07:25pm Wednesday 16 October 2019

Extra Dry July- Limiting excessive drinking after ‘Dry July’

Or have you already broken your ‘Dry July’ pledge? You’re not alone. Dry July is an excellent opportunity to expose unhelpful drinking patterns, yet many will resume these habits on the first day of August.

Experts from the University of Wollongong (UOW) say controlled drinking can be an attractive alternative to eliminating alcohol over the long-term, and involves actively reducing alcohol intake to manageable, healthy levels.

The most recent National Health Survey indicated that about 15 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women in Australia are drinking at risky/high risk levels. The number of Australians drinking at risky levels has increased by about 50 per cent for men and nearly 100 per cent for women over the past 10 years. Alcohol continues to be the second largest cause of drug-related deaths and hospitalisations in Australia, and the main cause of deaths on roads.*

So while your efforts in Dry July or Ocsober may have seemed in vain, Northfields Clinic at UOW is providing an opportunity to regain some initiative by offering a Controlled Drinking Group to Illawarra residents who are concerned about their alcohol consumption but who do not want to stop drinking altogether. The six week skills-based Controlled Drinking Program aims to restore an individual’s self-control over their drinking habits so that casual drinks never turn into an unhealthy binge, a nasty hangover or regrettable actions.

Dr Bronwyn Hegarty, the program facilitator at Northfields clinic, said that controlled drinking was based on the view that individuals learn to drink in certain ways in response to their life experiences.

“Since drinking patterns have been learnt, they can be re-learnt.”

“Most men and women who want to curb their intake of alcohol can learn to moderate their drinking – and enjoy it – without stopping altogether,” Dr Hegarty said.

She said the program was suitable for individuals who have a mild to moderate dependence on alcohol and are free from serious alcohol-related health problems and severe mental illness.

“The program focuses on increasing participants’ awareness of difficulties with their current drinking patterns, of new alternatives and coping strategies, and of ways of putting it all into practice,” she said.

Dr Hegarty said that more than 30 years of research has shown that controlled drinking group programs produce positive results with a reduction in alcohol consumption and general improvement in well-being.

While Dry July might seem like a short and fun one month challenge, the meaningful change lies beyond July and into the future. Regaining control over your drinking for good is both a worthwhile challenge and lifestyle change, with long lasting benefits for your wallet, social life and health.

Note: Individuals can self-refer to this program by simply contacting the Northfields Clinic on 02 4221 3747. Sessions are held during the early evening. All participants must attend a pre-group assessment and have a GP health check before the program. Cost for the assessment and six-week program is $60 or $35 concession. The next group begins on 6.30pm Tuesday 30 July 2013 (Northfields Clinic).

Media contact: – Dr Bronwyn Hegarty – (02) 4221 3747

[* Statistics from the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority highlight the increased risk of being involved in a crash when alcohol is involved. If your blood alcohol level is 0.05 (you double the risk), 0.08 (you take seven times the risk) and at 0.15 (you take 25 times the risk)]

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