Beating Holiday Cravings / Résister aux tentations pendant les fêtes

Planning for the Holidays / Planifier les fêtes de fin d’année

Pour la version en français, voir plus bas.

When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, many combat the gloom with Christmas lights, holiday baking, and festive lattés. The calendar fills up. But despite the excitement, the holidays can come with a lot of pressures and expectations. It’s easy to feel grief over lost loved ones, a sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be, or feelings of comparison to friends with good circumstances.

When everyone around you seems joyous, it’s hard to admit that you feel lonely, low, or out of place. The focus on family and relationships during the season can create a lot of pressure. And maybe once the days shorten and it becomes harder to convince yourself to go out for a walk, which impacts your mood and puts a grey lens over all of the festive spark.

Interested to read more about how to cope during the holiday season, read more here. 

As families change and children develop traditions separate from their parents, it can cause painful feelings.

Whether it’s a Naughty but Nice Christmas Cocktail, mulled wine, eggnog, or a peppermint espresso martini, alcohol tends to go hand-in-hand with the holidays. If you’re feeling triggered around the season and by memories, get-togethers, or expectations, your cravings might become more intense. Since alcohol can be an automatic pairing for many at this time of year, you might have to work harder to change your pattern and disrupt the association. So what are some things you can do to stay on track with your goals over the holiday season?

Cravings are normal. The urge to drink is no different than the challenge someone faces when they’re trying to stay on track with their weight-loss app and are tempted by the shortbread tray. Whether your soft spot is beer or the cheese board, planning, visualization, and accountability are a good place to start.

  1. Write down your plan:

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by strong emotions or anxiety, and it makes it harder to clearly articulate what part of a situation or relationship makes you more vulnerable to cravings. Writing helps because when your thoughts are down on paper, they’re concrete. You can assess them, challenge the logic, and often it is easier to identify the root of the problem.

2. Set boundaries:

It’s ok to protect yourself from triggers, even if it means going against the crowd or saying no. You can adjust plans to reduce stimulus, shorten your window of activity, or to make it easier to achieve your change goals.

3. Get enough light:

Try to time your walks for mid-day. Take a lunch break, a walking meeting, or a thinking break. Get some Vitamin D and enjoy the day while it’s bright outside! Even as the weather gets colder, try to stay active outdoors. You might integrate a walk with a friend after work once a week. Try to keep your blinds open, as well, to let the light in. It can help your sleep-wake schedule to wake with the morning light.

4. Step outside:

There’s a time in almost every family gathering where things feel a bit tense. The holidays can make you feel trapped, and a good strategy is to step outside. Not only will the fresh air clear your mind, but movement will help you relax and change your mindset. It could be a few deep breaths on the porch to cool your body temperature, or you can offer to take the family pet out for a walk around the block. If you can tap into your breathing and take deeper, slower breaths or even tune into a short walking meditation, it can help you re-set.

5. Plan time before or after the holidays when triggers are less activating:

All of your social interactions don’t have to happen in one month! You can explain to friends that the holidays are more challenging for you and arrange something more intimate in the New Year. It can feel less daunting to see a friend one-on-one for a walk with a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Pace yourself, and remember there is no one way to approach the holiday season. Additionally, talking to your friends about how you feel can normalize challenging emotions. You might find one or two of your friends have similar feelings or that their sensitivity and awareness of your experience increases after an open conversation.

6. Sleep, eat, exercise – repeat:

When we get out of our routine, the first thing to slip is our eating and sleeping schedule. The holidays are a time when exercise tends to go by the wayside too! But those are the things that stabilize our mood, energy and help us maintain a balanced outlook in a more triggering time. Naturally, parts of your schedule might change. You may be staying up later and sleeping in, and that will throw off your meal times but try to set the alarm clock for 7-8 hours from the time you go to bed and eat regular meals during the daytime. The holidays may disrupt your regular workout routine, but a brisk walk or virtual yoga while the turkey cooks goes a long way!

7. Try one of these alcohol alternatives:

If a part of your plan is to make a mocktail for a family dinner or bring one for friends, here are a couple of great mocktail suggestions for those long winter evenings. 

Christmas Punch:

Serves: 10

Step 1: Place cranberries and club soda into an ice tray and set aside to freeze

Step 2: Mix pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, and club soda

Step 3: Add in lemon juice, fresh from the lemon if you like and simple syrup

Step 4: Mix together and add your ice cubes. Enjoy!

Cherry Bombs

Serves: 6 (adults and kids alike)

Step 1: Place two cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to high heat. Add grenadine and stir to combine. Pour mixture into two ice-cube trays. Freeze until solid.

Step 2: Fill six glasses with grenadine ice cubes. Add soda and garnish with maraschino cherries. Serve!

Mulled Cranberry Mocktail

Serves: 1 quart

Directions:

Step 1: In a medium saucepan, combine the juice, cinnamon stick, and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer.

Step 2: In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of water and heat over medium-low heat gently stirring, until the cranberries pop and are well coated with the sugar mixture.

Step 3: When cool, thread three or four berries onto toothpicks and pour the mulled cranberry juice into four mugs.

Chocolate Martini Mocktail

Serves: 2 servings

Directions: 

Step 1: Combine the milk, ¼ cup chocolate syrup, corn syrup, and crushed ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Step 2: On two small plates, pour chocolate syrup and chocolate sprinkles. Dip the rim of each glass on both plates.

Step 3: Fill the glass with chocolate milk mixture. Enjoy!

Mock Apple Cider Sour

Serves: 1 drink

Step 1: Add the sugar cube, lemon juice, apple cider and seltzer to a 6-8 ounce old fashion glass.

Step 2: Stir to dissolve the sugar

Step 3: Add the ice cube and apple chip

Step 4: Add the orange peel to the rim of the glass. Serve and enjoy!

Drinks courtesy of Martha Stewart and Food Network.

It might seem simple but planning is a powerful evidence-based strategy that can help you manage your cravings and reach your goals around reduced substance use. The great thing about planning is that it’s in your control. You can deconstruct your triggers and the challenging emotional aspects of holiday parties, family gatherings, or gift-giving rituals and make changes to support your mental health and wellbeing. Try one or two of these strategies this season. Get some sunshine, step outside, or do an online kickboxing class. And remember, the holidays may seem inflexible but any tradition can be tweaked if it means protecting your wellbeing.

Happy Holidays and make sure to connect with us if you need some support. 

Looking for more strategies to manage during the holidays? Read more here.

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.

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Version en français.

Planifier les fêtes de fin d’année

Lorsque les jours raccourcissent et que la température baisse, nombreux sont ceux qui combattent la morosité avec des lumières de Noël, des pâtisseries et des chocolats chauds festifs. Le calendrier se remplit. Mais malgré l’excitation, les fêtes peuvent s’accompagner de beaucoup de pressions et d’attentes. Il est courant d’éprouver du chagrin pour les êtres chers disparus, un sentiment de nostalgie pour la façon dont les choses étaient autrefois, ou un sentiment de comparaison avec des amis ayant une bonne situation.

Lorsque tout le monde autour de toi semble joyeux, il est difficile d’admettre que tu te sens seul, faible ou pas dans ton assiette. L’importance que l’on donne à la famille et aux autres relations humaines pendant cette période peut créer beaucoup de pression. Et peut-être qu’une fois que les jours raccourcissent, il devient plus difficile de se convaincre de sortir faire une promenade, ce qui a un impact sur ton humeur et met un filtre négatif sur toute l’étincelle festive.

Intéressé à en lire davantage sur comment gérer les défis du temps des fêtes? Consulte cet article.

Les familles évoluent et les enfants développent des traditions distinctes de celles de leurs parents, ce qui peut provoquer des sentiments douloureux. 

Qu’il s’agisse du cocktail de Noël “Vilain mais sympa”, de vin chaud, de lait de poule ou d’un martini expresso à la menthe, l’alcool tend à aller de pair avec les fêtes. Si tu sens que tes envies compulsives sont déclenchées par la période des fêtes, par des souvenirs, des réunions ou des attentes, elles peuvent devenir très intenses. Cette période de l’année est associée automatiquement à l’alcool par beaucoup de personnes, il est donc possible que tu doives faire plus d’efforts pour changer tes habitudes et rompre cette association. Quelles sont donc les mesures à prendre pour ne pas perdre le fil de tes objectifs pendant la période des fêtes?

