So why has it been almost 10 years since that first quit attempt? Because we started to play the moderating game believing that this would be the answer. We wanted children and knew that we needed to reduce the amount we drank to stand a chance of conceiving and so we cut down our regular drinking. Two pregnancies and births over 4 years kept the lid on my habit temporarily but it rekindled as soon as the breastfeeding finished. Plus I left the ward that I’d been working on and moved to France for half a year. No daily reminder of the horrors of drinking and living in a country where the wine was cheap, good quality and plentiful and I was back to my old drinking ways. I rationalised away my drinking concerns, was resigned to it and reluctant to try again and also the rebellious teenager within me was insistent that caring for two young children was difficult and I needed that drink to transition between parent and grown-up time. I was back to being pre-contemplative and not interested in change ….
But I was more watchful of my drinking and would look at and intermittently record:
How many days of the week was I drinking?
How much was I drinking a day when I did?
How many times when I drank did I consume more than 6 units on one single occasion?
What time of day did I have my first drink?
Did I enjoy it? Every glass?
How often did I find that once I started drinking I wasn’t able to stop?
How often had I failed to do what was normally expected of me because of my drinking?
How often had I felt guilt or remorse after drinking?
How often had I been unable to remember what happened the night before because of my drinking?
These questions make up part of the Audit questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation and used by the Department of Health here in the UK.
Other questions include:
How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
Have you or somebody else been injured as a result of your drinking?
Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
If you are concerned about your drinking and thinking about change maybe these would be useful for you to use to establish an honest picture of your drinking? You can find the AUDIT tool to complete online here
Tomorrow I’ll share how I tried to moderate my drinking before finally realising I was fighting a losing battle.