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How to Drink Mindfully – Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol awareness week

Alcohol Awareness Week in the United Kingdom is an annual event that aims to draw attention to the impact of alcohol on individuals, families, and communities. This dedicated week provides a platform for education, discussion, and support surrounding alcohol-related issues, promoting healthier attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol consumption. Recognized nationwide, Alcohol Awareness Week serves as a vital opportunity to highlight the consequences of excessive drinking and to encourage individuals to make informed choices about their alcohol intake.

This years Alcohol Awareness week takes place on 3rd – 9th July.

During Alcohol Awareness Week, numerous campaigns are launched across the country to educate and engage the public. These campaigns often focus on challenging commonly held misconceptions about alcohol, debunking myths, and providing evidence-based information about its effects on physical and mental health. The overarching aim is to encourage individuals to evaluate their own relationship with alcohol and make informed decisions.

For more information, please visit the dedicated alcohol awareness week website:

Alcohol Awareness Week | Alcohol Change UK


What is problem drinking?

Problem drinking refers to the consumption of alcohol that has negative consequences on an individual’s physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life. It goes beyond occasional or moderate drinking and signifies a pattern of excessive alcohol intake that leads to significant distress or harm. Identifying problem drinking is crucial, as it allows individuals to seek appropriate support and make positive changes in their lives.

The total social cost of alcohol to society is estimated to be at least £21 billion each year. We as individuals also spend tens of thousands of pounds on average on alcohol over the course of a lifetime.



Problem drinking can be seen through a variety of behaviours and symptoms that indicate an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, including:

  • Consuming alcohol in large quantities or for extended periods.
  • Experiencing cravings or an inability to control drinking.
  • Drinking alcohol to mask emotional and physical pain.
  • Neglecting responsibilities or relationships due to alcohol use.
  • Continuing to drink despite experiencing negative consequences such as physical or psychological problems.

The impact of problem drinking:

Physical Health:

Problem drinking can have severe physical health consequences. Excessive alcohol consumption over time can lead to liver damage, cardiovascular issues, increased risk of certain cancers, weakened immune system, and neurological impairment. Additionally, it can contribute to accidents and injuries, as impaired judgment and coordination often accompany heavy drinking.


Mental and Emotional Well-being:

Problem drinking significantly impacts mental and emotional well-being. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and prolonged and excessive use can disrupt brain chemistry, leading to increased risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. It can also exacerbate existing mental health issues, making them more challenging to manage.


Social and Relationship Consequences:

Problem drinking can strain relationships and social interactions. It may lead to conflicts with family members, friends, and colleagues, as well as impaired functioning in professional and personal domains. Increased isolation, reduced productivity, and financial difficulties are common outcomes of problem drinking, contributing to further stress and emotional distress.


Seeking Help and Support:

Recognizing problem drinking and seeking help is an important step towards recovery. Various support options are available, including counselling, therapy, support groups, and helplines. These resources provide individuals with the tools and strategies to address underlying issues, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and make positive changes in their alcohol consumption habits.

What is mindful drinking?

Mindful drinking involves approaching alcohol consumption with a heightened awareness and thoughtful consideration. By applying principles of mindfulness to drinking habits, individuals can experience various benefits that positively impact their mental health and well-being.


How mindful drinking can be beneficial for improving mental health:

  • Increased Self-Awareness: Mindful drinking encourages individuals to be more conscious of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations while consuming alcohol. By paying close attention to their internal experiences, individuals can gain a better understanding of how alcohol affects their mood, behaviour, and overall well-being
  • Improved Emotional Regulation: Mindful drinking involves being attuned to one’s emotions and learning to regulate them effectively. Rather than using alcohol as a means to escape or numb emotions, individuals can learn healthier coping strategies and address underlying emotional issues
  • Enhanced Moderation: Mindful drinking promotes moderation and responsible alcohol consumption. It encourages individuals to pace their drinking, savour the taste, and be aware of their limits
  • Improved Sleep Quality: Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and negatively impact mental health. Mindful drinking involves being mindful of the effects of alcohol on sleep and making conscious choices to prioritize quality rest
  • Heightened Present-Moment Awareness: Mindful drinking emphasizes being fully present in the moment, rather than mindlessly consuming alcohol. By paying attention to the taste, smell, and sensations associated with drinking, individuals can cultivate a sense of appreciation and enjoyment
  • Strengthened Social Connections: Mindful drinking can enhance social interactions and relationships. By being fully present in social settings and engaging in meaningful conversations, individuals can build stronger connections with others. This fosters a sense of belonging and support, which is vital for maintaining positive mental health


