To abstain or not to abstain, that is the question?

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I read a book some years back (I will look it up if anyone asks) by a psychiatrist specialising in helping people with Alcohol Use Disorder. His guidance for deciding if you should abstain completely was to ask his patients to set a limit for how much they drink on any single occasion. If they broke this more than two or three times in a year, then he advised they should consider abstention as the only option. Is this setting the bar a little too high, and if you think it is, what would make you consider abstaining completely from alcohol?

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  • Posted

    Am not sure which book, or author, you refer to... and when the book was written, but for me personally, there would've been no point in even trying his suggestion because it would've been impossibe for me to do it.  

    Having said that, I still do now drink a few times a year, and don't have any issues with that, or with remaining abstinent the remainder of the time. 

    So, although I would've met his criteria for total abstinence from alcohol, I am also in the position of showing that there are other ways. 

    As I say, not sure when the book that you refer to was written and I am sure it was written with accurate information at the time, but there are always advances in research that might superseed any given information at that time.

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    • Posted

      I guess my point is best illustrated by the AA Big Book.  Written in the late 1930's and no doubt with the best information available at the time, but it is now woefully out of date in terms of scientific progress with regards to alcohol addiction.

      A book is only as good as the information known at time it was written.

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  • Posted

    I am most definitely a binge drinker.  What is a unit?  2 shots or 1 drink?  I can drink about 5-6 drinks in an evening, getting pretty drunk, forget some things I said unless you remind me, etc.  I do this about 2 times a month.....I am depressed and hungover for 4 days.....lessening each day until the cloud lifts.  In any case, I'm 57 and want to get off this roller coaster.  Alcohol has always been my go to reward, helps me loosen up at parties etc.  I've been doing it a long time.  I have tried to be abstinet and succeed for a few weeks or a month or two, but eventually back and binge again.  I need help and I'm getting it now wherever I can, which is here and with a counselor who i've just seen once so far, and a lot of reading.  Abstinent sounds wonderful to me but I am tempted and crave when around folks who are drinking and I've not been able to stop.  I'm ashamed and feel lost and hopeless.  Doesn't help that today is 2 days after a binge....so I have 2 days to go untl the fog lifts.  

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    • Posted

      To answer your question on what is a unit, I use the Drinkaware site (there is a phone app too) to keep track. It works very well. They define 8 units in one day as a binge. As I started drinking when Hugh Johnson was doing wine programmes on TV and he drank a bottle of wine per day (that would be 9-10 units), I was happily thinking moderate drinking came in around that level! (Incidentally, Johnson never drank the same wine twice. He said life was too short.) So for some of us older drinkers, the new regime (15 units per week) looks like a tasting session at the local wine store!

      But clearly you have your own desire to cut down based on your experience so I hope the fog lifts soon. I rarely get hangovers as far as I can tell,but if I'm on holiday and drinking every day, there is definitely the potential for depression/hangover to set in until, of course, you have another drink! I try not to get sucked into that spiral and have a number of dry days in the week. 

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    • Posted

      i was like you thomas...always looking for that fresh drink OR I would feel down....where are the hidden bottles?? 8 units per day is nothing...ha ha..sorry but not being cynical or horrible but I used to drinkg a lot before I finally realised that it would kill me......many many years and then no more...keep trying to stop...Robin
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    • Posted

      Thanks Robin. Don't worry about the 8 units reference. I realise that alcohol affects us all differently and I've had days well into double figures and couldn't remember who I'd upset the night before. But I'm not planning abstinence at the moment. My strategy is dry days in the week. Then to tackle the keeping out of binge territory when I'm drinking. I won't bore you with a week by week account. This year has been abysmal so far (weekly average 40 and often 2 to 3 weeks without a dry day) but I'm hoping a bit of sharing in this forum may provide support.

