You know it's getting bad when you used to only drink with friends in a social situation, but now, you are drinking alone at home.
The first time I ever got drunk was alone, maybe this set me up for problems down the line. It was Christmas time, and I was attacking my parent's drinks cabinet, nobody's fault but my own. I still feel sick when I think of the drink I got drunk on that night, it was brandy.
Before I even got to legal drinking age, I was using alcohol more in social situations than drinking it alone at home. I would go to the local pub with my friend Rob. We were both underage drinkers at the time, so it felt kind of cool to be talking to the bar staff in that notorious pub which had a reputation for serving underage drinkers.
We would say to the landlord and landlady how we thought the customers were getting younger and young by the week. It was a funny situation to us as we very both a couple of years away from the legal drinking age in the UK anyway.
I felt like alcohol was in the beginning a good tool for me to meet girls and socialise with friends. But as the years rolled on, my relationship with alcohol changed, and I was no longer just using it for nights out. I would drink alcohol because my body craved it after drinking large amounts the previous night, or even after I had finished a night out and fancied more. I would go into the convenience store with bloodshot eyes and pick up some beers to take back to my apartment after the bars had shut.
I attribute drinking alcohol on my own to be more of a problem than with friends. Have you ever seen somebody in a bar drinking on their own? Does that make you think they have a problem with alcohol? It kind of does for me, I imagine they are drinking alone in a bar because they need to feel the effects of alcohol rather than using it in a social situation. We have all seen the random drunken guy in a bar approaching people to try and strike up a conversation. Nobody wants to talk to this guy, and people generally give him a wide birth or even go as far as to tell him to go home.
Here are a few steps you can take to avoid drinking alcohol alone at home, or in the bar.
1) Don’t keep alcohol in your home.
If you go to the supermarket with the sole reason of buying alcohol, then you are planning to have incredibly easy access to the one thing you don’t want. If I had a big cake sat in my fridge, id often be thinking about just having a slice, maybe even two! So don’t fall into the trap of having drinks in your fridge if you no longer intend to drink at home.
You don’t need to buy that case of 24 beers, even though they are such great value compared to buying one can. It’s a trick the supermarket is playing on you to get you to buy more, and ultimately drink more.
If you really want to spend less time drinking alone, then just stay out of the alcohol section at the supermarket. If drinking alone is becoming a problem, this is the last place you want to be.
2) Meet for dinner with friends rather than drinks alone
We all have to eat right? I try to organise meeting friends around lunch or dinner these days. I much prefer to do this than sit at home with a can of lager staring at the TV all night drinking myself into oblivion. I never used to end at just one can if I decide to drink at home, it's usually at least 4 to get me to the point where I want to be.
Instead, if I go to a friends house for dinner, or suggest meeting up somewhere, then I will drive and this is the reason that I won't be letting myself drink. It's good to have an excuse to not drink, and it also means that you will be out of the house or off-licence where you might be tempted to buy some alcohol.
3) Startup an old hobby
Did you ever have any hobbies when you were younger? I used to love going fishing, and it's something that I have started doing again since quitting drinking. I used to love it when I was a kid, so I thought why not try and see if I can get back into fishing again.
Fishing is the biggest participator sport in the UK, so obviously it has a massive following. There is nothing I like more than catching a fish myself and cooking it, my favourite is cod, but I've yet to catch one.
I can get focused on fishing, and as I prefer sea fishing, and don’t live near the sea, then it’s a place I have to drive to, so no drinking. It normally takes a couple of hours for me to get to a decent fishing spot, then several hours fishing by the time I'm ready to drive home. By the time I get back, all I am interested in doing is going to bed, hopefully after cooking some fish and chips.
4) Spend time learning a new skill
There are loads of free courses available on Udemy these days. You could spend the time that you’d normally be drinking alone on learning a new skill. If you want to earn some extra money, you could try learning a skill that lets you learn a marketable skill. I have a big list of free courses to get through now, and most of them are about improving my business.
I am learning about languages as well, I have spent many years in Thailand and learnt Thai whilst I was there, and now I’m learning Vietnamese as well. I know these languages are not much use outside of Vietnam or Thailand, (unless you want to impress the waitress in a restaurant) but I do love improving my language skills.
There are plenty of opportunities available for free on Udemy, so take a look to see what you could study to improve your life rather than cracking open another can of beer. Learning will be much easier with a clear head.
5) Listen to an audiobook
I have an Audible account which I've had for several years now, I love to read books, but listening to them is something I do when I'm in bed about to go to sleep. I can put on a sleep timer of say 60 minutes and normally, I'm asleep by the time the timer is up. The great thing about Audible is that you can return the book if you are not enjoying it and get your credit back. It's £7.99 a month for me to have a UK account, but there are free trials available if you just want to test it out.
You could also just try reading a book as well, the benefit of this is it normally helps you to sleep. Of course, alcohol can cause you to sleep, but it's never good quality sleep compared to falling to sleep naturally when reading a book.
6) have a few non-alcoholic drinks in the fridge
You might feel like you are missing having a drink in your hand if you normally have an alcoholic drink at the end of the day. I do get through a lot of drinks now I'm not drinking alcohol, a lot of tea, coffee and soft drinks (all sugar-free though). Just think of all the calories you'd be saving if you switched to non-alcoholic drinks, and sugar-free ones as well.
I would recommend trying to cut down on caffeinated drinks at some point in the day, I don’t usually drink coffee after about 2 pm, I do have tea though which I know still has caffeine in it, I like tea after my evening meal. I do tend to switch to alcohol-free beer at night time though, the brand I drink is called All-Free, it’s a Japanese brand and pretty tasty. It is also zero calories hence the name and does not contain caffeine, so it's not going to keep me awake at night.
7) Improve your cooking skills
Maybe you order a lot of taking out food to go along with your beers or wine? I spend a lot of my time preparing meals and looking for recipes instead of spending time drinking. I think it's another great skill to have if you have spare time. I love cooking for my girlfriend who is also a non-drinker, however, she likes to make ice cream and ice lollies more recently, so I think I might be adding on a few extra pounds if I tell the truth. I hope that the gyms are going to open soon as this lockdown burn off the extra calories.
If you are actually stopping drinking, then you could order a set of digital scales to really get to work on some weight loss techniques. I measure my food fairly often to get an idea of the calorie I am consuming each day, which is especially important right now with gyms being shut.
You can figure out what your daily calorie intake should be by weighing yourself each week, if you are putting on weight, reduce the daily calories that you are consuming or likewise, increase them if you are losing too much weight.One thing that should happen if you decide to stop drinking on your own at home is that you are going to be consuming fewer calories than before and this will then be easier to figure out your calorie intake without having to factor in drinks.
Drinking alone is never a good thing in my opinion. Drinking alcohol is meant to be more of social activity, and although I don’t drink myself, the best times I had when I was using alcohol was with a group of friends. OK, often it could end up in arguments and fallouts, which won't happen if you are drinking on your own, but it can often lead to depression if you drink too much.
Try to see if you can limit your drinking to when you meet up with friends or even try stopping drinking completely as, I have found, it’s the only way for me to completely control the craving that alcohol forces upon my body.
Here is a rundown of the points covered in this blog post