L’envie de boire est normale. Cette très forte envie n’est pas différente du défi que doit relever une personne qui essaie de suivre son programme de perte de poids et qui est tentée par le plateau de sablés. Que tu ais un faible pour la bière ou le plateau de fromage, la planification, la visualisation et la responsabilisation sont un bon point de départ.

  1. Écris ton plan sur une feuille de papier

Il est courant de se laisser submerger par des émotions fortes ou de l’anxiété, et il est alors plus difficile d’exprimer clairement quelle partie d’une situation ou d’une relation te rend plus vulnérable à des envies compulsives. L’écriture est utile car lorsque tes pensées sont rédigées sur papier, elles sont concrètes. Tu peux les évaluer, remettre en question leur logique et il est souvent plus facile d’identifier la racine du problème.

2. Fixe des limites :

Il n’y a pas de mal à se protéger des déclencheurs d’envies compulsives, même si cela signifie aller à contre-courant ou dire non. Tu peux adapter tes plans pour réduire les stimuli, raccourcir ta durée de consommation ou faciliter l’atteinte de tes objectifs de changement.

3. Expose-toi suffisamment à la lumière :

Essaye de planifier tes promenades en milieu de journée. Prends une pause déjeuner, fais une réunion à pied ou une pause dehors pour réfléchir. Prends de la vitamine D et profite de la journée tant qu’il fait clair dehors! Même si le temps se refroidit, essaye de rester actif à l’extérieur. Une fois par semaine, après le travail, tu pourrais prendre l’habitude de faire une promenade avec un ami. Essaye également de garder tes stores ouverts pour laisser entrer la lumière. Le fait de se réveiller avec la lumière du matin peut améliorer ton rythme de sommeil et ton éveil.

4. Sors dehors :

Dans presque toutes les réunions de famille, il y a un moment où les choses sont un peu tendues. Pendant la période des fêtes, il est possible qu’à un moment donné tu aies l’impression d’être piégé, et une bonne stratégie consiste à sortir. Non seulement l’air frais t’éclaircira l’esprit, mais le fait d’être en mouvement t’aidera à te détendre et à changer ton état d’esprit. Tu peux prendre quelques respirations profondes sous le porche pour rafraîchir ta température corporelle, ou tu peux proposer de sortir l’animal de compagnie de la famille pour faire le tour du quartier. Si tu peux te concentrer sur ta respiration et prendre des respirations plus profondes et plus lentes ou même faire une courte marche de méditation, cela peut t’aider à te remettre en place.

5. Prévois du temps avant ou après la période des fêtes, lorsque les déclencheurs sont moins forts :

Il n’est pas nécessaire que toutes tes interactions sociales aient lieu pendant un seul mois! Tu peux expliquer à tes amis que les fêtes sont un peu compliquées pour toi et organiser quelque chose de plus intime au début de l’année. Il peut être moins intimidant de voir un ami en tête-à-tête pour une promenade avec une tasse de thé ou de chocolat chaud. Va à ton rythme et n’oublie pas qu’il n’y a pas qu’une seule façon d’aborder les fêtes de fin d’année. De plus, le fait de parler à tes amis de ce que tu ressens peut aider ton esprit à normaliser tes émotions difficiles. Tu découvriras peut-être qu’un ou deux de tes amis ont des sentiments similaires aux tiens ou que leur sensibilité, leur conscience et leur compréhension de ton expérience augmenteront après une conversation ouverte.

6. Dormir, manger, faire de l’exercice – répéter :

Lorsque nous sortons de notre routine, la première chose qui peut changer sont nos horaires de repas et de sommeil. Les fêtes de fin d’année sont une période où l’exercice physique a tendance à être laissé de côté aussi! Pourtant, ce sont ces éléments qui stabilisent notre humeur et notre énergie et nous aident à garder une attitude équilibrée dans une période plus délicate. Naturellement, certains aspects de ton emploi du temps peuvent changer. Il se peut que tu te couches plus tard et que tu fasses la grasse matinée, ce qui perturbera l’heure de tes repas, mais essaye de régler ton réveil 7-8 heures après l’heure à laquelle tu te couches et de prendre des repas réguliers pendant la journée. Les fêtes peuvent perturber ta routine d’entraînement habituelle, mais une marche rapide ou du yoga virtuel pendant que la dinde cuit font beaucoup de bien!

7. Essaye l’une de ces alternatives à l’alcool :

Si tu as l’intention de préparer un mocktail pour un dîner en famille ou d’en apporter un chez des amis, voici quelques suggestions de mocktails pour les longues soirées d’hiver.

Le Punch de Noël :

Quantité : 10 verres

Étape 1 : Mets les canneberges et du club soda dans un bac à glaçons puis place le tout dans le congélateur.

Étape 2 : Mélange le jus de grenade, le jus de canneberge et du club soda.

Étape 3 : Ajoute le jus de citron, directement depuis le citron tu le souhaite et le sirop simple.

Étape 4 : Mélange le tout et ajoute les glaçons que tu as préparés. C’est prêt!

Le Bombe Cerise

Quantité : 6 verres (convient aux adultes et aux enfants)

Étape 1 : Verse deux tasses d’eau dans une casserole moyenne et porte-là à haute température. Ajoute la grenadine et remue pour combiner le tout. Verse le mélange dans deux bacs à glaçons. Mets-les au congélateur jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient solides.

Étape 2 : Rempli six verres avec les glaçons à la grenadine. Ajoute le soda et les cerises au marasquin. Bonne dégustation!

Cocktail chaud à la canneberge

Quantité : 1 litre

Préparation :

Étape 1 : Dans une casserole moyenne, mélange le jus, le bâton de cannelle et les clous de girofle et porte à ébullition. Réduis ensuite le feu et laisse mijoter.

Étape 2 : Dans une petite casserole, combine les canneberges, le sucre, la cannelle moulue, 2 cuillères à soupe d’eau et chauffe à feu moyen-doux en remuant doucement, jusqu’à ce que les canneberges éclatent et soient bien enrobées du mélange de sucre.

Étape 3 : Une fois refroidies, place trois ou quatre canneberges sur des cure-dents et verse le jus de canneberges chaud dans quatre tasses.

Mocktail de Martini au chocolat

Quantité : 2 portions

Préparation :

Étape 1 : Mélange le lait, ¼ de tasse de sirop de chocolat, le sirop de maïs et la glace pilée dans un mélangeur et mélange jusqu’à ce que le mélange soit onctueux et lisse.

Étape 2 : Sur deux petites assiettes, verse le sirop de chocolat et les paillettes de chocolat. Trempe le rebord de chaque verre sur les deux assiettes.

Étape 3 : Rempli le verre du mélange de lait au chocolat. C’est l’heure de savourer!

Mocktail au cidre

Quantité : 1 boisson

Étape 1 : Mélange le morceau de sucre, le jus de citron, le cidre de pomme et l’eau de seltz dans un verre à cocktail de 6 à 8 onces.

Étape 2 : Remue pour dissoudre le sucre.

Étape 3 : Ajoute le glaçon et le morceau de pomme.

Étape 4 : Ajoute l’épluchure d’orange sur le rebord du verre. C’est prêt!

Recettes tirées des sites de Martha Stewart et “Food Network.

Cela peut sembler trop simple, mais la planification est une stratégie puissante fondée sur des preuves qui peut t’aider à gérer tes envies compulsives et à atteindre tes objectifs de réduction de consommation de substances. L’avantage de la planification, c’est que tu en as le contrôle total. Tu peux déconstruire tes déclencheurs et les aspects émotionnels difficiles des fêtes de fin d’année, des réunions de famille ou des rituels d’échange de cadeaux et apporter des changements pour favoriser ta santé mentale et ton bien-être. Essaye une ou deux de ces stratégies cette année. Prends le soleil, sors dehors ou suis un cours de kickboxing en ligne. Et n’oublie pas que les fêtes de fin d’année peuvent sembler inflexibles, mais que toute tradition peut être modifiée si cela permet de protéger ton bien-être.

