'I'm an alcohol coach. These are the three signs that you may want to rethink the way you drink.'

Worried that you may be drinking too much but not about to sign up for an AA meeting?

Everyone around you drinks the same way – to have fun, let off steam, chill out – but a little voice in the back of your head is starting to whisper that this might be becoming a problem.

Most drinkers fall somewhere along a spectrum from your nan, who has a sherry at Christmas, right through to the person who has to physically detox from alcohol.

It’s when our drinking starts creeping along that spectrum – and not to the nan and her sherry end – that we may start questioning how much we’re drinking and whether it is becoming a problem.

Watch: Your body after one year without alcohol. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So, how do you know when it might be time to rethink your relationship with alcohol?

As an alcohol coach, these are the three signs I advise people to look out for if they are worried about the way they drink.

You can drink more than you used to.

Remember as a teenager when it would only take a couple of sickly-sweet drinks before you’d be slurring your words and the room would start spinning? 


Fast forward a few years – or a few decades – and a couple of drinks hardly touch the sides.

The more we drink, the greater our tolerance to alcohol, so we need more to have the same effect.

I remember a drunken night with a friend where we polished off a bottle of wine each. I felt sick, while she seemed unaffected.

A few years later, I could finish the bottle and open a second without feeling like I was going to throw up. 

Admittedly, the hangover the next morning wasn’t pleasant, but at least I was no longer a lightweight. It wasn’t a good sign.

If you find you’re drinking more than you used to, to get the same effect, you are heading down a slippery slope. After all, alcohol is an addictive substance.

You drink to cope with life’s stresses.

There are many reasons we drink. 

Celebrating something – crack open the champers! Holiday by the beach – cocktails at sunset. Romantic dinner for two – a good bottle of red.

It’s when we start turning to alcohol to numb negative emotions that it can become a dangerous dance.

If you pour a drink whenever you are angry at someone, upset about something, or generally feeling down, you’re using alcohol as a crutch.


"So what?" you may think. "It works."

This is true... until it doesn’t. 

Alcohol is a depressant and will suppress your emotions (positive and negative) but it’s very short term. 

Ever had a drunken argument with a partner or friend that you regretted the next morning? What about drowning your sorrows only to end up watching a sad movie or listening to depressing music as you empty the tissue box? It never ends well.

When the alcohol wears off, you still need to deal with your emotions, on top of a nasty hangover and the growing concern that you may be drinking too much.

Listen to Fill My Cup. On this episode, host Allira Potter is joined by Sam Wilson, Founder of Sober Mates, to share her story. Post continues below.

You're thinking a lot about drinking.

If thoughts of drinking are taking up a lot of your mental space, it can be a big warning sign.

Consider how much time you spend worried about the way you drink, planning when you will drink next, thinking about how you can cut back on how you drink, worrying about what you said or did the night before, being concerned about your health... and it goes on and on and on.

Many of my clients tell me they want to have a take-it-or-leave-it approach to drinking. They don’t want to be consumed by thoughts about when, where, how much, and why.


So what do you do?

If you’ve noticed one or more of these signs, pay attention as these are red flags warning you that your drinking may be dipping into the problematic zone.

Sometimes simply being aware of this is enough to make you decide to rein it in.

Take a break, find some alternative ways to let off steam, try alcohol-free drinks... whatever it takes to allow you to step back and reassess the way you drink.

However, it’s often at this stage that people realise that cutting back isn’t as easy as they thought. And this is where finding support and information is key.

There are plenty of books and podcasts on the subject, and if you need extra support, there are alcohol coaches and programs that will help you take back control of the way you drink.  

And remember, you don’t have to label yourself as a problem drinker to decide to rethink the way you drink.

Rachael Layton is an alcohol reset coach and Lady Startup graduate who decided to take a break from drinking more than two years ago. She counts it as one of the best decisions of her life. You can find out more on her website.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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