Category Archives: Moderating

How to drink moderately

Following on from yesterday’s post about the organisation Moderation Management here are a few more to ponder the issue and whether this is the starting point for you in your journey of re-evaluating your relationship with booze and whether you are able to drink moderately: offers an evidence-based treatment (listed on the National Register of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices – NREPP) for people who wish to cut back on drinking through making deliberate behavioral choices and increasing awareness of drinking habits.  Moderate drinking is not recommended for individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol, have physical conditions aggravated by alcohol, or who identify as alcoholics.

Moderate Drinking

The general consensus in the scientific community about what constitutes “moderate drinking” is:

  • No more than 3-4 standard drinks per drinking episode
  • No more than 9 drinks per week for women
  • No more than 12-14 drinks per week for men
  • Limiting how fast you drink (generally no more than one drink per hour), keeping your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below .055 (.08 is the DWI limit in most states)

The idea behind drinking mindfully and in moderation is to enjoy alcohol responsibly without getting “drunk.” People have vastly differing relationships with alcohol.  Some people are naturally predisposed to being mindfully tuned in to their alcohol consumption and have little trouble enjoying alcohol mindfully and responsibly.  Other people struggle to maintain mindful self-awareness, allowing alcohol to act as a behavioral disinhibition system that results in engaging in actions counter to their values.

If you struggle with this form of alcohol abuse, it is important to honestly assess your own behavioral patterns and ask yourself what you are willing to change.  If you find that your use of alcohol leads to feelings of guilt, shame, or remorse, choose to be honest with yourself about the problem.  You can make the choice in this moment to rethink your relationship with alcohol and begin to drink more responsibly and mindfully moving forward.  Use the present moment as an opportunity to begin to act differently.

Drinking in moderation means that you can still enjoy a few drinks with friends and family without being worried that you will lose self-control.  It means that you are in control of your behavior… the alcohol is not in the driver’s seat anymore.

“Costs” of Drinking in Moderation

Consider all of the things you will lose by choosing to drink in moderation:

  • Problems in your relationships with others because of your drinking
  • Problems at work or school because of your drinking
  • Financial or legal problems due to your drinking
  • Health problems due to your drinking
  • Blackouts” – not remembering portions of the night before
  • Hangovers” – feeling sick, tired, and sluggish for the majority of the day after drinking
  • Damage to your reputation due to your drinking

Will you miss any of those consequences of heavy/irresponsible drinking?  Doubtful.  When you choose to alter your drinking habits and enjoy alcohol in moderation you are finally free of the fears and pain associated with alcohol abuse.

“Benefits” of Drinking in Moderation

Reflect upon all that you have to gain by choosing to drink in moderation:

  • Feeling alert, rested, and refreshed in the morning
  • Harmony and trust in your relationships with others
  • A clear conscience – knowing you have not behaved in ways that you regret and that are not aligned with your values
  • More money – less spending on excessive alcohol consumption
  • Feeling physically healthy
  • Feeling confident that you remember things that you say and do
  • Being in control of your actions

Moderation Management offers a behavioral change program designed to help people concerned about their drinking habits take responsibility for their drinking behaviors and begin to make healthy lifestyle changes.  This type of moderation program may be particularly helpful for those concerned about alcohol abuse (i.e., not alcohol dependence).

Choosing to commit to a drinking moderation program means that you will begin to become more mindfully aware of your drinking patterns and take full responsibility for your actions. In order for behavioral change to occur, you must commit to doing the work. When the pain and suffering that irresponsible drinking becomes great enough, you will become willing to do what it takes to make an honest self-appraisal and make behavioral changes.

Moderation Management

Moderation Management encourages individuals interested in drinking moderately to:

  • Begin by abstaining from alcoholic beverages for 30 days
  • Examine how drinking has affected your life
  • Write down your life priorities
  • Take a look at how much, how often, and under what circumstances you drink
  • Learn about guidelines for drinking in moderation
  • Set moderate drinking limits (track your drinking through a journal or spreadsheet)
  • Begin to take small steps toward balance and moderation in other areas of life

How do you envision that your life will be different if you begin to drink moderately and mindfully?  How committed are you to making real behavioral changes?  Begin to think of drinking in moderation not as a temporary project, but as an actual lifestyle change.  Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of drinking mindfully, moderately, and responsibly.  How much longer are you willing to endure the negative consequences associated with irresponsible drinking?  Choose to get committed to a lifestyle that promotes mindful awareness, health, and balance.

