Small Changes Make Big Differences in Reducing Chances of Alcohol-Related Problems

By Dorice Favorite
Navy Director of Alcohol and Drug Prevention Programs

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching and the idea of making a resolution or two may have crossed your mind. Many Sailors take this time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.

Chief Culinary Specialist Kathy-Ann Gomez, the command drug and alcohol program advisor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), center, gives alcohol abuse prevention training to Sailors during a Mind, Body, Spirit symposium on the ship's auxiliary barge, March 21, 2012. Harry S. Truman was undergoing a docking planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to conduct maintenance and refurbish shipboard systems. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary D. Montgomery/Released)

Chief Culinary Specialist Kathy-Ann Gomez, the command drug and alcohol program advisor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), center, gives alcohol abuse prevention training to Sailors during a Mind, Body, Spirit symposium on the ship’s auxiliary barge, March 21, 2012. Harry S. Truman was undergoing a docking planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to conduct maintenance and refurbish shipboard systems. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary D. Montgomery/Released)

If you’ve thought over the last year that your drinking may be an issue, small changes can make a big difference in reducing your chances of a future alcohol-related problem occurring.

  • Keep track of how much you drink. Find a way that works for you, carry drinking tracker cards in your wallet or enter notes in a mobile phone notepad. Making note of each drink before you drink it may help you slow down when needed.
  • Count your drinks, but know how they count. Know the standard drink sizes so you can count your drinks accurately. You may be getting more alcohol than you think. Mixed drinks often contain multiple shots of alcohol. Liquor contains more alcohol by volume than a beer.
  • Set limitations and commit to them. Decide how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you’ll have on those days. This is your resolution, so set a limitation that is reasonable for you.
  • Pace yourself. Sip slowly and have no more than one standard drink of alcohol per hour. Try to make every other drink a non-alcoholic one such as water, soda or juice. You’ll stay hydrated and feel better afterwards.

There are a lot of ways to occupy your time that don’t involve alcohol. By developing new interests and friendships that are not centered on drinking activities, drinking can become less of a focus in your life. Contact your Coalition of Sailors against Destructive Decisions chapter or volunteer coordinator to find out ways you can help in your community or see what travel opportunities or activities Morale, Welfare and Recreation have to offer.

Only you know what activities lead you to drink. If certain people or places steer you to drink more than you want, try to avoid them. If certain activities, times of day or feelings trigger the urge, plan something else at that time or avoid those activities. If drinking at home is a problem, remove alcohol from the home.

Whatever strategies you choose to change your drinking habits, give them a chance. If one approach doesn’t work, try something else. Remember, it takes at least three weeks to make a habit stick. If you are still concerned, consider visiting your command Drug and Alcohol Program advisors, chaplain or Fleet and Family Support Center counselor for assistance.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

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Small Changes Make Big Differences in Reducing Chances of Alcohol-Related Problems