A piece written by our CEO, Penny Williams on Grey Drinking. What is it and what can you do about it?
Historically the thinking surrounding alcoholism has implied that you are either an alcoholic, or you have completely normal drinking habits, but in reality, there is a spectrum of alcohol consumption, with many people not fitting fully into either category. This spectrum is called the “Grey Area” and can prove to be a problematic place to be for those individuals who fall into it.
The Grey Area can potentially prove to be a dangerous position to be in, as many who are consuming a larger amount of alcohol or using alcohol in an unhealthy manner may outwardly look like they are functioning well. However, using alcohol as a coping mechanism in order to feel happy and fulfilled can lead many to be miserable and can negatively impact their health in the long run.
Lockdown has increased anxiety and stress and in doing so, highlighted the growth in Grey Area Drinking. A survey carried out by Alcohol Change UK during lockdown found more than one-quarter of people surveyed (28%) agreed with “overall, I have drunk more alcohol than usual during lockdown”. Also, the frequency of drinking and the number of units had increased particularly with those parents of under 18’s. The main reason was a response to stress or anxiety, which definitely implies that individuals are using alcohol as a method of feeling happier or more relaxed and potentially falling into this “Grey Area” of drinking.
So how can you overcome slipping into the Grey Area?
Having an awareness of your alcohol intake is key. If you aren’t physically dependent on alcohol then you don’t necessarily need to aim for abstinence, but may need to work on managing your intake. The UK guidelines on alcohol intake is currently 14 units a week, which is equivalent to no more than 6 pints of average-strength beer (4% ABV) or 7 medium-sized glasses of wine (175ml, 12% ABV). If you are drinking more than this it can have a detrimental effect on your health, so working on cutting down will be essential.
Counselling can help put into place harm reduction strategies and tools to reduce risky drinking and allow you to enjoy your drink whilst avoiding the addictive cycle that leads to physical and emotional negative outcomes. So, rather than using alcohol to alleviate stress, why not take a walk, go to the gym or even call a friend? Addressing the reasoning for your drinking will be key in ensuring that you don’t fall back into unhealthy drinking habits naturally in the future.
At Kenward Trust we have started a Day Treatment programme to provide counselling and support to those who recognise they are suffering from issues surrounding alcohol or drugs, but do not feel they need residential rehabilitation. If you feel this may be the case and would like some specialist support contact our team confidentially on 07597 040091 or email firstname.lastname@example.org