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If you are interested in assessing your “chances of success,” according to, for drinking moderately, you can take a free online assessment.

If you are interested in getting general feedback about your drinking habits, you can take a free “Drinker’s Check-up.”

eCHECKUP to-go” offers online evidence-based prevention and assessment tools for both alcohol use and marijuana use.

As you can probably tell this is from an American website.  For UK guidelines you can visit the NHS website Change for Life or the alcohol industry funded

Another post tomorrow will rap up this short review and reflection on moderation as an approach and consideration.

The next AA?

The next AA? Welcome to Moderation Management, where abstinence from alcohol isn’t the answer

So this was a headline that was kindly bought to my attention in March by a kind person on Mumsnet.  It’s an American piece featured in The Guardian.

Upstairs from one of my favorite Oakland dive bars, 10 people of varying ages and backgrounds are sitting in a circle, talking about their drinking problem.

“I make plans for my non-drinking days so that I’m not thinking about it so much – I work out, I schedule late work meetings, so it’s not even a temptation,” a tall, thin older woman says. Later, she explains that there was a time not long ago when the idea of getting through any day without five or six drinks seemed impossible to her.

“Go out later, hold off on that first drink, set up a game for yourself like ‘I can only buy one drink and then I have to get any others I want bought for me’,” adds a young man in stubble and a newsboy cap. “Hold off on your second drink, too,” adds the older man sitting next to him. “I used to order my next drink halfway through my first, so I’d be halfway through my second before the effects of the first one would kick in and then forget about it.”

This is Moderation Management (MM), a program whose rising popularity and success rate is posing the first real challenge in decades to the traditional, black and white approach to addiction.

The program typically starts with 30 days off booze altogether – “doing a 30” in MM parlance – followed by a slow reintroduction of alcohol, and eventually a plan to limit your intake: no more than 14 drinks a week for men, nine a week for women, and no drinking more than three or four days a week for either. There’s increasing talk of applying MM to marijuana use as well, although that’s not officially condoned by the nonprofit of the same name, which administers the program.

“People do come in lately who want help moderating marijuana and because it’s still illegal in California, we shy away from it,” explains Marc Kern, the organization’s director. “That doesn’t mean they can’t come to meetings and listen and stuff like that. But in states that have legalized it, I can see a time where there’s a different MM – Marijuana Moderation.”

While there is a framework to MM, based on Kern’s book Responsible Drinking, it’s also a program that prides itself on flexibility and enabling people to find their own paths forward. Three out of the 10 people at the meeting I attended said they weren’t ready to do a 30 yet, but were planning shorter breaks. One man celebrated the fact that he’d taken one day off from smoking weed and drinking. He does both in moderation daily, and his concern was more about the frequency and the fact that he can never seem to take a day off than the amount of any particular substance consumed.

Another woman nearly started to cry when talking about issues with her son, her marriage, and her stressful job. She said the only thing getting her through was the bottle of wine she drinks every night. She’d had a few occasions recently where she blacked out from drinking, then spent days in bed depressed. The group gave her ideas for ways she could take a few days away from all of it – the stress, the husband and the drinking – and suggested more therapy to deal with the psychological triggers of her drinking and depression.

A young man in the group explained that he had bipolar disorder, that he was feeling great on his new medication, but that there might be a problem when it comes to alcohol. “I’m not someone who drinks when they’re depressed, I drink when I’m up,” he said. “If I’m feeling good, I want to be out being social, and that means drinking.” The group offered some tips and tricks for sticking to the four-drink-a-night maximum, and for finding ways to be social without drinking. When the older man sitting next to him talked about his daily marijuana use and how it keeps him from being too irritable about anything, the bipolar man raised an eyebrow and gently suggested that using marijuana as a mood stabilizer was different, and more problematic, than just smoking pot because you like it and think it’s fun.

There was no therapist in the room, and the moderator, a two-year MM “veteran”, gently steered people away from delving too deeply into issues that might be better addressed in therapy.