Joyeuses fêtes et n’hésite pas à nous contacter si tu as besoin de soutien.

Intéressé par d’autres stratégies pour gérer les rassemblements familiaux pendant les fêtes? Lire davantage ici.

Accéder à l’application SENTiER d’ALAViDA
Virtual Care / Soins Virtuels

“In-person appointments are more effective.”

“Seeing my therapist or doctor online won’t give me the same support.”

“I might as well hold off on appointments until I can see my therapist face-to-face again.”

Many individuals have been skeptical about having virtual appointments as they are under the impression that they are not receiving the same care or that emotions might not be portrayed accurately. 

The aim of virtual care is to maximize the efficacy and quality of patient care. Virtual care is not a new concept but across the globe, people have unequal access. Canada is behind many other nations when it comes to this effective and accessible form of care. It’s a concept which has been put to practice around the world and the U.S. is cutting edge when it comes to virtual healthcare. The Kaiser Permanente system cares for 12 million health plan members and reports from 2017 highlight that about one half of all connections between patients and the healthcare team were virtual. 

Of the 85.5 million virtual contacts: 

But in Canada, the growth of telehealth and virtual care is slower moving. While COVID-19 has accelerated the emphasis on virtual care as a part of Canadian healthcare, the integration of virtual practices lag. 

Despite the delay to integrate virtual care, Canada was a pioneer in this clinical practice. Dr. Maxwell House of Memorial University of Newfoundland used telehealth to reach patients in remote sites throughout the province in the 1970’s. Canadians have placed increased emphasis on developing education and infrastructure to support virtual care, as The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there will be a global shortage of 18 million health workers by 2030. One strategy to circumvent this deficit is digital health. A survey of 27 countries found that although 10% of individuals polled had used virtual care, 44% had an interest in trying it. Virtual care has the potential to change the burden of chronic illnesses, according to WHO, 80% of which can be eliminated with early prevention. 

The biggest benefit of virtual care is that it removes barriers to access including common road blocks such as accessibility, affordability, geographical distance, travel burden, and out of pocket expenses. For people who live in rural areas or wish to consult with specialists at a distance, it offers unique opportunities for more specialized care. When it comes to substance use and mental health, virtual care enables the patient to seek support without the stigma of leaving work and taking big chunks of time out of their schedule which leave them feeling vulnerable to judgment from management. Virtual healthcare may be more challenging for the elderly or those with less experience when it comes to technology and this is an important consideration. 

Only 1 in 10 companies have adopted virtual care technologies into their benefits plans. In contrast, 71% of employees state that they would access virtual care if it was available. Virtual care can change the workplace. It increases productivity and wellbeing and prevents costly downstream events through a prevention and early intervention model that bypasses the delay to treatment. 

So how can you get ready for your virtual care appointment:

Virtual care gives you the opportunity to stay on top of your health and connect with specialists from anywhere. Prevention can make the difference in your substance use and connecting with ALAViDA is a great place to start.

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.

Soins Virtuels

“Les rendez-vous en personne sont plus efficaces.”

“Voir mon thérapeute ou mon médecin en ligne ne m’apportera pas le même soutien.”

“Je pourrais aussi attendre jusqu’à ce que je puisse à nouveau voir mon thérapeute en personne pour prendre un rendez-vous.”

De nombreuses personnes se sont montrées sceptiques à l’idée d’avoir des rendez-vous virtuels, car elles ont l’impression de ne pas recevoir la même qualité de soins ou que leurs émotions ou celles de leur interlocuteur, pourraient ne pas être transmises aussi fidèlement. Chez ALAViDA, nous fonctionnons de manière virtuelle depuis cinq ans et nous avons réussi à établir des liens avec nos clients.

L’objectif des soins virtuels est de maximiser l’efficacité et la qualité des soins aux patients. Les soins virtuels ne sont pas un concept nouveau, mais dans le monde entier, les gens n’y ont pas tous le même accès. Le Canada est en retard sur de nombreux autres pays en ce qui concerne cette forme de soins efficace et accessible. C’est un concept qui a été mis en pratique dans le monde entier et les États-Unis sont à la pointe en matière de soins de santé virtuels. Le système Kaiser Permanente s’occupe de 12 millions de membres de régimes de santé et des rapports de 2017 soulignent qu’environ la moitié de toutes les relations entre les patients et l’équipe de soins de santé étaient virtuelles.

Sur les 85,5 millions de contacts virtuels:

Mais au Canada, la croissance de la télésanté et des soins virtuels est plus lente. Même si le COVID-19 a augmenté l’importance accordée aux soins virtuels dans le système des soins de santé canadiens, l’intégration des pratiques virtuelles est lente.

Malgré le retard pris pour intégrer les soins virtuels, le Canada a été un pionnier dans cette pratique clinique. Dans les années 1970, le Dr Maxwell House, de l’Université Memorial de Terre-Neuve, a utilisé la télésanté pour entrer en contact avec les patients des sites éloignés de la province. Les Canadiens ont mis l’accent sur le développement de l’éducation et des infrastructures pour soutenir les soins virtuels, car l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) a déclaré qu’il y aura une pénurie mondiale de 18 millions de travailleurs de la santé d’ici 2030. L’une des stratégies pour contourner ce déficit est la santé numérique. Une enquête menée dans 27 pays a révélé que, même si 10 % des personnes interrogées avaient déjà eu recours aux soins virtuels, 44 % d’entre elles souhaitaient les essayer. Selon l’OMS, les soins virtuels ont le potentiel de freiner le problème des maladies chroniques, dont 80 % peuvent être éliminées grâce à une prévention précoce.

Le plus grand avantage des soins virtuels est qu’ils éliminent les obstacles à l’accès, y compris les obstacles courants tels que l’accessibilité, le coût, la distance géographique, les déplacements et les dépenses personnelles. Pour les personnes qui vivent dans des zones rurales ou qui souhaitent consulter des spécialistes à distance, ils offrent des possibilités uniques de soins plus spécialisés. En ce qui concerne la toxicomanie et la santé mentale, les soins virtuels permettent au patient de chercher de l’aide sans être obligé de quitter son travail et de prendre beaucoup de temps sur ses horaires de travail, ce qui le rend vulnérable au jugement de la direction. Les soins de santé virtuels peuvent être plus difficiles à mettre en œuvre pour les personnes âgées ou celles qui ont moins d’expérience en matière de technologie, ce qui est une considération importante.

Seule une entreprise sur dix a adopté les technologies de soins virtuels dans ses plans d’avantages sociaux. En revanche, 71 % des employés déclarent qu’ils utiliseraient des soins virtuels s’ils étaient disponibles. Les soins virtuels peuvent transformer un espace de travail. Ils augmentent la productivité et le bien-être et évitent les événements coûteux en aval grâce à un modèle de prévention et d’intervention précoce qui permet d’éviter les délais avant le début d’un traitement médical.

Comment te préparer pour ton rendez-vous de soins virtuels:

Les soins virtuels t’offrent une opportunité pour rester en meilleure santé en te permettant d’entrer en contact avec des spécialistes, où que tu sois. La prévention peut faire une grande différence sur ta consommation d’alcool et de drogues et entrer en contact avec ALAViDA est un excellent point de départ.

Accéder à l’application SENTiER d’ALAViDA

Metabolizing Alcohol / Métabolisation de l’alcool

How is Alcohol Absorbed in the Body? / Comment l’alcool est absorbé par le corps

The feeling of having a drink is familiar: warm belly, light head, calm nerves, and relaxed muscles. Your past sensations while drinking give you a sense of how long the drink has been in your bloodstream and how long it will remain. You can likely discern how long you should wait before driving and what time you’re likely to fall asleep. You know roughly how many drinks it takes before it’s harder to walk in a straight line or to put together a coherent sentence. But what about the science of how alcohol is metabolized in the body? 

