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January 14, 2021

The Benefits of Evaluating Drinking Habits to Start the New Year

Stacey J. Drubner, JD, LICSW, MPH

The concept of taking a break from alcohol in January has gained some traction in recent years but maybe even more so this year. New Year’s Resolutions often focus on improving personal wellbeing, and unhealthy drinking can have an impact on physical health, mental/emotional health, job performance and the quality of relationships.  It is understandable that some people have turned to increased alcohol use during these challenging times. Contributing factors include stress, more time at home, boredom and less options for fun or release.

JAMA Network Open (2020) reported that Americans between the ages of 30-80 indicated an increase in drinking frequency of 14% during the Pandemic, with women showing a 17% increase in drinking from the same time period last year.  Instances of heavy drinking by women increased by 41%.

Whether you are someone who engages in potentially problematic drinking or just want to cut back on alcohol consumption for other reasons, here are some things to consider:

  • Take some time to think about why you are drinking, how often and how much you are drinking: MGH Recovery Research Institute – Guide to Drinking Levels
  • Set reasonable and flexible goals
  • Recognize that change takes time, practice and sometimes multiple attempts
  • Identify alternative coping mechanisms (exercise, mindfulness, time with friends/family)
  • Connect drinking changes to other health goals (weight loss, cardiac health, sleep)
  • Invite friends and family to join you in your efforts – sometimes drinking is related to social circles
  • Consult a physician if you need guidance with safely stopping your alcohol use
  • Seek help if you need assistance with evaluating or addressing your drinking or if you have concerns about a loved one. The EAP can help at 866.724.4327.

Below are resources that you might find helpful as you rethink your drinking:

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