Moderation Management has been around since 1994, but it was living more or less in the shadows from 2000 to 2012, mired in controversy over its founder, Audrey Kishline. After starting MM, Kishline left the group, realizing that she could not moderate her drinking after all. She returned to AA, then fell off the wagon, drunk-driving in March 2000 and killing a man and his 12-year-old daughter. She was released from prison in 2003, and in 2014, plagued by guilt and other demons, Kishline killed herself.

In the year since since Kishline’s death, MM has had something of a resurgence, bolstered by the launch of the US National Institute of Health’s Rethinking Drinking program and a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control calling out “excessive drinking” as something both independent of alcohol dependence and a major public health issue that is not being addressed by currently available tools and programs.

MM began to add more in-person meetings and last year, the organization launched a campaign around Dryuary, encouraging people to take the month of January off from drinking. It was so successful, they now plan to do it every year.

“Historically, MM has been looked upon as enabling alcoholics, and then the tragedy with Audrey knocked us in the stomach and we really pulled back after that,” Kern says. “Only now, in the last year and a half to two years, have we started to come out again. The notion of figuring out if you can moderate, rather than going straight to abstinence as step one of dealing with an alcohol problem, is pretty universal. I haven’t talked to every single person in AA, but I’m sure they’ve all tried moderation on their own. But before MM there was no book or guidelines or anything, so people would just go out and try moderation naively on their own, and without any support a lot of them would fail.”

You can read the full article here.  As you can imagine the comments were a riot!!

Here were two that resonated with me:

1. “The challenge surely is that problem drinking isn’t a quantitative thing; it’s more about why you drink rather than when, where and how much you drink; the old saw has it that having a glass with dinner is fine, not being able to have dinner without a glass isn’t. If that’s the case then moderation (as to amount) misses the point, because if the intention is still palliative, or celebratory or any one of the myriad reasons we’re told we (… ah, go-on) should let ourselves go a a little, then it’s the perception we need to moderate.”

2. “What the author may be alluding to is the application of harm reduction to alcohol.

Harm reduction is generally thought to be an effective approach to minimising the biological and social harms associated with illicit drug use.

Alcohol? Well maybe it works.

But we may also wish to consider the possibility that alcohol harm reduction is a concept that has been captured by alcohol  interests.

Thus, both NGOs and researchers are drawn into the advocacy web woven by an industry sector understandably nervous of abstinence talk.”

And another commentor summed up my position nicely:

“The harm reduction model is a good place to start for a person who is in the ‘pre-contemplative stage’. This person is up against it, but not hard enough to see that the choice of whether or not to use has been completely lost, that the body is making the decision and bypassing what the person thinks of as his will or mind or whatever”

In my experience a phase of attempted moderation was part of the journey so any approach that encourages someone to look at their drinking is a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how MM develops in this country …….

What are your thoughts?



Binge drinking significantly disrupts immune system

It was reported in the Daily Mail last month that a single episode of binge drinking significantly weakens and disrupts the body’s immune system, according to research.

Scientists gave four or five shots of vodka to 15 healthy male and female volunteers with an average age of 27.  Blood tests after 20 minutes showed that their immune system initially ramped up.But the levels of infection-fighting white blood cells had plummeted when they tested them again after two hours and five hours, the journal Alcohol reports.  There were also higher levels of a type of protein called cytokines that tell the immune system to become less active.

The researchers, from the University of Maryland and Loyola University, said that as well as increasing the risk of injuries, binge drinking impairs the body’s ability to heal afterwards. While it is well known that binge drinking alters behaviour, study co-author Elizabeth Kovacs said: ‘There is less awareness of alcohol’s harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system.’   Previous studies have found that binge drinking delays wound healing, increases blood loss and makes us more prone to pneumonia and other infections.

immune system

Our immune systems are usually taking a battering in the winter anyway so why not give yours a rest and either remain or go alcohol free for some time?  I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my health and have had very few colds and viruses since I stopped that are all signs to me that my immune system is recovering 🙂

Edited to add 4th May 2015:

Also according to Everyday Health, drinking too much will weaken your immune system because alcohol can “wear away the linings of your mouth and oesphagus, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to enter your body and for cold or flu to take over.”