How to start mindfully drinking:

Starting to practice mindful drinking involves adopting a conscious and intentional approach to alcohol consumption. Here are some steps to help you begin your journey towards mindful drinking:

  • Reflect on Your Current Drinking Habits: Take some time to honestly assess your current relationship with alcohol. Reflect on your motivations for drinking, the frequency and quantity of alcohol you consume, and any negative consequences it may have on your mental and physical well-being. This self-reflection will help you understand your starting point and identify areas for improvement.
  • Set Clear Intentions: Define your goals and intentions for practicing mindful drinking. Consider why you want to adopt this approach and what specific changes you hope to achieve. For example, your intention might be to have a healthier relationship with alcohol, reduce consumption, or develop greater self-awareness.
  • Practice Self-Awareness: Develop a mindful approach by paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations before, during, and after drinking. Notice how alcohol affects your mood, behaviour, and overall well-being. Be aware of any triggers or patterns that lead to excessive or unhealthy drinking. This self-awareness will help you make more conscious choices.
  • Slow Down and Savour: When you do choose to drink, slow down and savour the experience. Take your time to appreciate the taste, smell, and texture of the beverage. Engage your senses and be fully present in the moment. By slowing down, you’ll become more attuned to your body’s signals and be less likely to overindulge.
  • Practice Moderation: Set limits and practice moderation in your alcohol consumption. Be mindful of the quantity and frequency of your drinking. Consider using tools such as measuring units, tracking your intake, or using alcohol-free days to ensure you maintain a balanced approach
  • Explore Alternative Coping Strategies: Instead of relying solely on alcohol to cope with stress or difficult emotions, explore healthier alternatives. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to develop effective coping mechanisms that do not involve alcohol.
  • Seek Support: Consider joining support groups or seeking professional help if you find it challenging to make changes on your own. Support from others who share similar goals and experiences can be valuable in maintaining mindful drinking practices.

Remember, practicing mindful drinking is a journey, and it’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Each small step towards mindfulness can have a positive impact on your mental health and overall well-being.


Community Support:

If you are finding yourself struggling with alcohol consumption, the following can support you to make a change:

  • Drinkline (Drinkaware): Drinkline is a free, confidential helpline providing information and support for anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking.
    Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (Weekdays 9 am-8 pm, weekends 11 am-4 pm)

  • Alcohol Change UK: Alcohol Change UK is a national charity that offers resources, support, and advocacy for individuals and families affected by alcohol problems.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is a fellowship of men and women who have had drinking problems and provide mutual support for recovery.
    Helpline: 0800 9177 650 (24-hour helpline)

  • NHS – Find Alcohol Support Services: The National Health Service (NHS) provides information on local alcohol support services available across England. You can search for services in your area using the NHS website.

  • Talk to Frank: Talk to Frank is a confidential helpline providing information and support on drugs and alcohol.
    Helpline: 0300 123 6600 (24-hour helpline)


At Psymplicity Healthcare our therapists can offer support for a variety for someone who is struggling with their drinking and any other substance use disorders. We pride ourselves on offering a warm, calm and comfortable environment where we can talk through your concerns and develop a personalised treatment plan. If you do feel that you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of alcohol or substance abuse, or any other distressing issues, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Shaun Connell

Shaun Connell

Shaun is a senior Assistant Psychologist, with a breadth of experience in delivering therapeutic interventions, utilising a Dialectical and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework. Shaun delivers individual therapy sessions in a compassionate and non-judgemental space, focussing on building an understanding of where difficulties may lay and identifying real life skills you can incorporate every day, to support overcoming life’s mental health challenges.

Shaun has completed a BSc in Psychology, as well as several different skill-based courses, enabling him to deliver therapeutic support for mental health difficulties including anxiety, depression, ADHD, symptoms of EUPD, low self-esteem and sleep.

Having worked for many years within NHS and private settings, including inpatient hospitals, prisons and the community, Shaun has a well-rounded capability to understand, assess and create a therapeutic plan to best support your needs. Therapy with an assistant psychologist can be the perfect building blocks prior to engaging with a psychologist

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