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    • Posted

      2 days not drinking druing the week is GREAT and a good start. AND you are staying away from binge drinking temptations is brilliant. On the right track for certain.
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    • Posted

      Being realistic, this is 2 step strategy. The first and essential step is the 3-4 dry days in the working week. That doesn't guarantee success in bringing the total for the week down but not to do it does guarantee failure. I still find that when I drink, a desire for the buzz cuts in at about 5 units but if I go over that it is likely (not always) that I will end up in double figures. But that is step two. If I get the dry days running then the simple maths of only having 3 drinking days left should come to my aid. If I can get into the twenties for weeks at a time (I have before) then I am on the way. After all, the new recommended limit is 15 units per week for a man.

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    • Posted

      Of course that's why I am here as well. My plan is to do TSM, no spirits only wine, and never have another 3 day depressive hangover again; it's ruining my life. Today is day 4 and I am finally feeling 90%. So now I guess it's progressed to 5 days of repercussion.

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    • Posted

      Glad the fog has mainly lifted. I find that once I feel all OK then it also seems ok to have a drink again. The first time may be within limits, but if I go off road as far as my plan is concerned, I usually end up in the ditch! Like today, it is a lovely day for sitting out with a cold something or other but that would be off road. I will have an early dinner instead and watch TV! At least, in the morning, I will have a clear head. And a clear conscience!
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    • Posted

      I'm still uncertain as to the units as they are not labeled that way in the US. I am easily not drinking six days out of the week… And like I said sometimes only twice a month but if it takes you out for four days afterward the damage is substantial enough IMO. What would 15 units look like for you Thomas? Sounds like a good goal. With the second step be not having or 15 units in one evening? That would still constitute binge drinking correct? I agree that if I have two glasses of wine that might alter my thinking enough to continue and have too many say 4 to 6… I want to avoid that and only have two… At the very most three average size glasses in one evening… I don't know how many units that is. Are you doing TSM?

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    • Posted

      I take it you are in the US. In the UK, one alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. This equals one 25ml single measure of whisky (ABV 40%), or a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of red wine (ABV 12%). I think it is the same in the US.

      Your bottle of Prosecco (750ml) would be nearly 10 UK units at 13%. Another way of working it out is to multiply the amount (750) by the alc content (13%) and divide by 1000 which gives you 9.75 units.

      On a hot evening I would normally have a cold beer (say 2 units) and then be tempted to have a glass of white wine - or two - or three! In my local shop they are all on offer ready chilled (particularly nice Sauvignon on offer) but I bought a chocolate ice cream instead and now I honestly don't feel like a drink. I'm pretty sure I will stay that way tonight. The ice cream was fewer calories than the drinks I might well have had too.

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    • Posted

      Sorry, didn't answer your specific questions. In the UK, anything over 8 units is a binge. So you wouldn't have finished your one bottle of 13% wine before you are bingeing. 15 units for me could be 2 pints of beer (5) then say 3 x 175 ml glasses of Prosecco (I buy a less strong one) which is another 6 units. On 11 I'm flying and, if I'm having something to eat a spot of red (say a 250 ml large glass of Merlot at 13.5% and I'm over 14. It's easy and you could say I just had a couple of beers plus a few glasses of Prosecco and a glass of red to go with dinner. As I have innumerable times. But, at the end of that, let's be straight about this. I'm drunk!

      After dry days the second step is to keep out of binge drinking. My limit is 6 units. I have also discovered that over 6 causes me to wake sometimes after 4 hours or so feeling fine with no hangover but unable to go back to sleep. I think it's called Glutamine rebound but that is for another day. If the units are in double figures then I tend to sleep for longer but the quality is poor and I wake feeling a bit hungover but I don't really do hangovers and recover quite quickly. I may not feel so wide awake come the afternoon. I've logged this all so many times I can reliably predict what will happen to me on however many units. Doesn't always stop me wanting more though.

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    • Posted

      Finally I'm not doing TSM. I also use wine glasses with measures (usually) showing 125, 175 and 250 mls. Some wine glasses are so big that you can fill them and you are probably holding 4-5 units in your hand. All the time thinking: 'I'm only having one glass!'

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    • Posted

      A bottle of red at 12% (and many are stronger) is 9 units. A binge is 8 units. There you go! A bottle of nearly any wine (except perhaps some German wines at 9%) is a binge. The recommended daily limit for women in the UK at 2-3 units (men 3-4) so one third of a bottle is meant to be the limit. Full stop!
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