Alcohol is classified as a depressant; it is referred to in this way because it depresses the nervous system. This mechanism of action leads to slurred speech, wobbly movements, altered perceptions, and changes in the ability to think, judge and react. Alcohol directly affects the front part of the brain – the cerebral cortex – inhibiting our ability to use judgment, as well as the hippocampus where memories are formed. That is why you might forget parts of the evening when you engage in heavy drinking. Additionally, alcohol affects the amygdala which is responsible for social behaviour, the cerebellum which is in charge of balance and coordination, and the hypothalamus which keeps appetite, temperature, pain and emotions in balance. 

Alcohol has a short stay in the body. Once it enters your bloodstream, your body metabolizes alcohol at a rate of 20mg per deciliter (mg/dL). To put that into perspective, if your blood alcohol level was 40mg/dL, it would take two hours to metabolize the alcohol consumed. The rate at which alcohol is felt or metabolized depends upon individual factors. This comes down to blood alcohol concentration or (BAC), which is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood in relation to the amount of water in your blood. Some of the factors that impact your BAC and how you respond to drinking alcohol are:

What happens when alcohol enters the body?

Alcohol first travels to the digestive system. Unlike food, 20% of alcohol from a drink goes to the blood vessels, meaning that it is carried to your brain. The remaining 80% goes to your small intestine and into your bloodstream. The last step is that alcohol is taken out of the body through the liver and any deficit in your liver may slow this process down. 

Another key factor in determining how long it will take to metabolize alcohol is to know how much alcohol is in your drink. Generally, it takes one hour for one serving of alcohol to be metabolized, which is the equivalent of 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1.5 oz of liquor. 

 

How can you reduce the effects of alcohol?

It’s important to take into account all of the factors that affect your body’s absorption of alcohol. Safety and moderation are the best approach.

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.

Comment l’alcool est absorbé par le corps

La sensation ressentie lorsque l’on boit un verre est bien connue : le ventre chaud, la tête légère, les nerfs calmes et les muscles détendus. Les sensations que tu éprouves en buvant te donnent une idée du temps que la boisson a passé dans ton sang et du temps qu’elle y restera. Tu peux probablement discerner combien de temps tu dois attendre avant de conduire et à quelle heure tu risques de t’endormir. Tu sais à peu près combien de verres il faut boire avant d’avoir du mal à marcher en ligne droite ou à formuler une phrase cohérente. Mais quels sont les éléments scientifiques sur la métabolisation de l’alcool dans l’organisme?

L’alcool est classé parmi les dépresseurs ; on le désigne ainsi car il déprime le système nerveux. Ce mécanisme d’action entraîne des troubles de l’élocution, des mouvements hésitants, une altération des perceptions et des changements dans la capacité de penser, de juger et de réagir. L’alcool affecte directement la partie avant du cerveau – le cortex cérébral – inhibant notre capacité de jugement, ainsi que l’hippocampe où se forment les souvenirs. C’est pourquoi tu risques d’oublier certaines parties de la soirée lorsque tu bois beaucoup. En outre, l’alcool affecte l’amygdale, responsable du comportement social, le cervelet, responsable de l’équilibre et de la coordination, et l’hypothalamus, qui maintient l’équilibre de l’appétit, la température, la douleur et les émotions.

L’alcool reste peu de temps dans l’organisme. Une fois qu’il a pénétré dans la circulation sanguine, ton organisme métabolise l’alcool à raison de 20 mg par décilitre (mg/dL). Pour mettre cela en perspective, si ton taux d’alcoolémie était de 40 mg/dL, il te faudrait deux heures pour métaboliser l’alcool consommé. La vitesse à laquelle l’alcool est ressenti ou métabolisé dépend de facteurs individuels. Cela nous amène à l’alcoolémie, qui est une mesure de la quantité d’alcool dans ton sang par rapport à la quantité d’eau dans ton sang. Voici quelques-uns des facteurs qui influencent ton taux d’alcoolémie et ta réaction à la consommation d’alcool:

Que se passe-t-il lorsque l’alcool pénètre dans le corps?

L’alcool passe d’abord par le système digestif. Contrairement aux aliments, 20 % de l’alcool contenu dans une boisson passe dans les vaisseaux sanguins, ce qui signifie qu’il est transporté jusqu’au cerveau. Les 80 % restants vont dans l’intestin grêle et dans la circulation sanguine. Ensuite la dernière étape est que l’alcool est éliminé de l’organisme par le foie, sachant que tout déficit dans ton foie peut ralentir ce processus.

Un autre facteur clé pour déterminer le temps nécessaire pour métaboliser de l’alcool est de connaître la quantité d’alcool contenue dans ta boisson.

Type de boisson alcoolisée Temps moyen pour métaboliser
Quelques verres Plusieurs heures
Un grand verre de vin 3 heures
Une pinte de bière 2 heures
Petit verre de liqueur 1 heure

Comment réduire les effets de l’alcool?

Il est important de prendre en compte tous les facteurs qui ont un impact sur l’absorption de l’alcool par ton corps. La sécurité et la modération sont de bons concepts pour appréhender les choses.

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Alcohol-Related Cancer Risk / Risque de cancer lié à l’alcool

The Connection Between Alcohol and Cancer / Le lien entre l’alcool et le cancer

Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians is expected to develop cancer in their lifetime and the effects can be devastating. If you’ve watched a family member battle cancer, maybe you’ve wondered about whether you share their genetic predisposition. This fear can lead you to examine whether external factors like diet, exercise, and environment might play a role in your chance of developing cancer. But how often do you think about alcohol consumption in relation to cancer? Science shows that alcohol can be a contributing factor in the development of certain kinds of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, and breast. If you haven’t thought about the connection between alcohol and cancer before, you’re not alone; 7 out of 10 North Americans are unaware of this link because alcohol is so intertwined in our social lives that we don’t think twice about it. 

Alcohol is a part of our culture. It’s ingrained in the way we connect and it helps us to feel comfortable and confident in social interactions. Many people don’t realize the long-term effects of alcohol and often the short term gain is not worth the health risks. Instead, we might take a reactive approach to our problems, including our health, but with a proactive approach, you can prevent alcohol-related cancers. To drive this home, another perspective you can consider is your dental health. While it can be a pain to brush and floss regularly, or to visit the dentist several times a year, it pays off in comparison to having to get a cavity filled. Checking in with your substance use can be similar to flossing your teeth, you may want to floss twice a day, or you may want to do so several times a week but your preventative and mindful approach will pay off in the long run. 

So what are the stats on alcohol and cancer?

The more you drink, the greater the likelihood that you will develop cancer and the more serious the cancer will be. Those who drink two to three drinks or more per day are most at risk. Even if you don’t drink much, say, a few drinks a week, your risks are higher than for non-drinkers. Alcohol increases your risk to develop cancer in seven parts of your body and the most common type of cancer that alcohol causes is called squamous cell carcinoma, it lives in the lining of your esophagus. Colon and rectum cancer is also common and people who engage in heavy drinking have a 44% higher probability of getting colon or rectal cancer than those who choose not to drink. The risk of getting breast cancer is also increased in proportion with the amount of alcohol consumed weekly. 

So why is alcohol harmful? 

  1. DNA mutation: Alcohol has inflammatory properties and particularly, it has this effect on your organs and tissues. In defense, your body responds by trying to repair itself and this can lead to mistakes in your DNA which cause cancerous cells to grow. 
  2. Hormones: In women, alcohol can increase estrogen levels, which is a risk factor that can lead to the growth of cancer cells. 
  3. Toxic Chemicals: When your body processes the ethanol in alcohol, it makes a compound. Researchers believe that this compound causes cancer. 
  4. Nutrients: Alcohol compromises your immune system and it makes it more challenging for your body to absorb key vitamins which pose a cancer risk. These vitamins include B vitamins and folate, among others. 
  5. Weight Gain: Alcohol has sugars and carbohydrates that can lead you to put on weight and being overweight is a risk for developing cancer. 

As evidence and research continues to develop when it comes to alcohol and its role as a risk factor for cancer, one thing is for sure: the less alcohol you drink, the less risk you have of alcohol-related cancer. Studies have confirmed that the most serious risks come from drinking four or more drinks per day. It’s important to remember that many of us drink more than a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. So, it’s possible that you’re drinking outside of the limits that you set for yourself. Change doesn’t need to happen all at once but becoming mindful of the impact that alcohol can have on your body is an integral step to taking charge of your health. When it comes to cancer and alcohol, knowledge is power. 

