Don’t cry for me Margarita: Breaking up from your relationship with alcohol

margarita.jpgHave you ever questioned your relationship with alcohol? Have you ever made rules for yourself in regard to your drinking behaviours (eg, I’ll only drink wine, nothing stronger; I’ll only have 3 drinks max before I go home – no more)? Has anyone close to you asked you about your drinking? Do you ever wonder if your drinking is getting out of your control? Many of us do. You are not alone.

At the beginning of the year it is common to reflect and take stock, and when people do, many choose to take a break from alcohol for a while. Taking a break has numerous benefits including experiencing improved sleep, increased productivity, better mental healths (alleviation of experience of depression and anxiety), better complexion, and potential weight loss. So, it makes sense to take a break.

Perhaps you don’t feel confident to break up, or perhaps you think you really need alcohol in order to be you (ie a co-dependent style relationship). Perhaps you wonder if your relationship with alcohol is unhealthy. Catherine Gray, in the book, the unexpected joy of being sober, suggests that that one third of regular drinkers are worried that they drink too much, but only half of those who worry actually do something about their drinking behaviour.

It isn’t your fault if you are confused or even ashamed about your relationship to alcohol. You have been tricked, entangled, and trapped, in that relationship. Advertising, and society, treat alcohol as a social lubricant when it is more of a social charlatan, hiding the reality of alcohol as silent poisonous killer. The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem as alcohol is a major risk factor in health and social issues such as violence, accidents, child neglect, absenteeism and mental health issues.

If you want to take a break there are a number of options for you to consider – from books, to online resources, to face to face support. There are a number of resources that can help you give up for a week, a month, a year, or forever.


There are a number of books that support breaks from alcohol, of any period. In my opinion the books sharing the experience of the author seem more compelling, and less judgemental than some of the more academic books. I have included both styles of books in the following list. Many of these books are recommended by online support groups. These books can easily be found from online book retailers.

The Naked Mind – Annie Grace 

It is easy to understand why this book is a best-seller. This books is a motivational behaviour change book based on links between the unconscious and conscious mind. These techniques are common in the Allen Carr style of sessions – helping you reframe your relationship to alcohol, so that giving up seems more like  you have regained freedom rather than missing out. I would recommend this as a first book to read if you are considering any kind ofbooks on drinking break.

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

Another popular best-seller, the unexpected joy is a well written memoir with extremely practical advice and insights. Gray provides information to help you staying sober for 30 days, and abstinence beyond . There is a great Facebook page attached to this label online.

Alcohol Lied to Me – Craig Beck 

Craig Beck was a highly functional, “2 bottles of wine a night” drinker. From the outside he looked like he had his drinking under control, but that wasn’t his reality. Craig Beck has written a treasure trove of quit drinking books and has programmes attached to his model. The process starts with exploring misconceptions that we hold about alcohol.

Nothing Good Can Come from This – Kirsti Coulter 

This memoir of one woman’s journey to sober, provides a sometimes funny, and worrying, commentary on women and their problematic love relationship to alcohol

Girl Walks Out of a Bar – Lisa Smith

Another memoir, this book explores cases of individuals who have been successful career wise, but struggled in their relationships with alcohol. Lisa Smith provides a real, emotive take on her experience of recovery

Almost Alcoholic – Robert Doyle & Joseph Nowinski 

A fairly academic book written by clinical psychologists. This book outlines the problematic drinking behaviour which does not reach the level of diagnostic classification, outlining the cost of their drinking and providing practical cessation and limitation guidelines.


Online support groups

Online groups and platforms provide support and discussion possibilities. Some are free whilst others are paid for. The most popular groups can be found on Facebook and online. The benefit of these groups is that you can maintain some degree of anonymity but still get some support.

One Year No Beer – 
One Year No Beer is a cessation programme that provides paid for support alcohol-free challenge options for one month, 3 month and 1 year programmes. Boasting over 55,000 members and plenty of tales from successful challenge completers, you can sample OYNB content on their Facebook page first to see if this is a good match for you. Many of the OYNB members take on positive health challenges aligned to their break from drinking, with added potential health benefits.

The alcohol experiment –

Attached to the Naked Mind platform, this 30 day free program (beyond that there is some cost) provides groups, mentors and advice how to move away from alcohol. Currently there are 35,000 users, and many success stories.


In real life 

If you have a more serious issue with alcohol a face-to-face option may be your best choice. You can also discuss these options with your general practitioner. Some defining questions follow this section to help you frame if it is time for you to consider change.

Support Group – Alcoholics Anonymous

With more than 35 meetings a week in Hong Kong, this is the most famous alcohol recovery programme on the planet. This 12 step program includes all the great milestones of change management including support groups, mentoring, personal exploration and no judgement. Some people have reservations about elements of AA, but there is no denying the good that AA tries to do to support people recovering from problems with alcohol.

Recovery/ Rehab – the Cabin HK (and Thailand) .

In Thailand, the Cabin runs a private rehabilitation facility aimed at the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse issues (in addition to co-morbid conditions). In Hong Kong the Cabin provides an outpatient treatment programme including counselling.

Face-to-face therapy: Counselling – various 

You may start your exploration of your relationship with alcohol in a relationship with a counsellor. Therapeutic alliance, ie how much you fit with your counsellor, is a major factor in the success of your therapy, so shop around to find the right fit for you. If you’d like some more questions about the RED DOOR offering feel free to contact


Is your drinking problematic? 

Is it time for you to consider a break-up? The following is NOT a diagnostic test, but includes some of the types of questions that would be used for a formal diagnosis of substance abuse issues. Please answer Yes or No to the following 10 questions.

  1. In the past year have there been times when you have consumed more alcohol, or drank for a longer period, than you had originally intended?
  2.  In the past year, has your drinking interfered with your relationship with friends, family or work colleagues.
  3. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before? 
  4. In the past year, have you wanted to cut down your drinking amount or frequency and found yourself unable to do so?
  5. In the past year, have you blacked-out as a consequence from drinking alcohol?
  6. In the past year, have you lost personal items such as your keys, or wallet, whilst you were inebriated?
  7. In the past year, have you missed work, or key appointments on a few occasions because of alcohol consumption the night before?
  8. In the past year, have you noticed that your tolerance to alcohol has increased, and you now need to consume more alcohol in order to feel it’s effects?
  9.  In the past year, have you found yourself in situations where you may have compromised your personal safety, or the safety of others, as a consequence of consuming alcohol
  10. In the past year, have you started to experience some of the symptoms frequently labelled as  alcohol withdrawal, when you are not drinking including shaking, experiencing a racing heart, sweating more than usual, nausea, or trouble sleeping.


How many questions did you answer with a “YES” response? If you answered three or more with a YES, then I recommend you consider to break-up with the booze, if only for a short period, but possibly for more. Certainly take a look at the resources listed in this article. You deserve to feel good, and it might be time to start that journey.

#reddoor #alcohol #alcoholdependence #alcoholrecovery #alcholicsanonymous #thecabin #oneyearnobeer #alcoholexperiment #thenakedmind #theunexpectedjoyofbeingsober #alcoholliedtome #girlwalksoutofabar #almostalcoholic #nothinggoodcancomefromthis.












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