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Are you relying too much on alcohol to have a good time?



Between Zoom happy hours and Quarantinis, many of us have been drinking more alcohol than we did before. According to DRINKAWARE, one quarter of Irish adults have been drinking more since the onset of Covid-19. Most of these people saying they are drinking to relax and unwind “as tensions have increased in almost half of households.”

Because of the collective anxiety many of us are experiencing as the result of Covid-19, and the widespread increase in drinking, we may not be aware of how much we are relying on alcohol. We might be experiencing anxiety or stress for a variety of reasons; maybe we are still adjusting to working from home while managing school aged children or adjusting to isolation living at home. Regardless of the reasons we are looking to relax, alcohol can have a soothing effect in the short term while increasing these difficulties long term.

Signs you might be relying too much on alcohol

To make sure your alcohol consumption is not sneaking up on you, there are a few things you can check in on to see if you might be relying too much on alcohol.

Regularly drinking more than intended

Sure, we have all had that time here or there where we drank more than we intended to. Maybe it was celebration or a night out. But ask yourself, how often does that happen? Maybe you have your drink during the Zoom happy hour with friends, but then you just keep on drinking on your own even after it’s ended despite telling yourself you wouldn’t? If you find that you often you drink more than intended, this could be a sign that you might be relying too much on alcohol.

Drinking alcohol alone AND hiding it

Given the current pandemic, we are supposed to be isolating ourselves from other people. So naturally, you are more likely to be on your own when consuming alcohol compared to before. So, it is not necessarily drinking on your own that is a problem, but more if you are drinking on your own and trying to conceal this drinking behaviour from others. Do you tell people you have stopped drinking during the week when you still have a drink most days? Typically, this tends be associated with feeling guilty or ashamed. Any time you are feeling ashamed of your drinking or you lie to others to hide these habits, it can be a sign that you might be starting to rely too much alcohol.


Perhaps you are counting down the hours to work being done for the day or the kids to go to bed so you can drink alcohol. If drinking is starting to affect various areas of your life it might be time to cut down.


Drinking to feel normal or relax

Any time you are drinking for the specific purpose of changing how you feel, this is called self-medicating. By definition, you are taking a substance to induce a different state. We all cope with stressors in different ways, some of which are healthier than others. This isn’t to say that the odd drink after a stressful day is a bad thing; however, if having a drink becomes the main way you unwind at the end of the day or to relax you may be relying too much on alcohol.

It is affecting work or home

If you find that because of your drinking, it is starting to affect your ability to manage responsibilities at home or work, this could be another sign that you may be relying too much alcohol. This might include things such as not delivering a presentation as well as you otherwise would have. Maybe you are starting to skip out on commitments in the morning due to being hungover. Perhaps you are counting down the hours to work being done for the day or the kids to go to bed so you can have your drink. If drinking is starting to affect various areas of your life it might be time to cut down.

Common Myths

There are a few myths that you might be telling yourself if you, or someone else, is starting to question the amount you are drinking.


I could stop drinking alcohol if I wanted to

You probably could stop drinking if you wanted to, but by adding the qualifier of “if I wanted to” this  implies that you don’t want to stop drinking. By telling ourselves we have the capability to stop engaging in a behaviour, this helps us to feel like we are in control of a situation where we might feel out of control. What is more important than evaluating whether or not you can stop, is the affect it might be having on your life day to day.

I don’t drink every day

When you drink does not define if someone has an alcohol problem, it’s the effects of drinking that define if it’s a problem. If you are starting to experience problems within your relationships, your home or work, then this is a sign you’re consuming too much.


If you’re trying to determine if you’re relying too much on alcohol, the main factor you’re looking for is if it’s starting to cause problems within your life. Sometimes it can be hard to tell as everyone’s drinking is going up. Sometimes it might feel normal as everyone is posting about their zoom parties and new cocktail recipes.

If you are starting to rely on alcohol more than other coping skills you used to use, try to see how you can re-engage with coping skills that will provide longer lasting relief and help you relax such as engaging in physical activity, socialising with others and re-engaging in hobbies. We offer treatment for drinking, which you can view HERE.

Written by Nicole Paulie. Nicole is a Counselling Psychologist and a fully chartered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) in addition to being a Licensed Professional Counsellor (LPC) in the United States

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