When are the times you most want a drink?

For me it was when I’d come home from a grueling day at work, an hour of Atlanta traffic, hungry from not having had time to each lunch, and walk in the house to find kids wanting me to take them places, go to the store for them, settle squabbles that arose over the day.

I’d put down my bag, change out of tights/bra/anything with a waistband and into yoga pants or pajamas, then open the fridge to see what I could make into a meal.

My friend wine would be there waiting. “Cooking wine” I called it because it went into me while I got dinner together.

I began to look forward to it before I walked through the door.

An urge is simply the desire to have something. Wanting. It’s a feeling. Notice that wanting something is different than liking something.

For me, this urge to drink started before I had any wine and continued as I drank.

One glass turned into two, and often the whole bottle was gone before I knew it. When I heard my kids say I was drinking all the time, though I knew that wasn’t actually true, I felt it was affecting my parenting and wanted to change.

If you look at exactly what’s happening during times you have an urge to drink, there’s useful information there. What is underlying the wanting at that time? What do you really need?

Often, we just want relief. To numb out from the day.

But there is more to it than just numbing out. Really consider what is going on at the times you want a drink most. You’ll find clues as to how to solve your wanting alcohol.

When I paid close attention and really thought about the times I most wanted a drink, I noticed I was not only stressed, but grumpy from not eating all day. Instead of pushing through with a glass of wine to raise my blood sugar, I realized bringing lunch was a better strategy to take care of myself during the day, and my family in the evening. Then I wasn’t so desperate when I walked in the door.

I stopped returning client calls on the way home and started listening to podcasts or my favorite playlist while driving home to make traffic more bearable and to relax a little.

If it was a very difficult day, I stopped at the post office near my home and took a few minutes in the parking lot to think about what went on that day, what I was feeling, and how I wanted to feel and interact with my family when I got home.

The next time you have an urge to drink, ask yourself what exactly your body is seeking that the alcohol seems to solve. Is it possible to meet that need in a different way? What options can you brainstorm?

Try coming up with three strategies of how to take care of yourself and meet your needs, without alcohol.

—Julie Ernst, CCJD

P.S. Visit www.julieernst.com to take my free course: Stop Overdrinking in 3 Steps.