Welcome to Underdrinker, where we take a closer look at our up and down relationship with alcohol. Here we share tips on staying in (or getting into) a healthy zone with booze, especially during a pandemic.  If you’re spending long hours at home it can be all too easy for alcohol to move in and take up space in your life.

DON’T LET LONG DAYS AT HOME BE THE START OF A BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH ALCOHOL.

UNDERDRINKING 101

About alcohol

Alcohol seems to promise much, but what does it deliver?
Because alcohol is a drug, it has both short and long term effects on your brain and body.

Check out Rethink Your Drinking to learn more about how alcohol affects you.

 

A healthy relationship with alcohol

It’s all about knowing yourself, respecting boundaries, and balancing the good and the not-so-good to stay in a healthy or “low risk” zone.

This “low risk” zone is handily summed up in Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. These are straightforward, science-based recommendations for alcohol consumption plus tips for lowering your risk. The guidelines answer the question of how much and how often. Importantly, the guidelines also define what is a “standard drink”.

UNDERDRINKING IN THE TIME OF COVID

The pandemic has shifted our daily lives and habits significantly. On the upside, many people have been able to focus on wellness during this pandemic and are feeling the benefits of cutting down or quitting drinking. On the downside, the stress, anxiety and lack of routine has led to an increase in unhealthy drinking for some.

Let’s get one thing straight, the mental health of Canadians has definitely been impacted by COVID-19. The stress and anxiety that this pandemic has unleashed can make it difficult to cope. Some of us may find alcohol to be a familiar companion and easy coping strategy.

If you find your drinking habits changing for the worse during COVID-19, you’re not alone. Research shows that people are drinking more during this pandemic. It doesn’t take a lot for our relationship with alcohol to get complicated. Luckily, there are things you can do to assess the situation and switch up to healthier options.

KNOW THYSELF

Assess Your Drinking

 

Do you think you have a healthy relationship with alcohol? How can you tell?

The first step is to pay attention using CAT:

CAT Count Ask Think

COUNT – How many standard drinks you consume in a day and over a week? How does this compare to the Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines?

ASK – What are the typical reasons or situations in which you drink alcohol? How has this changed in the last several months? How is your alcohol consumption affecting your life now?

THINK – What makes you feel good, safe, happy, and well during this time? For some it can be exercise, mindfulness, connecting online, or even getting some fresh air. For others, maybe reaching out for support or talking it out.

Check Your Drinking is an 18-question anonymous quiz to answer questions about your drinking. 

Know the Signs

 

Cutting down is always a good idea, but there are some signs that alcohol might be becoming a problem for you

  • Drinking in excess of the Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
  • Drinking to cope with stress, anxiety and negative emotions
  • Changes in your drinking habits, such as drinking earlier in the day, drinking alone, drinking every day, and drinking more than you did before
  • Having guilt or hiding your drinking from others
  • Noticing an impact on your school, work, relationships or other responsibilities
  • Not being able to stop drinking even if you think you should
  • Experiencing dependence (needing more for the same effect) or withdrawal symptoms

If you want to understand and take charge of your drinking, read on for Tips and Support.

TIPS & SUPPORT

Many people are saying “less is more” to alcohol and feeling the benefits. Even small changes can have a big impact. Be an Underdrinker and join the movement for a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Tips on cutting down

Start with understanding when and why you drink, and then set some goals for yourself. Here are just a few tips to help you get started.

Use digital supports or online communities to get you started and keep you motivated, such as:

 

  • Saying When (Apple | Android): This app can help reduce or quit drinking, available for Apple iPhone and Android devices. Saying When is designed for people who are concerned about their drinking, but do not have a severe alcohol use disorder.
  • Hello Sunday Morning – Join an international community of folks taking charge of their drinking.

Get Support

 

If you are concerned about your drinking, or have an alcohol use disorder, there is help. Talk with your health care provider, or use these services listed below.

 

Apps and online tools

      • Saying When (Apple | Android): This app can help reduce or quit drinking, available for Apple iPhone and Android devices. Saying When is designed for people who are concerned about their drinking, but do not have a severe alcohol use disorder.
      • Hello Sunday Morning – Join an international community of folks taking charge of their drinking.

Online and phone support

      • Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support – Get connected to mental health and substance use support, resources, and counselling with a mental health professional. Free and available 24/7.
      • NAN HOPE – phone, text or live chat support for NAN communities and Citizens with mental health and addictions needs.
      • Talk4Healing – Confidential, culturally safe help line for Indigenous women in Ontario.

To find services in your area:

      • ConnexOntario @ 1-866-531-2600 – Free, confidential help to find support for addictions, mental health and problem gambling, available 24/7.
      • Call 211 or visit 211North.ca to find local community, health and government services.