It’s so easy to lose sight of what counts as one drink. Canada’s low risk guideline simplify the process of defining your limits. 

A drink means: 

Taking care of your limits reduces your long-term health risks. For women that means:

For men, the limits are:

It is useful to:

Sometimes zero is the limit: 

Safe drinking tips: 

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Le lien entre l’alcool et le cancer

Près d’un Canadien sur deux risque de développer un cancer au cours de sa vie et les effets peuvent être dévastateurs. Si tu as vu un membre de ta famille lutter contre le cancer, tu t’es peut-être demandé si tu avais la même prédisposition génétique que lui. Cette crainte t’a peut-être amené à examiner si des facteurs externes comme l’alimentation, l’exercice et l’environnement peuvent jouer un rôle dans le développement d’un cancer. Mais as-tu pensé aux liens qui existent entre la consommation d’alcool et le cancer ? La science montre que l’alcool peut être un facteur contribuant au développement de certains types de cancer, notamment les cancers de la bouche, de la gorge (pharynx), du larynx, de l’œsophage, du foie, du côlon, du rectum et du sein. Si tu n’as jamais pensé au lien entre l’alcool et le cancer, tu n’es pas seul ; 7 Nord-Américains sur 10 ne sont pas conscients de ce lien. Cela s’explique par le fait que l’alcool est tellement présent de manière normale dans nos vies sociales que nous n’y pensons même pas.

L’alcool fait partie de notre culture. Il est ancré dans notre façon de communiquer et nous aide à nous sentir à l’aise et confiants pendant certaines interactions sociales. De nombreuses personnes ne réalisent pas les effets à long terme de l’alcool et, souvent, le gain à court terme ne vaut pas les risques pour la santé. Nous pouvons adopter une approche réactive face à nos problèmes, y compris notre santé, mais avec une approche proactive, tu peux prévenir les cancers liés à l’alcool. Pour illustrer ce point, une autre perspective que tu peux considérer est ta santé dentaire. Même s’il peut être pénible de se brosser les dents et d’utiliser du fil dentaire régulièrement, ou de se rendre chez le dentiste plusieurs fois par an, cela s’avère payant car cela te permet d’éviter d’avoir des caries. Tu devras utiliser le fil dentaire deux fois par jour ou plusieurs fois par semaine, mais au final ton comportement préventif et attentif sera payant sur le long terme.

Quelles sont les statistiques sur l’alcool et le cancer?

Plus tu bois, plus tu as de chances de développer un cancer et plus ce dernier est grave. Les personnes qui boivent deux à trois verres ou plus par jour sont les plus à risque. Même si tu ne bois pas beaucoup, disons quelques verres par semaine, les risques sont plus élevés que pour les non-buveurs. L’alcool augmente le risque de développer un cancer dans sept parties du corps. Le type de cancer le plus courant provoqué par l’alcool est le carcinome spinocellulaire, qui se développe dans la paroi de l’œsophage. Le cancer du côlon et du rectum est également fréquent et les gros buveurs ont une probabilité 44 % plus élevée de développer un cancer du côlon ou du rectum que les non-buveurs. Le risque de contracter un cancer du sein augmente également proportionnellement à la quantité d’alcool consommée chaque semaine.

Alors pourquoi l’alcool est-il nocif?

  1. Mutation de l’ADN : l’alcool a des propriétés inflammatoires et peut attaquer tes organes et tes tissus. En défense, ton corps réagit en essayant de se réparer et cela peut conduire à des erreurs dans ton ADN qui provoquent la croissance de cellules cancéreuses.
  2.  Hormones: chez les femmes, l’alcool peut augmenter le taux d’œstrogènes, un facteur de risque qui peut favoriser la croissance des cellules cancéreuses.
  3. Produits chimiques toxiques: lorsque ton organisme transforme l’éthanol contenu dans l’alcool, il produit un composé. Les chercheurs pensent que ce composé peut être à l’origine du cancer.
  4.  Nutriments: l’alcool affaiblit ton système immunitaire et rend plus difficile l’absorption par ton organisme de certaines vitamines clés, ce qui engendre un risque accru de cancer. Ces vitamines comprennent, entre autres, les vitamines B et les folates.
  5.  Prise de poids: l’alcool contient des sucres et des glucides qui peuvent te faire prendre du poids et le surpoids augmente les risques de cancer.

Alors que les preuves et les recherches continuent de se développer en ce qui concerne l’alcool et son rôle en tant que facteur de risque de cancer, une chose est sûre : moins tu bois d’alcool, moins tu risques de développer un cancer lié à l’alcool. Des études ont confirmé que les risques les plus graves sont engendrés par la consommation de quatre verres ou plus par jour. Il est important de se rappeler que beaucoup d’entre nous boivent plus qu’un verre de spiritueux de 1,5 once, 5 onces de vin ou 12 onces de bière. Il est donc possible que tu boives en dehors des limites que tu t’es fixées. Il n’est pas nécessaire de changer tout d’un coup, mais prendre conscience de l’impact que l’alcool peut avoir sur ton corps est une étape essentielle pour prendre ta santé en main. En matière de cancer et d’alcool, le savoir est le pouvoir.

** Que penses-tu de l’ajout d’un petit texte sur les directives canadiennes en matière de risques?

Il est très courant de s’emmêler les pinceaux et de ne plus savoir exactement ce qui compte pour un verre d’alcool. Les directives canadiennes de consommation d’alcool à faible risque permettent d’y voir plus clair.

Un verre d’alcool équivaut à:

Bière – 341 ml, 12 onces, 5 % d’alcool.

Cidre – 341 ml, 12 onces, 5 % d’alcool

Vin – 142 ml, 5 onces, 12 % d’alcool

Alcool distillé (seigle, gin, rhum, etc.) 43 ml, 1,5 onces, 40 % d’alcool.

Alcohol & Diabetes Risk / Alcool et risque de diabète

The Effect of Alcohol on Diabetes / Les effets de l’alcool sur le diabète

13% of North American adults have diabetes and that’s not including those who are pre-diabetic or at risk. It takes concerted effort, planning, and grit to manage your sugars. While many of us go through stages of wanting to reduce our sugars, there’s added pressure, temptation, and stress when there isn’t a choice around consuming sugars. Still, you might make the decision to cut out cake and chocolate – obvious candidates – but forget that while drinking, you also consume sugars. Drinks often slip under the radar when it comes to maintaining balanced glucose levels and for those who struggle to keep theirs under control, drinking can be a way to relax. This oversight can be costly to health. Not only are there substantial calories in alcohol, but there is a lot of sugar. 

Alcohol is made from natural sugars and starch and the number of calories depends on the fermentation process specific to the kind of alcohol you are consuming. The calories in alcohol are empty calories, meaning they don’t have any nutritional value. It’s easy to write off drinks and focus your successes on the way you abstain from unhealthy food choices but drink calories add up. For instance, one gram of alcohol contains seven calories and one gram of fat contains nine calories. Keep in mind that when you’re drinking hard liquor, it’s common to add in other sodas and drinks with added sugars. 

Let’s break down the calories and sugar content in common alcoholic beverages. 

You might drink a cider each evening to wind down while talking to a friend on the phone and you probably don’t even think about it. 

You might not even put that much in a picture of lemonade. So, if your sugars are off kilter and you feel foggy and low energy the morning after drinking, you know the culprit. If you choose to drink, your best bet for an option with the lowest sugar content is a glass of red wine or a beer.

Alcohol starts to affect your body the moment you take your first sip. While it may feel as if the occasional drink isn’t a concern, the cumulative effects of drinking wine, beer, or spirits over a prolonged period can negatively affect your health. It’s not just about putting that extra sugar in your body but instead about the way that alcohol affects your body’s ability to process sugar. Drinking alcohol affects your pancreas and liver, and your pancreas is responsible for keeping balanced sugar levels in the body. Drinking too much can take its toll on the pancreas, which can cause an imbalance in your blood sugars and lead to increased diabetes-related complications.  