More tip top alcohol free drink suggestions :)

Gotta love Dry January for all the tip top non booze alcohol free drink suggestions that suddenly proliferate the press 😀

This one was in The Indy

Dry January: How to cut down your alcohol intake:

You might not believe it, but there are some delicious non-alcoholic drinks on the market <shock horror!!> 😉

Non-alcoholic drinks

The first tip is one I picked up off a friend on a holiday to Spain a couple of years ago. The poor chap had taken up a bet with some other chums and was off booze for a whole year. A whole year! I don’t think that I’ve knowingly given anything up for an entire year before, but a bet is a bet and honour is honour and he was doing his very best to uphold his end of the bargain.

Fair play to the lad, he did indeed keep going (his secret: try a new soft drink each month and stick to it- it keeps the boredom away apparently) and on our holiday to sunny Spain he got me hooked on non-alcoholic beers. Now, before you cry foul, in the most literal way possible, the days of awful 1990’s Kaliber-style beer have all but been buried. Here in the UK we are still sadly lacking behind our European neighbours, where the supermarket shelves are positively dripping with the stuff  (I guess if you’ve got to drive to the beach, what else can you drink?) but there are a couple of crackers over here.

The best I’ve had as a range is the Bavaria brand, who do a nice, malty larger and a wonderfully fruity Wit beer, both of which can be found in most UK supermarkets. But by far the best is one (sold in its native country as an isotonic sports drink, even sponsoring sporting events) is Erdinger Alcohol Free Wheat Beer. This stuff is astonishingly good, to the point of it almost being an all day, all rounder. But I wouldn’t crack a bottle open at breakfast; that might be taking it too far.

When you are at home, get some of these in the fridge and if you want to grab a beer, go for one of the Bavaria options, or the brilliant Erdinger. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Sadly, our pubs need to catch up with our supermarkets on these offerings, which is a great shame.


Bitters are a blend of aromatic herbs, spices, roots, and barks macerated in high-strength spirit to draw out the flavours. In the cocktail world, they are the accessories to the main drink, adding sparkle to a cocktail in the same way earrings and necklace can enhance a great dress. Such is their power, that a single drop can transform a whole drink. They come in a wonderfully diverse range of flavours, from chocolate to chilli, and are worth every penny of their usually punch price for such small bottles.

You may well already have a bottle of bitters at home and not know it. The most famous brand, which is probably sitting at the back of one of your cupboards right now, is Angostura. Used in many cocktails, it is the one that will be your guiding light through January. How so? Well, simply take a glass of tonic water, a wedge of lemon or lime and some ice. Into this add one or two drops of Angostura bitters and you have a drink that is negligible in alcohol content, but will compete with any gin and tonic or vodka and soda you may wish to try. Every bar will have a bottle, so it is the perfect drink for sober night on the tiles.

If you’re really brave, get yourself a set of the Fee Brothers bitters. The Rhubarb one dashed into a glass of Appletizer, or the Cherry one in Lemonade is just wonderful.

More alcohol free drink options for the sober arsenal – thanks Joel Harrison!! 🙂

Plus thanks to the Dry January thread on Mumsnet and for the kind person who brought the Swedish Kopparberg Alcohol Free Cider to my attention.  I picked it up in Sainsbury’s (although it was on the shelf with all the alcohol containing cider!).  Two delicious flavours of pear and mixed fruit.  As an ex hard cider lover and drinker (trained as a nurse in the West Country) this stuff is LUSH and not a drop of booze in it.  ‘Proper job’ as the Devonians would say 😉

The restorative IV drip: a hangover cure from ‘the dawn of ages’

So it’s the second of February which means many Dry January abstainers probably went on the biggest bender last night to ‘Retox’ after their month of good behaviour.  Unless they couldn’t wait and had a drink at the bell of midnight last night!  A month off is still a month off and congratulations to all of those who took part and raised money for Cancer Research or Alcohol Concern 🙂

However you might be needing one of these this morning if you ‘retoxed’ successfully!  This article appeared at the end of last year and was discussing a restorative IV drip as a hangover cure from ‘the dawn of ages’ in reference to what med students used to do to self-manage over-indulgence using resources and knowledge at their disposal.  This is not a new idea as I talked about the Hangover bus here

A new trend has seen companies springing up to intravenously inject the stricken with an IV bag packed with vitamins and medications.  Now this isn’t the first time I’ve discussed this as last year we saw the launch of the Hangover Bus in Las Vegas which you can read about here.  But this business opportunity continues to grow it would seem.

