health

"I took a five-minute 'drinking audit' to see if I drink too much. I got rated 'risky'."

Alcohol Think Again
Thanks to our brand partner, Alcohol Think Again

As I mentally prepared myself to do Alcohol.Think Again’s five-minute drinking audit, I wondered if my sudden burst of apprehension and nerves was normal.

Like a lot of people, my weekends are filled with birthdays, housewarmings, events and catch-ups – and with that comes drinking. Sometimes a little and sometimes a few glasses more.

While I don’t have a ‘problem’ with alcohol per se, in all honesty, I knew my drinking habits were on occasion… problematic.

And so I braced myself for the results.

In total, the test had 10 questions and while it says you’ll need five minutes, it took me significantly less. Some of the questions and my answers included:

How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?

My consumption differs, depending on the event. Perhaps, one to two if I’m at a dinner, four to six if it’s a party or a ‘night out’. I selected the ‘three or four’ option as an in-between.

How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?

Maybe monthly? My Sunday morning Uber Eats bill was proof of this.

How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?

Admittedly, also monthly.

Has a relative, friend, doctor or other healthcare worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?

No. But I also knew that just because my behaviour was normalised, doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Then I got my final result. I scored a 12 out of 40 which put my drinking level at ‘risky’. This was only one off from ‘high-risk’.

The guilt I had been feeling prior, was validated.

how much alcohol is too much
Oh.

However, after (pardon the pun) serving up the cold, hard and sobering facts, Alcohol.Think Again then shared some simple, realistic and healthier lifestyle changes I could use to reduce my intake.

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These were my biggest takeaways:

Actually knowing how much is in a 'standard drink'.

I realised it's probably a lot more than what goes into your standard at-home 'wine and cheese night' pour. It was for me.

As part of using the 'drink levels and your risk tool' you can select your glass and drink of choice (be it wine, beer or spirits) and simulate your general serving size to see how it matches up to a 'standard drink,' which is 10 grams of alcohol regardless of type.

As it turns out, my regular glass of wine measured over two standard drinks. Oops. Note to self: pop 'buy smaller wineglasses' on shopping list ASAP.

how much alcohol is too much
The numbers don't lie.

The tool will also show you how reducing your intake will affect not only your health, but also your wallet.

how much alcohol is too much
These are my would-be stats if I decreased my intake to three to four standard drinks a week.

Keep in mind that the National Drinking Guidelines state men and women should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the "lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury", with no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion to reduce the "risk of an alcohol-related injury".

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Actively drinking less, and knowing how to do so.

Now that I was aware of my "risky" behaviour around alcohol, I wanted some practical and easy advice on how I could drink less without even noticing myself doing so.

Here were some tips from Alcohol Think Again which I found helpful:

- Making sure I plan specific 'alcohol-free days' during my week to decrease any temptation of drinking. For me this looked liked planning activities like yoga after work, or even just treating myself to a night off reading or watching Netflix as a way to unwind from the day.
- Making my home a drink-free zone and only going to the bottle shop if I need it for a specific occasion. No booze equals no temptation.
- Set a budget on how much I plan to spend on alcohol in any given month or period. I’ll save some money while being healthier. Win-win.
- Making every second drink a non-alcoholic drink if I’m at a bar, restaurant or social situation. Bonus points if it's water.
- Getting a friend involved to help keep me accountable. This will also prevent FOMO (the dreaded fear of missing out).

Choosing social activities that don't revolve around drinking.

Alcohol is ingrained in our social culture. While avoiding it altogether was unrealistic I knew I could make changes to how I socialise with my nearest and dearest to take booze out of the equation.

For example, I could switch 'grabbing a drink' with a girlfriend to going on a hike, and replacing dinner with brunch. No mimosas allowed.

I also reassessed my need to drink while eating out. If the food was delicious enough already, why did I need the glass of wine or a cocktail to enrich the experience? Not buying alcohol also meant my friends and I could try more and fancier restaurants thanks to the money we'd be saving.

how much alcohol is too much
Note to self: You don't need rosé to enjoy a hearty bowl of pho, so skip it!

You can take the five-minute audit through Alcohol.Think Again. While you're there, see your 'drinking risk', how your 'standard pour' measures up and some strategies to reduce your alcohol intake.

Have you done the five-minute drinking audit? Were you surprised with your results? Tell us in a comment below.

Alcohol Think Again

Reducing your drinking will not only reduce your risk of alcohol-caused disease, but you’ll also feel better in the short-term. Just think: deeper sleep, brighter skin, more energy, a fitter body, a clearer mind, and more money in the piggy bank. These are just some of the benefits reducing your alcohol intake can help achieve. For ways to reduce your drinking, head online. alcoholthinkagain.com.au

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