HealthFirst

Alcohol Part 2

10th July 2024

Posted by Dr Michelle Wright

Last week’s Health Matters was all about alcohol, its associated health risks and the low risk drinking guidelines in various countries. As promised, this week Dr Michelle discusses some practical steps if you’re looking to reduce your intake and some important support resources across the country.  

What are some practical steps if you’re looking to reduce your alcohol intake?

I think the first thing to do if you want to reduce your alcohol intake is to set yourself clear goals.  

  • Decide how many days a week you want to drink and set a limit on the number of drinks you have. 
  • Aim to have at least two alcohol-free days per week. 
  • Plan and schedule activities on these days that don’t involve alcohol. This might give you the opportunity to explore new hobbies or activities.  

Find a way to monitor your drinking. 

  • Keeping a diary of your drinking habits can help you to identify patterns and triggers. 
  • And there are plenty of Apps or online tools making this easy. A free App from the National Health Service in the UK called Drink Free Days is a good example.  

Also, find alternatives to alcohol that work for you.  

  • Experiment with mocktails or alcohol-free beers and wines. 

And stay hydrated. 

  • Alternating water or these non-alcoholic drinks between those containing alcohol can help to reduce your overall alcohol intake.  

Seeking support from others can also be helpful.  

  • Letting your friends and family know about your goals means that they can be there for you.  
  • Some people also find that joining a support group, or finding a buddy who also wants to reduce their alcohol intake, can make the difference for them. This doesn’t need to be in person. Again, there are plenty of online options. One Year No Beer, again out of the UK, is one that I’ve heard good things about.  

Be mindful of your triggers 

  • It can be helpful to identify situations or emotions that trigger your urge to drink and develop alternative strategies to cope with these. 

And finally, educate yourself 

  • Learning about the health effects of alcohol and the benefits of cutting back can be a good motivator.  
What are some support resources in Switzerland if you do need further help?

I’m sure that most people have heard about Alcoholics Anonymous offering meetings and support for people wanting to reduce or quit alcohol. You can find local meetings in English on their website, just google Alcoholics Anonymous Switzerland  for more information.  

And the associated Al-Anon provides support for families and friends of individuals with drinking problems. Again, you can google Al-Anon Switzerland.  

There’s an online platform stop-alcool.ch (al-col) offering advice, information, and tools in French, German and Italian to help individuals reduce their alcohol intake.  

And the website addictionsuisse.ch (Suisse spelt the French way) can also point you towards various support resources.  

Of course, you can speak with your doctor, or another healthcare professional, therapist or counsellor specialised in alcohol and substance use, for personalized advice and support. Many healthcare providers offer counselling and treatment programs tailored to reducing alcohol intake. 

And in a crisis situation, the English language service of the Swiss National Helpline 143 offers confidential support and advice. It’s called Heart2Heart, lines are open from 6pm-11pm daily. And the number to call is 0800 143 000.   

I think my takeaway message is that there are options out there to help you reduce your alcohol intake and improve your overall health and well-being. But it’s important to take things one step at a time and seek support when needed. 

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