Parties can be fun, but partying isn’t always fun. Hangovers, regrets and embarrassing photos on Facebook are some of the less severe outcomes of overindulging. If you’ve said “Whoa, I really have to get this under control” more than once, then it’s probably time to make some changes. Here are some tips:
Set Limits: It’s not uncommon to look back after a night out and have a hard time counting how many drinks you’ve put back. It can help to create a goal or a limit for your drinking and then stick to it. There are some documented benefits to drinking alcohol, but only when using moderation. Most experts suggest limiting to one or two drinks a day. Decide what a healthy balance is for you. Set a max number of nights each week you’ll drink and a limit for how many drinks you’ll have. If you like to keep a drink in hand while you are out, try alternating between alcoholic beverages and a drink that is booze-free. If you have trouble sticking to the limits you’ve set, that could indicate a problem. It’s better to get support now before things get worse.
If you are drinking daily and need alcohol to get through the day, then it’s not wise to quit cold turkey on your own. Set up a confidential appointment with a counselor in your community or on your campus and work with them to develop a plan for quitting.
Find Better Ways to Cope: Just because drinking, taking pills or using drugs makes you feel better in the moment doesn’t mean it’s a good way to cope. In fact, you may just be pushing things down that are going to pop back up in a big way. And while there are prescription drugs that are used to treat anxiety or depression, these drugs are designed to be used in conjunction with a treatment program — so if they weren’t prescribed to you or you are using them outside of a doctor’s care, there’s a huge risk that you could end up with an addiction problem that could interfere with your work, school and relationships.
Giving up booze or drugs as a way of coping or numbing ourselves doesn’t mean we have to suck it up and deal with the pain — it’s about finding new, healthier ways to cope. That’s one of the things mental health professionals are trained to do — help us find the best ways to cope with the specific feelings and situations that are causing us pain.
Reach Out: Nutritionists help us figure out the best way to balance our food cravings, physical needs and lifestyle to create a plan that makes sense for us as individuals. Counselors do the same thing when helping you figure out how to manage potential problems with drugs and alcohol, and developing a plan for dealing with stress and coping with emotional struggles. Making an appointment to see a counselor isn’t a one-way ticket to rehab or a total overhaul of your social life, it’s simply a conversation to find ways to help you feel better. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone, even if you don’t think your problem is that serious.