Aside from the direct impact on blood-glucose levels, consuming less sugar can make you feel better. It can be hard to find a compelling enough reason to reduce sugar but at ALAViDA, we get an inside look at how members feel at the start of their program and when they leave the program. At that point most have reduced their drinking and sugars and it shows. Many members feel increased energy and desire to exercise, as well as experiencing weight loss. When you know the sugar content of alcohol, it empowers you to make choices about how you consume your sugars and you might find that you prefer the occasional piece of cake to a bottle of wine. 

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Les effets de l’alcool sur le diabète

13 % des adultes nord-américains sont diabétiques, sans compter les personnes pré-diabétiques ou à risque. Il faut des efforts réfléchis, bien planifier et avoir du courage pour bien gérer sa glycémie. Beaucoup d’entre nous souhaitent réduire leur consommation de sucre, mais la pression, la tentation et le stress augmentent lorsque nous n’avons pas d’autre choix que de consommer du sucre. Tu peux décider d’éliminer les gâteaux et le chocolat – c’est ce qui semble le plus évident – mais n’oublies pas qu’en buvant, tu consommes aussi du sucre. On ne pense pas forcément aux boissons alcoolisées lorsque l’on essaye de maintenir un taux de glucose équilibré et, pour ceux qui ont du mal à contrôler le leur, boire peut être un moyen de se détendre. Cette négligence peut être coûteuse pour la santé. Non seulement l’alcool contient beaucoup de calories, mais il contient aussi beaucoup de sucre.

L’alcool est fabriqué à partir de sucres naturels et d’amidon et le nombre de calories dépend du processus de fermentation propre au type d’alcool que tu consommes. Les calories contenues dans l’alcool sont des calories vides, ce qui signifie qu’elles n’ont aucune valeur nutritionnelle. Il arrive souvent que l’on n’accorde pas d’importance aux boissons alcoolisées et que l’on se concentre uniquement sur le fait de s’abstenir de consommer des aliments malsains, mais les calories des boissons s’additionnent. Par exemple, un gramme d’alcool contient sept calories et un gramme de graisse en contient neuf. De plus, lorsque l’on boit de l’alcool fort, il est courant d’ajouter d’autres sodas et boissons contenant des sucres ajoutés.

Examinons de plus près les calories et la teneur en sucre de certaines des boissons alcoolisées les plus courantes.

Il est possible que tous les soirs tu boives un cidre pour te détendre tout en parlant avec un ami au téléphone et il est probable que tu n’y penses même pas.

Tu ne mets peut-être même pas une quantité aussi importante dans une limonade. Si ton taux de sucre n’est pas équilibré et que tu te sens dans le brouillard et sans énergie le lendemain matin lorsque tu as bu, tu connais donc le coupable. Si tu décides de boire, les boissons avec une teneur en sucre plus faible seraient un verre de vin rouge ou une bière.

L’alcool commence à affecter ton corps dès la première gorgée. Bien que l’on puisse avoir l’impression que la consommation occasionnelle d’alcool n’est pas un problème, les effets cumulatifs de la consommation de vin, de bière ou de spiritueux sur une période prolongée peuvent avoir des répercussions négatives sur ta santé. Le problème n’est pas seulement l’apport de sucre supplémentaire dans ton corps, mais c’est surtout la façon dont l’alcool affecte la capacité de ton corps à traiter le sucre. La consommation d’alcool affecte le pancréas et le foie, et le pancréas est responsable de l’équilibre des niveaux de sucre dans l’organisme. Une consommation excessive d’alcool peut avoir des conséquences néfastes sur le pancréas, ce qui peut provoquer un déséquilibre de la glycémie et entraîner une augmentation des complications liées au diabète.

Outre l’impact direct sur la glycémie, consommer moins de sucre peut te faire te sentir mieux. Il est parfois compliqué de trouver une raison suffisamment convaincante pour réduire la consommation de sucre. À ALAViDA, nous demandons à nos membres comment ils se sentent au début et à la fin de leur programme. Lorsqu’ils terminent, la plupart d’entre eux ont réduit leur consommation d’alcool et de sucre, et cela se voit. Beaucoup d’entre eux se sentent plus énergiques, ont envie de faire de l’exercice et ont perdu du poids. Le fait d’être au courant de la teneur en sucre de l’alcool te permet de mieux contrôler ta consommation de sucre, et tu te rendras peut-être compte que tu préfères une part de gâteau occasionnelle à une bouteille de vin. 

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The Hidden Benefits of Drinking Less
Hidden benefits of drinking less
(Illustration by Allyssah Fitterer)

The effect less alcohol has on our bodies is, quite honestly, amazing.

All of the time and energy our body spends breaking down and digesting alcohol moves toward increasing the efficiency of other functions, and wildly improves other aspects of our health. This leads to a variety of improvements in your mental and physical well-being. But in what ways does consuming less alcohol help us?

You have more energy, and feel better in general.

On the mental side, drinking can help individuals feel calmer and relaxed, but the brain quickly adjusts to those positive effects as it tries to maintain balance. Because of this, when the buzz wears off, people can feel more restless and anxious than before they drank. 

Physically, continuous alcohol-use is tough on the brain and body, as it works overtime to metabolize the alcohol, adjust to the neurological stimulation caused by it, and simply regulate one’s heartbeat and breathing pattern. Without alcohol, the mind and body are able to function at higher levels, because it is not focused on regulating the body’s response to alcohol, as well as processing it. 

Better relationships.

Alcohol can release emotions we were holding back or make feelings of anger and frustration feel more intense, which can affect our health, friendships, family and work. Heavy drinking patterns may also change the way we make decisions and react to diverse stimuli and stressors, which can lead to possible disagreements and arguments, as we’re less likely to be diplomatic or refrain ourselves from showing frustrations when we’re intoxicated.

When we are aware of our thoughts and actions, there is a higher chance of feeling our frustration and letting it pass, instead of acting on it in the moment. Because of your ability to better control your behaviour, you may find yourself with more time to be patient, understanding, and to put effort into your relationships with others. 

In contrast, if you realize that most arguments sparked with a loved one occur when one or both of you had been drinking, this might be a red flag about the impact of alcohol consumption on your relationship. 

Better sleep.

Drinking before bed may make us sleepy, but it actually worsens the quality of sleep one gets because it activates a part of the brain that is usually inactive during regular sleep. This activity disable our ability to enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, where we get our deepest sleep. 

You look younger.

Alcohol tends to make people look older than they are. It’s a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates the body, and because the skin dries out, it has less elasticity.

It also causes inflammation. This is why we see some people get red cheeks when they drink. The redness usually goes away once they alcohol leaves their system, but over time, constant inflammation does cause skin damage. Reducing alcohol consumption can help rehydrate your skin and improve its elasticity. 

You may even lose weight.

Alcohol contains “empty calories”, meaning it doesn’t necessarily keep you full or provide nutritional value. When alcohol is metabolized in the liver, it is converted into a substance that is consumed in priority to usual fuels such as fat and sugar, which may be the reason why workouts and diets may not have the desired effects when drinking heavily, even on an occasional basis.

A common alcohol-related activity is eating out as well, where the chances of getting something both healthy and nutritious are slim compared to a home-cooked meal,  making it easier to gain weight. Many of our clients have lost significant weight on their journey to drinking less, including dropping 50 lbs and going down 4 dress sizes because they no longer consume as many empty calories.  

Of course, there are other benefits to drinking less that we haven’t mentioned here, such as saving money, improving liver and heart health, and many more.

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ALAViDA is a virtual care treatment program that helps people get back to a healthier relationship with substances, thanks to the combination of therapy, medication and technology. On our blog, you will find stories, testimonials, evidence-based information and useful tips on how to prevent and overcome substance abuse, while sustaining a healthy body and mind.

Sleeping with the Enemy

By Kristen Hydes

The evening routine; as a young child it often involved a bedtime story and a warm bath with scents of lavender and the soft voice of a loved one helping us transition into bedtime.  There is an entire market dedicated to soothing “fussy babies” with lotions, music and sound machines.