The IV Doc, which offers its intravenous fluids in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, is perhaps becoming the best known.  Launched in December 2013, it has treated “thousands” of people in its first year, according to CEO Adam Nadelson, who said the idea is based on “something that residents have been doing since the dawn of ages”.

Nadelson said that trainee physicians would often be on call at a hospital round-the-clock when completing their residency. They might only get a small, say six-hour, window to go and let off steam.  “For those six hours you didn’t sleep you went out and had fun with your friends. The next morning you were back on point 100%. A nurse would stick a small IV, get you hydrated back up and you were good to go.”  Now, however, one needs not commit to seven years medical training to feel that kind of sweet relief.

For between $199 and $250 anyone – that is, anyone who can afford to spend between $199 and $250 curing a hangover – can have the company send round medical personnel with their bulging bags of fluid.

Although the IV Doc website is keen to stress that they offer their drips for other things too – like general dehydration and food poisoning – Nadelson says most people call them for hangover treatment. The majority of customers, he says, are “affluent”.

“They’re hard-working individuals,” Nadelson explained. “They don’t have even a moment to step away from their busy schedules, have a few glasses of water and allow themselves to recuperate.  They’re literally flying from California to Texas to New York and in-between them flying back to California they’re stopping off with us because they just feel horrible.  They’re picking up clients at night, they’re trying to sell to them the next morning,” Nadelson continued.

“They’re busy. Busy, busy, busy. It’s time-sensitive to get to these meetings. And the service we provide, hopefully we can get to them within two hours’ notice.”

Unable to quite recreate this high-flying, fast-paced dynamic, this reporter instead drank a large quantity of alcohol over a short space of time, then summoned the IV Doc the next morning.

For $250, I received two bags of fluid – the ‘Revive’ package, which is billed as “for deathbed relief”. The solution contains:

  • 130 mEq of sodium ion
  • 109 mEq of chloride ion
  • 28 mEq of lactate (pH balancer)
  • 4 mEq of potassium ion
  • 3 mEq of calium ion
  • Famotidine, a histamine H2-receptor antagonist that inhibits stomach acid production.
  • Odansetron, a serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist used to prevent nausea
  • Ketorolac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug

“Alcohol inhibits the body’s anti-diuretic hormones, which help you absorb water from fluids. When those ADH levels drop, instead of taking water in, the body wants to push it out via a bodily function you should be familiar with,” Nadelson said.  “But after drinking a beer, not only does that full fluid volume pass right through the body, existing H20 gets drawn out along with it. One drink = twice the urine. That’s why an IV drip rehydrates on a level way beyond downing a before-bed desperation glass of water.”

I don’t know about you but that’s one expensive hangover cure!!  Not too dissimilar from the one’s we used to self-medicate with on the wards where I worked as a nurse.  Paracetamol for headache, ibruprofen for anti-inflammatory (but not an empty stomach as causes gastric grazing so with a glass of milk), anti-emetic tablet for nausea and gallons of water, orange juice and tea serving as the re-hydrator with buttered toast as the soaker up of booze with carbs.  Much less expensive but probably not as quick! 😉

Joking aside – this cure may fix the symptoms of the beating your liver took but there will be underlying damage of a cumulative nature if you keep relying on this solution to manage drinking to excess for you.  The ‘deathbed relief’ solution suggests you should maybe looking at your drinking instead ………

Would you pay for this?

‘Women on the wagon’ club together to cut back on drinking

So it’s almost the end of Dry January and you’ve made it through!  Firstly congratulations 🙂 And if you wonder if it’s worth it – wrap your lug holes around this! 45 seconds of a Professor of Hepatology telling you all the good things you just did for your liver in that month off!!

Now are you going to start drinking again tomorrow or are you rethinking your relationship with booze entirely?  If you are rethinking things then a common cry is what will happen to my social life?

