Psychiatry & Psychology--General/How can I drink less on psychiatric medicine?
Hi Dr Borkosky,
I know you are not a psyCHIATRist, but since this question is about will power/decision-making rather than chemistry I thought I would ask you.
I have OCD and have been prescribed Prozac and Seroquel. Unfortunately, I have a problem: although I know that I am not supposed to drink while on psychoactive medicines, I've been doing so anyway because I usually have no problems after drinking small amounts. However, larger amounts over extended periods cause me to have bad mood swings and, yesterday, I had a very bad anxiety attack after drinking just one beer. Such a reaction is very unusual for me, but I've also been sleep-, exercise-, and sunlight-deprived over the past two weeks.
I spoke with my psychiatrist today, and she agreed that my drinking had been excessive (it had been as much as 2 and change drinks/day on average) and that I should not have more than 1-2 drinks per week at a maximum. Now, the challenge for me is actually sticking to this limit.
I tend not to do well with "arbitrary" limits (I set a number of drinks and then, once I've had my limit, I say"just one more won't kill me! Besides, there's no real reason for the limit"), and if I choose not to drink in a situation where I normally could, I feel that I am depriving myself of something and start to feel anxious (the same thing happens when I'm at a restaurant and see the dessert menu.) I think the OCD may be causing or aggravating the issue. Another problem is that I am going on a month-long trip to Europe in a week and I know that the temptation to overindulge in alcohol will be ever-present, especially since I am travelling with two other twentysomething guys :). But, of course, that would be the absolute worst time to have an anxiety attack.
Do you have any advice for me on how I can stick to the limit my psychiatrist gave me? I feel like I could do it easily if I could overcome the anxiety of "missing out" and/or substitute some other pleasurable activity for drinking.
P.S. I'm feeling better than yesterday but still somehwat moody/anxious. If you've had patients with similar problems, does abstaining from alcohol reaolve the moodiness in short order?
Hi, Mick, thanks for your question. Well, one of the most effective ways to stop a bad habit is via prevention. If you were to set up your life so that it is impossible (or very difficult) to drink, then it becomes much easier to stop. For example:
- remove alcohol from your house
- never go into a pub
- never drive near a bar
- avoid shops/stores that sell alcohol
- if you must shop in such a store (say grocery), shop at the times when sale of alcohol is prohibited (Sunday mornings), or take someone with you who will stop you from putting it in your cart.
If you never have alcohol in your hand, you can never drink it.
If you are thinking about drinking 'just one', then you are setting yourself up for failure. This is a weakness in the very design of human beings. Everyone, everywhere, at all times, in every situation, find it almost impossible to do 'just one'. So I would not even bother trying.
You should ask yourself which is more important, your mental health, or drinking?