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Pubs are open! ...Now what?

After over a year of imposed restrictions, the country is slowly getting ready to unlock. We’ve all had different experiences of isolation and lockdown. Whilst the re-opening of the beer gardens is a welcome end to a year of sitting in our homes, it can also feel quite overwhelming.

Even though we’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, this return to some sort of normality can feel pretty weird. For some people, the return to the pub can also be quite difficult. Socialising with old friends in the pub often means drinking, and it can be difficult to know when you might need a break!

We have some more information about alcohol and drug use here if your experiences of drugs and alcohol are getting overwhelming or feel dangerous. It is important to remember that drinking is not a bad thing to do! Going out for a pint can be a really lovely way to re-engage with old friends, relaxing after a long day and just enjoying yourself. Drinking can become more difficult for some people if it is a daily activity, or they feel reliant on drinking to feel happy. It can also feel like a cycle that is hard to break, especially if those around you are also drinking a lot and drinking when socialising. In some cases, drinking quite a lot can come with other challenges. For some individuals, drinking may encourage smoking, make anxiety worse and cause money troubles.

 

What helps / what others have said helped

If your drinking habits feel a little overwhelming after lockdown, it may be that you want to take some time out of it. This can be hard at the moment, with most socialising happening in pubs and around alcohol. Here are some ideas for how to get around this issue:

  • Start waking up earlier. Whilst this will not be possible or suitable for everyone, it can help to shift your daily clock so that you organise more socialising in the daytime. Whilst this may be challenging with some jobs, organising to meet in the morning means that your chat with a friend is less likely to turn to drinks.
  • Talk to your friends about some activities that they haven’t done in a while. Sometimes we can forget what we love to do when the pub is such an obvious choice for evening plans. Chat to your friends about the possibility of going on a hike, or having a picnic, or gardening together.
  • Look into local community groups that you could get involved with. If you want to meet new people or socialise with old friends, getting involved in your local community can be a nice way to spend time together without drinking.
  • Organise activities that you like to do in the evening time, by yourself or with others. If you are feeling like you are struggling with drinking and want to take a break, booking in some swimming sessions in the evening, or buying ingredients for a big meal you’ve wanted to make for a while could give you a couple of nights off and make sure that you break the cycle.
  • Speak to your friends about your feelings and experiences. They might be feeling the same way! This could mean that you could start organising to go for coffees in the daytime, or find alternatives together whilst still staying close.

 

Where to go for more support

If you feel like you need more support with your relationship with alcohol, there are a few different routes you can take.

  • You could speak to your GP. They will be able to direct you to some tailored support if you feel like you would like to talk through your experiences and figure out a way to change your habits.
  • There are lots of books on sobriety that might help you learn more and decide if it is a route you would like to take.
    • The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley,
    • The Sober Girl Society Handbook: An Empowering Guide to Living Hangover Free by Millie Gooch,
    • Quit Like a Woman, by Holly Whitaker
  • Mind has a Crisis Line which is available on messenger 24/7. Found out more about this service and how it could support you here.
  • Frank also has a lot of information on their website, including some blog posts on how to manage your relationship with alcohol safely after the lockdown that can be found here.
  • If you are worried about someone else in your life, Alateen offers support for 12-17-year-olds who can share their experiences of caring for someone with alcoholism. They also have a hotline at 0800 0086 811.

By: Iona Taylor

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