Never fear the answers are appearing as if you’d wished for them and someone had heard you 😉 Groups and websites are springing up to help the 43% of women who feel alcohol is affecting their lives – and membership is booming!!

At the beginning of January I read this article that looked at ‘women on the wagon’ clubbing together to cut back on drinking here.  Not keen on the title but the article was well worth a read and hoorah for my friend Rachel too 😀

Feeling that wine o’clock is starting to dominate the day? Want to cut down but perhaps unwilling to give up entirely? Join the club – no, really. A new wave of clubs and websites is springing up to support the growing numbers of women who are worried about their alcohol intake and want help to cut back.

Forget the wine-soaked book club meetings: joining the rise and rise of WoWs (Women on the Wagon) is a distinct trend for 2015.

A recent study by the government-funded Drinkaware campaign found that one in five adults want to cut back on their drinking. Research by parenting website Netmums found that 43% of women wanted to drink less, a figure that rose to 83% among women who were already drinking over the recommended guidelines. The most common reason for drinking quoted by women was “to wind down from a stressful day”.

One in six British women are developing health problems caused by alcohol and nearly a quarter (24%) admitted to an NHS survey in 2012 that they had drunk more than twice the lower-risk guidelines in the previous week. The 21st century might not have seen women achieve equal pay or representation in government, but it has seen a closing of the gender gap on drinking alcohol. Women born after the second world war are twice as likely to binge-drink and develop alcohol disorders than their older counterparts.

But now there are tentative signs that could be changing, as health messages get through and women increasingly find their own ways to put the glass down. Blogs and online communities have been springing up. Lucy Rocca, founder of Soberistas, launched her website two years ago and has written four books on the subject of women and alcohol. She has seen an explosion in the numbers of women keen to join the site and share their stories.

Former politician and businesswoman Laura Willoughby has just opened Club Soda ( to offer support to anyone, male or female, who wants to give up or cut back on their alcohol intake and is organising countrywide events to encourage people to socialise without alcohol. They plan future campaigns to persuade pubs to offer more soft drinks and to keep coffee and tea available for sale in the evenings.

“Lots of people do still want to go to pubs, even if they don’t want to drink,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how little was out there when I decided to give up three years ago. My dad had died from drinking and I could see a bit of a pattern emerging with my own drinking that I didn’t like.”

Club Soda has conducted an online survey about people’s attitudes to reducing their drinking and found the top three reasons to reduce drinking were to improve health (52% of all respondents), cut calories (42%), and save money (21%). Women were a little more likely than men to list cutting calories and saving money as reasons for reducing drinking. They also found 84% of men want to cut down, and only 5% to quit completely, while among women 43% want to cut down, 32% stop for a short time and 25% quit.

The figures have been showing for some years that younger people are rejecting the alcohol-binge behaviour of their parents, while the drinking habits of older women, especially those in managerial or professional jobs, are a cause for concern. Those working in male-dominated environments have an increased risk of alcohol disorders.

From the gin-swilling monsters of William Hogarth’s paintings to the ladettes of the 90s, women and drink have often attracted a sniffy attitude down the years and a lot of drinking habits stayed hidden in the home.

But concern over women’s drinking is not sexism, says Alcohol Concern. “It’s not a male conspiracy. Women’s bodies have less water and more fat. Alcohol is more concentrated in the female bloodstream and the liver has to work harder to break it down.”

Up to 15% of breast cancer cases are related to alcohol consumption, and deaths from liver disease have risen 20% in a decade. The number of alcohol-related admissions of women to NHS hospitals in England has continually risen over the past decade, from 200,000 in 2002 to 437,000 in 2010.

A spate of confessional books on the subject in recent years, written by professional women about what is often described in terms of a “love affair” with drink, has helped break down taboos, allowing women to talk more openly about alcohol use.

Rachel Black, author of Sober is the New Black, writes a popular blog about her own journey to sobriety. She says it is harder for women to admit to having a problem and that they have been left behind by men in being offered the tools they need to tackle their drinking.

According to a recent survey, 43% of women want to cut down on drinking and 25% to stop entirely.

