Having a job that involves saving lives, homes, and property can be satisfying, but there are days when it can also be frustrating. These are the days when some firefighters/paramedics may turn to alcohol to get rid of painful memories.
If you’re a firefighter or paramedic—or anyone else, for that matter—and want to make sure you don’t fall into the grip of alcoholism, there are several strategies that can help you drink responsibly or even stay alert. Furthermore, if you are currently recovering from alcoholism, it is essential to avoid alcoholic beverages completely to maintain your sobriety.
How do I know I need to quit drinking alcohol?
The easiest way to find out if you need to quit drinking is to try to stop.
If you are successful in reducing your alcohol intake, you may not need to stop in the long term.
If you choose to stop drinking, most experts recommend abstaining from alcohol for at least three days. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms or your life is significantly affected, this is a sign that there is a problem.
Another way to determine if it is time to stop drinking is to take stock of your life and ask yourself, “Am I an alcoholic?”
Self-reflection can help you determine if you are happy in your relationship with alcohol.
Other common signs of a problem with alcohol include:
- Your friends and family bring your drink
- Your work or school performance suffers
- You find yourself drinking alone
- You can’t remember the last day you didn’t drink
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurs when you can’t control how much you drink. It’s a brain disorder and it takes more than just willpower to get over it. For some, controlling their alcohol consumption is the important factor in avoiding AUD.
1. Don’t keep alcohol at home
Having alcohol at home makes it easy to drink without accountability, especially if you live alone or have a tendency to drink alone. By keeping your home free of alcohol, you can reduce the chances of alcohol addiction in the form of drinking or drinking out of boredom. Try to limit your drinking to social events in public with someone you can trust to help you set boundaries.
2. Know your limits
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, low-risk alcohol consumption is equivalent to four drinks or less (14 grams of pure alcohol = one drink) in one day and less than the 14 drinks per week for men. It is important to note that these guidelines do not apply to those who meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, are in recovery, or have a strong family history of alcoholism. For women, the recommended guidelines are three or fewer drinks per day and no more than seven glasses per week. However, variables, such as weight and age, may cause your alcohol tolerance to be lower than these low-risk guidelines. As a way to keep track of your alcohol consumption, use a drink-tracking card or app.
3. Make friends that do not drink
Think of your friends and ask yourself, “Are all or most of my friends also my drinking companions?” If so, you may need to make a change if you want to reduce your chances of using alcohol, or stay alert during your recovery. Try to make friends who don’t drink at all, or spend more time with people who don’t drink much. After all, it is easy to drink recklessly if you have friends who do it with you. If you socialize with people who don’t drink or who don’t drink much, you may be less likely to drink alcohol yourself or drink less than usual.
4. Find a support group
Joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can help reduce the chances of alcohol addiction or help you recover again. This group is for anyone with current or past struggles with alcoholism or alcohol abuse by creating opportunities for friendships, a support system, and accountability partners to help you keep drinking in check. No matter how serious your alcohol use is, consider the recovery support group.
5. Registration for treatment
If you think you need professional help for the alcohol abuse, there are many centers of excellence that offer treatment to help you regain control of your life. The center also provides programs for alcoholism, as well as other substance use disorders. The center offers 18 months of post-hospital monitoring of aftercare to help you stay on track with your recovery while keeping up with the demands of your job. Call today to speak with someone who has been in your place and can guide you through your treatment and recovery process.