Many people struggle with drinking. Even those that don’t meet criteria for Alcoholism know that they drink too much but feel powerless to reduce their alcohol intake. As with any self destructive, addictive behavior, there is seemingly an auto-pilot that takes over and instead of taking a step back and looking at the anxiety and other forms of distress, people tend to self-medicate with alcohol, often trying to pre-empt the anxiety or poor mood before it takes hold.
I have noticed using mindfulness throughout the day and/or meditation really works for reducing alcohol as well as drug use. I have noticed clients being able to refrain from substances by using these techniques. A lot of the drinking or drug use people engage in is an automatic, self-soothing response.
When you put space in between the experience and the difficult feelings that come from the experience, instead of automatically self-soothing, you may find that you can reduce your reliance on substances (or other bad self-soothing habit). You gradually start to be able to manage your own emotions. Take a bit of time every now and then to notice your thoughts and feeling. Not engage with them and wrestle with them as people often automatically do, but just pay attention and observe. This mindfulness is important in gauging where you are in your thoughts and feelings and whether your experiencing “fight or flight” that which you would feel compelled to self sooth with a substance or unwelcome behavior. Knowing how close you are to losing control and using is key to being able to redirect your attention and redirect your action to something healthy and non-substance related.
Meditating for 10 – 20 minutes often can take the edge off of your distressed feelings, anxiety, etc. The world feels less crazy, you feel less endangered. You may opt to strategically place your meditation just before, in the middle or just after a stressful time. This helps you refresh and revitalize your mind and spirit making you better able to withstand the stress/ distress and look at things with rational, more calm perspective.