“Alcohol has such a grip on us because it is an integral part of society, socially acceptable when in fact it is an addictive drug disguised as a sophisticated experience,” she says. “Those susceptible to addiction do not realise it until they are already too far into its clutches. As drinking in general becomes more widespread, there will be a proportional increase in the number showing addiction or dependence.

“The effect on women throughout their 20s, 30s and 40s probably is different and I would guess it becomes increasingly important with age. Not until turning 40 do you really acknowledge your own mortality and want to prolong your life and its quality.

“If you’re a mother there is an additional selfless need to do the best for children, which isn’t possible if your prime concern is alcohol. Again, if you drink but it’s not a problem, you will quite happily minimise it to prioritise your children. If, however, it is a problem, managing these two areas of life becomes difficult and conflicting.”

Last year, another book called Her Best Kept Secret became a bestseller in the US. In it, journalist Gabrielle Glaser caused controversy by suggesting that women in particular find a new approach to tackle problem drinking.

“We need to take advantage of 21st-century science. We’ve learnt a lot about how the brain works since the founding of AA in 1935 and we need to acknowledge what nearly every research study has found in recent years. One size could not possibly fit all,” she wrote. “Women who have achieved success with AA or other 12-step approaches should consider themselves lucky and keep attending meetings. But for those for whom it doesn’t work, it’s worth searching for other answers.”

“Women,” she concluded, “are drinking more because they can.”

It’s true, says Willoughby, who believes the traditional route to sobriety – Alcoholics Anonymous – is not always attractive for women. “We’re certainly not against AA, but AA wasn’t for me. I don’t, like a lot of women, identify with the word alcoholic but I knew I was drinking too much.

“A lot of women I’ve spoken to in doing research before setting up Club Soda were saying the same kind of thing. We give people a whole suite of options to pick and mix, because if you’re changing something about your behaviour then everyone has a different way that they can do that best.

“We did a snapshot of @DryJanuary followers and one in 10 mention what they drink in their [Twitter] profile – for example “wine lover” – or have a photo of themselves with a drink. We did not do a gender split, but having looked at over 5,000 Twitter profiles in the last few weeks I can tell you that they are mostly women,” says Willoughby.

“So one of our quick five-minute kickstarts [to help club members] for the new year will be: change your Twitter and other public profiles.”


■ Plan something else to do at your drinking “trigger time”. If you usually open a bottle of wine around 7pm, arrange to be doing something else.

■ Have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. It gives you something to sip and slows down your intake. Look for low-alcohol wine and beer when shopping and make sure there’s soda water or lemonade around for spritzers.

■ Take a break – test your dependence on alcohol by making sure you have two or three days off each week. It helps your body lower its tolerance and makes it easier to cut back.

■ Make known your aim to drink less – the more people you tell, the more support you should receive.

So even if you’re not planning on stopping completely there are some great tips for cutting down and one way to do so would be to have one or two social events a month that weren’t booze centric and Club Soda could help you with that 🙂

I hosted the first Club Soda Social in Cambridge last Sunday and met Laura, the founder.  It was a brilliant evening of great food and alcohol free drinks with lovely company – 7 of us in total.  I’m going to be hosting them once a month so if you’d like to join me then please do and if you’d like to hear Laura explaining a bit more about it then you can do so on yesterday’s edition of the Women’s Hour on Radio 4 which you can access here 🙂

Do you worry about having a hangover in the week or not?

I was recently approached by Adam at Voucher Codes Pro and was happy to share the results of a poll they conducted.

Voucher Codes Pro decided to conduct a poll asking 1,673 working UK adults, aged 18-40 years old, from all over the country whether they worried about suffering a hangover during the week or not?

The participants were of an even gender split of males and females, with the results revealing some surprising information.

When questioned how many times a week during Monday to Friday does each individual enjoy an alcoholic drink, more than half (57%) said they drank twice a week.

However, interestingly nearly a third (32%) would go out on a weekday, with others (68%) opting to drink at home. Of these participants, the majority (65%) would regularly go into work the following day with a hangover, while shockingly nearly a quarter of these (23%) were also sick during office hours.

When asked for their reasons for drinking on a weekday, even with work looming the following morning, the most popular answers were as follows:

  1. To let off steam after work – (32%)
  2. To help break up the week – (28%)
  3. Boredom – (21%)
  4. To celebrate an occasion – (15%)
  5. Lack of responsibility – (4%)


Taking a closer look into the results, the polls also revealed that just under half (46%) of those that had suffered a hangover the following morning, resulted in them calling in sick and taking the day off.

