What are your excuses for getting drunk?
When reasons for a drink turn into excuses to get drunk. See if any sound familiar.
- "I've had a tough day"
- "I haven't got work tomorrow"
- "The sun is shining"
- "I'm out with my mates"
- "I need to get in the mood to socialise"
- "I've got friends coming round"
- "I've just been paid"
There are many reasons why people choose to drink to excess. Perhaps a less-than-perfect day at the office is the trigger for hitting the bar, or a special occasion is being celebrated. But where do the reasons stop and the excuses begin?
If you’re regularly drinking more than the government's daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine) it could be time to think about the reasons for it and what you can do to cut down. ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.
See if you recognise yourself often making any of these excuses:
"I've had a tough day"
Using alcohol to cope with stress is common. However, while the immediate effects of drinking can make you feel more relaxed, if you regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines, your stress levels could soar.
That’s because alcohol is a depressant and can interfere with the brain's function, causing low moods and anxiety. Even a few drinks can also interrupt your sleep pattern so you wake up feeling tired – which will only add to your stress levels the following day.
Instead of reaching for the bottle after a tough day at the office, why not take a trip to the gym? Exercise is one of the most effective ways to tackle stress and the ‘happy chemicals’, known as endorphins, it releases will help to boost your mood and confidence.
Read our content on alcohol and stress for more information.
“I haven’t got work tomorrow”
For some people, a drink or two after clocking off for the weekend or for a holiday marks the start of the fun and relaxation. But drink too much and you could easily spoil your precious time off with a nasty hangover.
Remember, alcohol can leave you feeling anxious and stressed. Drink too much and you could come back from your break in more need of time off than when you left!
If you do want to toast your time off, set yourself a sensible limit and drink plenty of soft drinks when you’re out – that way you get to stay sober and you're much more likely to wake up hangover-free and ready to get on with your day.
You can find tips for preventing a hangover here.
“The sun is shining”
So rare is a blazingly hot day of sunshine in the UK that it just has to be celebrated. If you do choose to drink alcohol in the sun, staying hydrated is vital. Alcohol dehydrates your body so you need to drink plenty of water and stay in the shade if you don’t want to risk getting sunburn, sunstroke or fainting. Legally, pubs in England and Wales now have to give you tap water for free. And a jug of water at a barbecue will help keep everyone properly hydrated and avoid any nasty incidents.
“I’m out with my mates”
A night out with your friends risks ending up as a heavy drinking session, especially if you are all buying rounds.
Rounds often force you to drink quicker because everyone is under pressure to knock back the booze at the same rate as the fastest drinker.
Having a soft drink for some rounds will keep you sharp. And while opting out of buying rounds may feel like going against the grain, your mates may thank you for it if they’re also feeling the pressure.
“I need to get in the mood to socialise”
Because of the way alcohol affects the brain, you might find yourself less inhibited and more confident after a couple of drinks. But alcohol can make you do or say things that you wouldn’t when you’re sober. What’s worse than waking up the next day to that that dreaded “What did I do/say last night?” feeling?
If you find social situations difficult without a drink, try having a night out somewhere with more on offer than just alcohol. Going to the cinema or to see a band means it’s likely there’ll be less pressure to drink than if you base your entire evening around the pub.
Read our alcohol free nights on the town feature for some fantastic ideas on socialising without alcohol.
“I’ve got friends coming round”
When you’re entertaining friends at home, it can be all too easy to drink more than usual.
When your wine glass is constantly being topped up or you’re pouring generous home measures, it’s difficult to know just how much you and everyone else is drinking, until it’s too late.
It’s good to have water and soft drinks available so your friends know that it’s not just alcohol on offer. Or you could try being more adventurous and make no- or low-alcohol cocktails.
“I’ve just been paid”
For many people, 5pm on pay day is the perfect time to go out with work mates and have a drink. But drinking right after work can be dangerous because it’s often the case that you and your work mates haven’t eaten since lunchtime. That means there’s nothing to slow down the absorption of alcohol, so you feel the effects of alcohol faster and increase your risk of doing or saying something you’ll regret the next morning.
Why not go to a restaurant rather than the pub? That way you can have something to eat and make sure that that the evening revolves around food rather than alcohol. You could even save money by looking out for a two-for-one or 50% off deal.
Read our tips on taking a more measured approach to after work socialising.
If reading these common excuses for over indulging are sounding familiar, why not use our unit calculator to work out how much you’re drinking in these situations and others.
Do you need to cut down?
The first step is to look honestly at how much you drink and how that compares to the government's daily unit guidelines.
Daily unit guidelines
You should not regularly exceed:
Find out how many units you are drinking
Compare your drinking to the government’s daily unit guidelines.Try our Unit Calculator
Page updated: April 2013
Did you know?
More than 1 in 10 deaths of people in their 40s are from liver disease, most are from alcoholic liver diseaseAlcohol and the liver
Calculate your calories
Find out how many calories are in your drinksTry our unit calculator