As a young adult or first year University student, the evening ritual often included late night cramming and fast food runs. There may have been occasional parties and binge drinking on the weekends, however, an evening nightcap of a “hard day” at school was not always routine on a weeknight (save that one for the ‘Weekend Warrior’ to emerge). And then after, as we embark on our career paths with longer hours and stressful days, we begin to introduce alcohol as a part of the evening routine.

It often begins with having a glass of wine while cooking dinner for your partner, or a gin and tonic on the patio with colleagues after a long day at work. You can overhear other groups of people collecting over the mantra of “we deserve this” and “work hard, play harder”.

The drinks progress over the evening at home and you feel that you have arrived to a sensation of “calm”; things feel less intense and your pervasive thoughts over the next day seem to have softened.  You feel that you are able to find a sense of peace that lends you to falling asleep on the couch (with the TV still on) or slipping into slumber as soon as you hit the pillow of your bed.

It may appear that this routine of “winding down” in the evening is helpful to your sleep, and reduces your experience of stress. Unfortunately, the effects of continuous exposure to alcohol in large volumes on a daily basis impacts our nervous system and our overall ability to regulate and self-soothe.  There is a known correlation between the dependency of alcohol and symptoms of anxiety. When we no longer know how to “cope” with everyday stressors without the aid of alcohol, we create a very attached relationship to alcohol as a means to settle.

As the pattern of using alcohol for a means to sleep consists over time, removing alcohol from the evening routine will often result in feelings of anxiousness, insomnia and discomfort. Therefore, it may be helpful to start challenging the evening beer after dinner, or third glass of wine at the dinner table.

Challenging your ‘night-cap’:

In order to challenge the relationship between our alcohol dependencies for sleep, we must introduce evening rituals that allow for similar effects to comfort the nervous system, without depending on the effects of alcohol for slumber.

  1. Try reducing your alcohol content 4 hours before your estimated “bedtime”. This will allow for your body to begin metabolizing the alcohol and reduce the impact that alcohol has on our REM sleep – crucial for us to feel ‘rested’.
  2.  Create “clean” bedtime habits; such as reducing screen time before bed and ensuring the bedroom is a haven for rest.
  3. Introduce a new evening “ritual” such as finding an enjoyable non-caffeinated tea before bedtime or rubbing hands and feet with lavender oil.
  4. While in bed, allow for reflection at the end of the day by keeping a journal near your bedside table to identify what might be causing the issues and impacting your sleep. If a journal does not appeal to you, you may be interested in reflecting three things you are grateful for at the end of each day as a practice of mindfulness.

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Kristen Hydes is the Clinical Program Manager at ALAViDA. She’s a registered social worker and holds a Master in Counselling Psychology, and has over 10 years of experience counselling individuals and families. Kristen holds a passion for working with clients and families who are impacted by addiction, and pulls from evidence based methods of counselling to ensure the highest standard of care.

Identify and Resolve Sleep Challenges

Sleep is an aspect of human life that often goes overlooked and underappreciated – that is, until we’re not getting enough of it. When our sleep quality is not where it should be, our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing are all negatively affected. If you’re struggling to get adequate sleep, you’re not alone. In fact, results from Statistics Canada showed that between 2007 and 2013, 43 percent of men and 55 percent of women between 18 and 64 years of age reported difficulties falling or staying asleep.

Learning to identify what unhealthy sleep patterns look like is the first step in addressing the issue. The symptoms of poor sleep habits vary among us, but once we’ve identified ourselves as someone who currently struggles to get the rest we need, we’re in a better position to take the steps necessary to remedy the issue.

If something intuitive or rational is telling us that our sleep habits aren’t supporting our wellbeing, there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to get clear on what’s going on:

How easy or difficult is it for me to fall asleep?

While it’s not necessary to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, tossing and turning for hours before finally drifting off is a sign that something is out of balance. This restlessness could be due to mental or emotional challenges, or it could be due to disruptions in hormones or your circadian rhythm – a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of our brain that alternates between sleepiness and alertness.

Do I wake up throughout the night, and if so, do I fall back asleep with ease or difficulty?

Waking up in the middle of the night is not always disruptive, but we can usually tell when it is. If we are struggling to fall back asleep, this could be due to fear, anxiety, ruminating, or high levels of stress hormone and sugar circulating through the system. 

Do I wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day?

It’s okay to spend a bit of time adjusting to waking life once your eyes meet the daylight; however, if you are overly lethargic in the morning, something might be off. You might be sleeping for too little or too long or your body might be processing excess alcohol and other toxins during the night, inhibiting you from fully resting and restoring effectively.

If you’ve identified that you are indeed struggling to maintain a healthy sleep routine, there are a variety of measures you can take to improve the quality of your resting hours. What works for one person might be different from what works for another since there are many causes for poor sleep. There are a few lifestyle adjustments we can explore in an effort to improve the quality of our slumber – and in doing so, our waking life, too:

1. Mindful breathing before sleep

If the underlying cause of our sleep struggles is anxiety, stress, or fear, mindful breathing or meditation can help us settle the nervous system. As we deepen the breath, we activate the body’s relaxation response, which helps us to sink more effortlessly into slumber. There are plenty of free or paid apps such as Headspace, Calm, and others available that can help take the mind off the ticking clock in our heads. Focusing on your breath, instead of the minutes flying by in the middle of the night, can help you relax and return to sleep.

2. Aromatherapy with lavender oil

Lavender oil has long been regarded as a natural stress remedy. Once again, if the cause of poor sleep quality is related to an inability to relax, diffusing lavender oil in the room before hitting the pillow can help us prepare for the restoration our body yearns for.

3. Lowering sugar and refined carbs before bed

High or fluctuating blood sugar levels can make it difficult for us to fall or to stay asleep. If blood sugar levels fall too drastically in the middle of the night, the body secretes stress hormones to bring those levels back up, which can cause us to wake up. Alcohol, while tempting as a night cap, can impact our nervous system and overall ability to regulate and self soothe. Reducing alcohol prior to bed and ensuring late night meals and snacks are of a low glycemic load can help to regulate our blood sugar levels and prevent this 2:00 am rise.

4. Setting reminders for the next day

Thinking about the next day and our to-do lists or having a sudden thought we don’t want to forget are likely to keep us awake. To help the brain let go and stop yourself from worrying about forgetting something, set a reminder for the next day. Technologies like Alexa or Google Assistant allow you to do so without even getting out of bed or turning the light on. Alternatively, you can use your phone or keep a notebook beside you for when ideas keep your mind at work at night.

A solid night’s sleep empowers your waking day and nourishes your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. While the cause of unhealthy sleep patterns is different for each of us, these tips are a good place to start if you’ve found that unhealthy sleep patterns are negatively impacting your life. An extra tip? Check in with your morning behaviours in addition to your nightly ones. Everything has a ripple effect, so if you begin the day with a meal that is high in sugar or you aren’t remembering to breathe consciously throughout daily stressors, these patterns will gain momentum and be harder to break in the evening. Any action taken to enhance your wellbeing will have an effect on the way you sleep. So, you can begin your journey towards a solid slumber right where you are – one breath at a time.

[Editor’s Note: The author of this post is a content contributor to Alavida, and this contributor was paid for their writing. The opinions, views, results and experiences are theirs alone.]

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.


Gillian Sanger is a yoga and meditation teacher, holistic nutritionist, and creative non-fiction writer. Committed to self-inquiry and to meditation in its many forms, she practices living life in alignment with the natural world, both inside and out. She seeks guidance and direction from her heart and from her highest self, strengthening her knowledge and intuition through her personal spiritual practice and through the written word.

Transition Your Routine Smoothly

The coming of September reminds us of the ever-changing nature of seasons. Autumn, the start of school, and a new work year ( the end of the carefree months of summer) crop up on us whether we’re prepared for transition or not. Any time of transition brings the potential for challenge, whether we struggle with the new demands and routines that September brings or with the oncoming of colder weather. In any case, preparing ourselves for whatever challenges the new season presents us with is our best shot at navigating these changes with ease. In doing so, we emerge happy, healthy, and empowered to continue living life in alignment with our goals. 