Interestingly, results suggested it was mainly (74%) males that found going to work with a hangover was too much to deal with. Could this kind of self-inflicted behaviour be contributing to the UK’s wide scale problems concerning the increasing number of sick days taken by staff? 

stages of a hangover

You can read the full article here

I particularly like the hangover model which mirrors the Kubler Ross grief cycle which I have talked about in a previous post.  It also accurately represents how my hangovers used to feel too which reminds me of why I stopped! 😉  If this is how you are feeling today as you overdid it last night why not give yourself a break?

Drinking like a ‘normie’

This post feels like it continues from yesterday’s post about non-alcoholic beers quite nicely 🙂

At coming up to a year sober, alcohol free wine and beer has become something that I drink regularly, either at home, or when out and about.  I appreciate that not all agree with this but for me it works without challenging my desire to drink something stronger.

What I have noticed is that with the alcohol removed from the booze I drink like a ‘normie‘.  I can have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and that’s it, happy and don’t need anymore.  For me, it satisfies the taste for alcohol but with none of the consequences.

Which got me thinking as to whether it could be used as a way to moderate or cut down if you are still drinking alcohol, but want to reduce the amount you drink.  If you could alternate a non-alcoholic for an alcoholic drink or even a night of drinking alcohol with a night of drinking an alcohol free substitute would that help?

Compared to Nalmefene, the once a day pill being considered to tackle alcoholism where you take it and continue to drink alcohol, this seems like a comparable and perhaps more favourable way of reducing the amount you drink, as well as reducing the related health consequences.

There will be some that say just don’t drink alcohol full stop but if you enjoyed the taste and would still like to, and it doesn’t encourage you to drink stronger alcoholic drinks, then what’s the harm?

Just a thought

13 days to go



Moderation – the drinker’s Holy Grail?

There was a great post and discussion over at Belle’s blog recently about moderation.  This has, once again, been swirling around in my mind for consideration and it must be because I’m coming up to 9 months and any major milestone seems to stir up ‘drinking again’ questions.  What is it about moderation that feels like my siren song?  I laid in bed this morning thinking about it and trying to unpick what is going on.

See this is the thing.  For me it is the idea of having a drink that I miss.  In the same way that I used to miss the idea of having a cigarette and what that meant to me – a pause as Prim put it recently.  Drinking was a pause on life, checking out of responsibilities,  “ME time”.  The thing I learnt from giving up smoking though, from the numerous quit attempts, was that if I caved in and smoked it tasted disgusting and I immediately wished I hadn’t.  So I carry this thought forward to drinking.

And not only that but to moderate that would mean staying within the UK govt recommended guidelines of 14 units a week, so 3 units a day with a few days off a week.  The idea sounds great but I’m not being truthful with myself.  3 units would be 1 large glass of wine.  In my old drinking life this was me just limbering up, the prelude, an appetiser, foreplay – call it what you will.  So to have to stop at that point would feel disappointing, a let down, frustrating, like I’d missed out somehow.  I’d only whetted my appetite not satiated the desire.  And this is how it would always be.  If I can’t drink within the normal limits and be happy with that then I have a problem.

Justanewme nailed it in the comments on Belle’s blog post when they said ‘Not drinking gets easier –”moderation” can only get harder’.  That’s it in a nutshell and I need to get it tattooed somewhere! 😉

How bout you?  What keeps you wondering about moderating?

98 days to go

PS Sorry talk of the Holy Grail and I come over all Monty Python!


Not Hangover Free?

This nifty chart explains what makes a hangover feel like it does and gives some good tips on how to manage it.

Not Quite Hangover Free?
PS I’m not sure where you’d be able to source activated charcoal and I’m not sure I would want to take this as in A&E medicine it is used to make you sick! :s

PPS Asthenia discussed under (7) means weakness and from Wiki:  weakness is a symptom represented, medically, by a number of different conditions, including: lack of muscle strength, malaise, dizziness, or fatigue.[1] I didn’t know what it meant and had to look it up! 😉