Managing Substance Addiction

Managing Substance Addiction

Around the world, many are celebrating due to the opening of bars and pubs. However, a discussion on substance addiction is needed, as over the course of the year it's reported that more than 8.4m people in June 2020 were drinking at higher-risk levels - a 75% increase from February 2020.

In a bid to provide tips on how best to manage alcohol consumption,'s expert, Doctor Samantha Miller, advises on how to seek help and create conversations with our friends and family members.

How to manage alcohol consumption?

Keep track of intake in a diary
"It may be useful to keep a diary of your alcohol intake over a couple of weeks, to ascertain if you are regularly exceeding the recommended limits. If you find you are regularly drinking too much, it's time to review things and consider reducing your consumption."

Set yourself alcohol-free days
"It might be useful for you to set yourself boundaries with regard to alcohol consumption, for example designated alcohol-free days or alcohol-free weekends. Identify "triggers" that prompt you to drink alcohol and consider alternatives. For example, if you always have a glass of wine with dinner, consider replacing this with a glass of non-alcoholic fruit juice. Removing alcohol from the home and only buying the amount that you intend to drink can help to curb temptation-related drinking."

Learn about the impacts and risks
"A useful strategy to aid in managing alcohol consumption is to better your understanding of the ill effects of excess alcohol consumption. For example, alcohol consumption is associated with a greater risk of high blood pressure, liver disease and cancer. It's then useful to consider the benefits of reducing intake; for example, improving mood, reducing risk-taking behaviours and reducing calorific intake."

Seek professional help
"Seeking professional help is always an option, particularly if you are worried you have alcohol addiction or if your alcohol consumption is affecting other aspects of your life such as work or school. You may need a period of detoxification, or may benefit from medical therapies to aid in reducing alcohol consumption. There are also numerous support groups available."

Start conversations
"Discuss reducing alcohol consumption with friends and family. You might find that those around you also wish to manage their alcohol consumption and can form an informal support group. Telling those around you also avoids being continuously offered alcohol, which may lead to you drinking more than you intended."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13% of respondents revealed having started or increased substances, like alcohol and drugs, to help cope with stress. Therefore, we may know somebody who is struggling with substance abuse. But how do we create these conversations with them?

How to bring it up?

Be sensitive
"It's important to be kind, and act as an ally rather than an enemy. Sensitively tell them that you have noticed that they are using a substance, and try to explore with them why they use that substance and establish how big of a problem it is."

Do your research
"It might be useful for you to do a little research on the substance, its ill effects and useful resources and support groups. This means that when you do talk to your loved one, you will already have an understanding of the substance, and be able to offer practical and legitimate advice on where to go for help."

Be an active listener
"Listen to them compassionately and without judgement, and try not to berate them or introduce feelings of guilt. Try to understand the underlying reasons for substance use, and establish any knock-on effects e.g. financial, health or relationship problems."

Support them
"Offer your full support, it may even be helpful to offer to go with them to seek help, whether that be from their primary care practitioner, or from a specialised support group."