this great coaching template especially around, beliefs, identity, our skills, our behaviors and maybe most importantly our environment.
- They all play a role. So let’s start at the beginning, its a very good place to start
Firstly do an audit
This is the key to any programme of change and its to know where we are starting from. Imagine if you were a pilot and you were trying to get from London to Paris but you did not know that are actually flying from London?
In fact, you had no idea where you were but knew your outcome was to get everyone safely to Paris. I am not sure I would feel that confident even with an on board computer!
So imagine this coaching session!
So you want to know how to drink less alcohol?
Answer : I just want a few glasses of wine at the weekend and I am happy making non-alcoholic drinks my choice of preference.
OK I would say to you “great”. So how much do you drink now?
Answer : I don’t know !
Now you may not know or you just may not want to say but regardless its really important. Nothing is going to work if you don’t know how much you drink now or you are prepared to be open and honest about it at least with yourself.
Key Learning : Awareness of the first part of any change process without it is’s pretty pointless starting.
Where are you now and where do you want to get to is a powerful coaching question.
- Let say as a rough guide that one standard glass of alcohol is 1 unit.
- So according to the national health service and my doctor here in the UK the advice is as follows. :
- “men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. Spread drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week. if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week.”
Its a good one for starters as a goal.
Think about, if you get through a bottle of wine a night you would hit their recommended allowance pretty quickly. Now we are all different, in terms of the effect of alcohol which can be influenced by body type gender, food eaten. However, there is one thing that does not change.
I know this after being given 48 hours to live.
You can only process 1 unit of alcohol per hour. It does not matter what you do. I was just an average wine drinker but it really affected my liver to the near point of death.
Write out honestly : What do you drink now? How many units per week?
Write now honestly : What do you want ? What will you see, hear, feel and hear when you are drinking the amount of reduced alcohol intake that you want?
This is such a powerful process.
Then write :
What will happen if you don’t change and are you OK with that? If the answer is YES stop reading and No keep reading.
With logical levels’ think about the question “how to drink less alcohol?” with the following frame surrounding it.
This is often used in alcohol rehabilitation. So in order to change you have to admit who you are is the problem. So “I am a heavy drinker”, “I am an alcoholic”. Note the term “I am”. It means it is at the core of who we think we are.
The problem with this is that by saying this over and over again it does become who we are. If you have ever challenged someone about their national identity you will know what I mean. It does not go down very well.
Learning : Its harder to change someone’s identity than their behaviour / habit
So by saying “I am a big drinker” you are actually say that is “all you are”. I know people this problem when they are made redundant. They then really struggle because their job title is what they saw themselves as in the world.
I know when I first lost my title as a “managing director” after taking redundancy I struggled for a bit until I realized you can actually run a company of one and still be called whatever you like. However, it threatened who I thought I was.
Stop viewing who you are at a drinking level.
As we will come on to discuss you are much more than that, a friend, a colleague, a visionary, a writer, a mother or father. There are so many other things that wrapped up in your identity.
The last thing you need is to embed you drinking habit at an identity level, in other words who you actually are! It’s not healthy!
I should say at this point that alcohol programmes that use this concept of identity work for many, I just think it’s harder to change!
These are the so called beliefs that we hold about our drinking patterns, you see beliefs are really just thoughts about ourselves – they are just thought and they may feel real.
Limiting the thoughts we have in our head to keep us moving towards what we think is true. In reality limiting beliefs are like FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real.
They are generally not just true however we make them up or they are focused onto us by others.
So let me ask you a question : If you had to teach me how to believe that drink was way over more important than our health and wealth being how would you do that? How would you get me to believe it even though it was not true?”
This suddenly places you as having a strategy and a belief system that you have formed. You become an expert on your beliefs about drinking and how to unpack them.
Belief : “I have to drink wine every night to reduce stress because if I don’t I will lose the plot!”
Question: How would you know even before you had the evidence to support it that the limiting beliefs about the link between stress reduction and alcohol was just not true?”
It’s a bit of a mind game but we give ourselves reason for things. So with alcohol consumption what we think about alcohol habit becomes part of the prover part of the brain.
The brain has a thinker and prover part and we often fall into that trap! We seek out evidence to prove our thoughts were true. Its probably why fake news is so popular.
Capability is another name for skill! Once you frame drinking as a skill, you suddenly become empowered.
So if you have learned a habit or skills for how can you drink less you can then put into place. After all learning to drink to excess is a skill with negative consequence but often admired by some!
“I can drink you under the table!”
The strategy will involve all three main senses. Next time you see some with the skill of drinking less. Ask them this question?
If you had to teach me how to drink less, how would you do it? Let them talk you through their strategy.
Sometimes seeing the consequences at the moment of having one more drink can move you either towards or away from a problem. Think a carrot and stick mentality and balancing them both.
What do you get from drinking and what problems will have if you keep drinking?
It’s what’s behind the answer “I have had enough thanks !” People have a strategy for it.
Once you decide you and drinking lots is a skill, it changes the frame and separates it out from who you are. So your Identity!
You are more than you behaviour!
Your excess drinking is a habit so a behaviour. As they say, madness is doing the same behaviour over and over again and expecting different results. Behaviour and habit changes. Here are some behaviors:
- Ordering alcohol over alcohol free
- Having one for the road
- Always going large when you could go for a regular size.
- Eating before going out ( remember alcohol dehydrates us but we often mistake this for hunger, thus the nuts and crisps)
- Not drinking water or adding soda to a drink
- Going out every night after work
- Buying alcohol for the house as part of the weekly shop
These are all behaviors that may be driven by beliefs and identity ( who we are). Remember once you change a habit enough times it becomes normal so we just do it. The brain is always taking short cuts without thinking which is what it’s designed to do.
When a new habit is in place it can really stick.
Action : Build a new habit by keeping at it for 66 days and see what changes. Make a long list of your behaviors and habits and what is working for you ? It is amazing how much a little change moving forward can have a massive difference to your lifestyle and health!
In terms of how to drink less alcohol this is a biggie and here is the reason why:
Your environment changes how you behave from your work pressure, friends, pubs you go into, your fridge. We can very much be “followers” and social influence is one of the things driving our beliefs and behaviour because we like this to “fit in”.
A great example if this is that when I drank wine no one ever really mentioned it apart from shall we have another! Yet when I ended up in the hospital with 48 hours to live, people decided I had a problem.
The gossips really came out to play and no not the closest people to me thank goodness.
When I gave up drinking completely on the advice of my medical consultant people said “go on one won’t matter!”
People are strange. Now it would be easy to give into social pressure but we have to manage it and if necessary spend time with people who support you!
The power of hypnosis
Mark Tyrell is one of my favorite coaches and hypnosis experts; he was one of the first people I studied with. He was one of the pilots of hypnosis to reduce drinking. His approach is multi media, factual and practical.
I highly recommend his course as one of my official affiliate partnerships. If you want help on how you can drink less alcohol his course is of great value and covers all sort of addictions.
In the battle of the conscious and subconscious mind the latter will always win. Mark knows this and his range of courses will really help. You just need a phone or a table and a good set of headphones. Just follow the instructions:
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Comments and thoughts
I would love to know your thoughts and have you tried to reduce drinking? Logical level are a great way to examine your drinking in each part of your life. Its a useful tool to get us thinking.
Hypnosis is a great technique to how to drink less alcohol but I would love to know what you have used. I always get back to you. Feel free to share your tips and your comments and thoughts as they really do help inspire others.