About 21% of all adults in California (5.8 million) are binge drinkers according to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. As a reminder – the Department says binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, on the same occasion at least once during the past month. Over 2.2 million Californians meet the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse.
This is a shocking statistic. According to the San Fransisco Chronicle in June 2008, alcohol problems cost the State $36bn a year in , injuries, health care costs, lost productivity and other social impacts.
So, if you are one of those suffering from this what are the immediate steps you can take?
I have just been reading a book by John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue – a magazine which is sold by homeless people in the UK which has helped many people turn their lives around. In his book, ‘How To Change Your Life In 7 Steps’, a couple of his chapters are relevant:
1. Start with 3% – meaning try and take the changes to your life with alcohol step by step and don’t try and change everything at once. What is the first single step you can take to turn your life around?
Perhaps it is speaking with your medical practitioner, or speaking to a friend or trusted loved one. Or maybe just making a diary of when you have been drinking.
The key is to start asap and not expect to change your life overnight.
2. Stop Thinking Like A Victim
This means blaming other people for your problems and your current situation or thinking everything is ‘unfair’. Or identifying and almost being proud of where you are in life even though you are unhappy.
Taking responsibility for your actions is the issue and whilst you may need some assistance in terms of advice or support, you are responsible for your actions and you must not forget that.
So stop making excuses or blaming others for your alcohol issues – whether that is your boss, your spouse, the economy, your perceived lack of options etc.
Once you start making a change in your thinking, you can start changing your behaviour and can investigate options to work on your drinking issues.
The most important thing is not to ignore it, avoid it and the best thing is always to take positive action towards dealing with your alcohol problems one step at a time.