Since coming out of lock-down, many of us have been examining both the drinking habits we developed in quarantine and how we’re doing with alcohol coming back into social situations. Most of us who’ve been going out again have either been or witnessed the too-drunk person at the party or on a plane (get a grip, America!). And if you were that person, you may want to check out our tips for non-alcohol socializing as well as the advice we solicited below from addiction expert and licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Leslie Carr.
“Alcohol is a big part of our culture and unfortunately, while it can be used to celebrate, it can also be used to numb feelings of grief, stress, and boredom,” Leslie explained. “The pandemic has created an intense situation where a lot of people have overused alcohol as a coping strategy, and now we all have to figure out how to re-enter society! People need people. Humans are intensely wired for social relationships, so as we begin to gather again in person we have a challenge and also an opportunity, which is figuring out how to enjoy the things that life has to offer that we’ve been deprived of for so long – physical touch, enjoying a meal with people, and having scintillating conversations that don’t require staring at a screen. It might be tempting to think that you’ve gathered with others in order to drink with them – but that’s a rookie move. In actuality, you’re gathering to do the things we haven’t been able to do for over a year. We’re gathering so that we can be together.”
That very sentiment is really what salons are all about, and we can’t very well delight and inspire each other if we’re schmammered now can we? But the personal and social anxiety so many of us are feeling is completely understandable, so how do we work with it? Leslie is a proponent of the 30-day sobriety reset, a tried and true way to both get ahold of ourselves and assess our level of dependency. It’s also an important time to get some perspective on our reasons for wanting to drink in various moments, which has a way of making us feel comfortable in our own skin again if we’ve been overdoing it for escapist reasons.
If you’re thinking it might be time to take a pause, Sober October is around the corner, so you’ll have plenty of company. “I’m a big believer in short spurts of forced abstinence, like say 30 days with no mind-altering substances.,” Leslie says. “During that period of time, it’s going to be vital to install some other coping mechanisms so I recommend meditation, journaling, and being creative about how you make social plans. Doing the same thing you always do (ie going to bars) is probably not going to set you up for success so it’s during these periods of time that you need to mix it up – go to flea markets on the weekends, or go roller skating even if that’s not the kind of thing you would ever normally do. Get creative.” Host a no booze salon perhaps?!
When asked if she has any advice for anyone struggling with alcohol who can’t seem to get out of a loop of overindulgence but feels like AA might be way too hardcore, she replied: “For a lot of people this is where the rubber kind of meets the road because, to be really frank, if someone is teetering on the edge of alcoholism this is going to be really, really hard – but it’s SUPER important to hit the reset button. Once drinking resumes after 30 days I highly recommend counting one’s drinks because a lot of people don’t and this is where problems creep in. Binge drinking is defined as 4 drinks or more in a 2-hour period for women, and 5 drinks or more in a 2-hour period for men. The reason why is because our bodies (liver, etc.) stop being able to process the alcohol after that point, so a major benefit of getting the reset is in being able to re-establish your tolerance.”
Many thanks to Leslie for talking to us, and for more super insightful conversations, check out her podcast here. And if you’re feeling like you might be in need of a full-blown lifestyle make-over, we highly recommend reading our resident health and wellness expert Jamie Klingler, who successfully reinvented herself during the pandemic, including sobering up and getting in terrific shape!