For many of us, drinking is something that is done on occasion and in moderation. Having a glass or two of champagne on New Year’s Eve or a cocktail with friends at dinner is nothing to be concerned about. Neither is a couple beers with the guys on Football Sunday or weekend nights out with our husbands or wives.

However, for others, alcohol is not something that one uses to mark a special occasion but rather makes it the main event.

There are a variety of factors that can influence a person’s behavior when it comes to drinking such as genetics, biology, and the environment. While the reasons one becomes addicted to alcohol can vary, what is consistent is a desire to keep drinking, despite negative and sometimes devastating consequences in their life.

Here are some of the most common excuses men make to keep drinking despite the writing on the wall that it’s becoming a problem.

I’ll lose my friends if I quit drinking

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Real friends stick with you no matter what choices you make.

Many people’s social life is based on partying and having a good time – which typically involves drinking alcohol. This is certainly true for younger folks who feel pressured to drink when they are around their friends. You may worry that “everyone will wonder what’s going on and why I’m not drinking.”

While friends and associates may take notice, it’s important to realize that real friends will want to spend time with you no matter what. Those that don’t, may have a drinking problem themselves and are uncomfortable around you making a healthy change.

Remember, anytime someone has a problem or is uncomfortable with you making a change in an attempt to better your life – they’re probably not worth keeping in your life.

But Wine Is Good For Me

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As with everything, moderation is key.

While numerous studies have suggested consuming alcohol, red wine in particular, can benefit the heart and improve cholesterol levels – all speak of consuming and moderate amounts. In fact, a majority of US health agencies recommend no more than two drinks a day for men, and only one for women.

So, while some studies suggest drinking in moderation is good for your health, the amount is what is most important. If you find you’re drinking more than one or two glasses each day, you’re no longer promoting health. You’re likely self medicating, and even potentially abusing, and possibly even working your way toward addiction.

Drinking relieves stress

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Having a drink after a stressful day is one thing, doing it all the time is something else entirely.

It’s no secret that stress wreaks havoc on our health. And no one can really blame a person for simply wanting to “take the edge off.“ But alcohol consumption is not the healthiest way to deal with stress. And yes, once in a while is no big deal. But when “once in a while” turns into weekly and multiple times per week and the one or two glasses  turns into three, four, or even more – you’re heading in a dangerous direction.

Stress and alcohol feed off each other. Regularly using alcohol to take the edge off often only leads to more problems that contribute to even more stress. Usually this looks like health problems, weight gain, money concerns, relationship problems, and often emotional distress like lack of motivation.

There are much healthier ways to alleviate stress such as meditation, exercise, working in the yard, and having regular meaningful conversations with your spouse, friends, or family. 

Quitting drinking can be incredibly difficult, but with the right support and mindset, it can be done.

Life is too short to spend it struggling to moderate on your own. If you find you’re struggling and wondering if you’re headed in the wrong direction, find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help you navigate your way toward the life you want with more healthy coping mechanisms.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.