How can change in seasons impact your drinking

Anytime the world around us shifts, our lifestyle and drinking habits are at risk of doing the same. In some cases, autumn may come with fewer get-togethers than Summer and therefore, decreased opportunities to drink. However, for others, the pull back into a routine can increase stress, decrease overall life satisfaction, and spark triggers that lead to drinking habits that are not aligned with our best intentions. Bringing our awareness to this moment of transition is our first step to navigating it successfully.

Strategies to go back into a healthy, stress-free rhythm

Beyond awareness of the undeniable change in season, how can we transition smoothly out of summer – without falling into the all-too-common cycle of work, drink, eat, sleep, repeat? Consider these simple tips to help you release stress, anxiety or the winter blues and remain committed to a healthier lifestyle – with less or without alcohol.

1. Explore an extracurricular activity.

Extracurriculars aren’t only for kids. As adults, we can expand our social circle in new ways (where alcohol is not a common denominator) by joining an adult-class in any number of areas. Consider trying your hand at painting, pottery, dance, or climbing. Even a weekly scheduled documentary night at-home can be considered an extracurricular. Find an activity that opens your mind and sparks your curiosity or creativity.

2. Practice post-work mindfulness.

Cushion and blanket

Set up a quiet area in your home, adorning it with blankets, cushions, and candles, and use this space to reset after a long day of school or work. Take five minutes or more daily to come to this space and mindfully focus on your breath or stretch your body. If the mind jumps in with thoughts of the summer, socializing, or a cold beer, acknowledge those thoughts and focus on the activity you’re doing – being gentle with yourself is a way to remind you that there may be a time and place for those things, but right now is not dedicated to any of those. As you truly nourish yourself in this quiet and mindful way, you’ll gain a clearer frame of mind that will help you to stay committed to your healthy lifestyle habits.

3. Focus on the positive.

Summer is light, airy, and easy-going, but that doesn’t mean that autumn is the opposite. Focusing on the stressful and less-than-fun demands that this new season sometimes bring might spark our cravings for things that don’t really serve us. Instead, direct your attention on all that soothes you at this time of year. Consider the characteristics – both literal and figurative – of autumn: shedding, letting go, slowing down, and storing energy. Can you witness the beauty in these qualities and honour where they exist in you, too?

4. Honour this time of rest.

Regardless of what September means or looks like for you, we all undergo some type of transition at this time of year. Becoming more aware of how this time of transition challenges you personally and preparing to manage this with any of the above tools, you’ll find yourself better equipped to navigate whatever changes are coming your way. Embrace autumn as an opportunity – rather than exclusively as a challenge – and you’ll find renewed confidence in the path you are forging.

[Editor’s Note: The author of this post is a content contributor to Alavida, and this contributor was paid for their writing. The opinions, views, results and experiences are theirs alone.]

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.


Gillian Sanger is a yoga and meditation teacher, holistic nutritionist, and creative non-fiction writer. Committed to self-inquiry and to meditation in its many forms, she practices living life in alignment with the natural world, both inside and out. She seeks guidance and direction from her heart and from her highest self, strengthening her knowledge and intuition through her personal spiritual practice and through the written word.

Technology Driven Health Solutions

Human life has changed in countless significant ways over the past few decades with the rise of technology. Though it’s hard to remember a world pre-internet, there was a time not too long ago when the best way to gather information was to head to the library and flip through a few books. Services, too, were at one point delivered exclusively in-person. Nowadays, the ways we access information and engage in services are largely through online means. This expanding technological field has had profound impacts on health and wellness, empowering us to take greater control of our wellbeing.

Increased accessibility and service quality

Health apps and websites are on the rise, bringing management and maintenance of wellbeing into our own hands. These new technologies have helped in countless ways behind the scenes of health care as well, playing a part in helping to prevent, diagnose, and treat a variety of conditions. In 2017, a comprehensive analysis of new health-promoting technologies determined that the use of these technologies can help to:

·         Reduce operational and administrative costs,

·         Improve access to health care, and

·         Increase quality and efficiency of care, amongst other benefits.

With internet-based services at our fingertips, we can connect with health care providers and professionals from anywhere and at any time. Online health programs also empower those who do not typically seek support through traditional means, placing the opportunity for wellness assistance in the hands of anyone with a personal device. A wide range of online services mean prices vary, thus increasing the accessibility of various types of health services. From free apps to more expensive and intensive online programs, everyone can find online groups and communities to support their wellbeing.

The benefits of technology in alcohol treatments

When it comes to reducing alcohol consumption, this new way of delivering treatment comes at an appropriate time as within North America, less than 1 out 3 people seek treatment for heavy drinking, according to J. A. Cunningham, K. Kypri and J. McCambridge in “The Use of Emerging Technologies in Alcohol Treatment”. The report suggests that some of the primary reasons people do not seek treatment include stigma, embarrassment, and a desire to manage this struggle on one’s own. Online services and associated technologies offer individuals the opportunity to find support in their own way, without the high costs, travel distances, and requirement of showing up in-person. They also help to ensure that continued support is available.

Studies are beginning to show that these new ways of intervening with one’s drinking patterns are effective. One randomized trial conducted in the Netherlands found that an interactive, web-based treatment program helped to reduce heavy drinking amongst participants. Weekly alcohol consumption dropped significantly compared to the trial’s control group.

For successful results, patient engagement is key

Doctor showing a patient the ALAViDA on her laptopThe truth is, not all platforms are created equally. Tools, features, and levels of personalization vary greatly from one service to the next, creating vast discrepancies in user experience of online health services. Cynthia Burghard, research director at IDC Health Insights, names two key elements that create a better experience for users: functionality and personalization. Mobile apps, appointment reminder systems, and ease of use add to the functionality of any platform. When it comes to personalization, individually tailored approaches stemming from real-time data help caregivers to deliver the most effective treatment to each individual they work with. The combination of functionality and personalization allows patients to better manage their own health, leading to greater success in treatment. Effective Internet-based treatment programs bridge the gap between patients and their health providers. While many apps and online platforms provide limited opportunity for interaction between caregivers and clients, some services are enhancing personalization by focusing on patient engagement. Greater engagement with clients increases the bond and sense of trust that is established between clients and health care companies.

When it comes to improving our health through the management of alcohol consumption, ALAViDA is an example of one online platform that focuses heavily on client engagement and personalization. The customized program is able to provide personalized care through client diaries and private sessions with therapists and doctors. Through the online platform, clients log their drinking and non-drinking days, their triggers and protective factors, and their medication intake. These records help individuals to monitor their consumption, reflect upon it, and consequently become more mindful of their intake. It also helps caregivers to respond most effectively to the data provided. This type of monitoring and increased mindfulness of personal habits helps clients reach their goals and sustain them long-term.

How to get the results you want using an app or online program

With all of the potential benefits provided by Internet-based programs, how can we contribute to our personal health journey while using new health-promoting technologies? What types of features should we be looking out for? Here is a guide that can help us choose the right service and boost the efficacy of the technology available.

1. Choosing the app or platform that is right for us.

When choosing an internet-based health care service, consider the features that are most important to you. For instance, do you want it to be mobile device-friendly? Do you want reminders, motivating messages, or personalized feedback? Think about the time you want to spend on your device using a health-promoting tool to help determine which platform best suits your lifestyle. Explore the interface in advance (if possible) to get a feel for how user-friendly it is.

2. Setting inspiring goals that are within our reach.

The goals we set for ourselves should be both challenging and within reach. Even though you’re not there yet, the objectives you set should feel attainable. To help achieve your goals for the future, ensure that they are specific, measurable, and timely. Focus on short and mid-term goals while keeping long-term goals on the backburner for a later pursuit.

3. Providing feedback with our health care provider.

We can help to strengthen the bridge between ourselves and our care providers by offering our feedback on the services we’re using. What feels to be working, and what doesn’t? Opening up about our experience can help to improve the care we are receiving in the present moment, while also helping to improve the technology being used. Providing honest feedback strengthens the human connection between ourselves and our therapist or doctor, the most important link in any client-caregiver relationship.

4. Using the technology available as a helping hand.

The technology our service is based upon can be an effective tool in our journey towards greater health and wellness; however, it’s not the driving force. Remembering that we are the key agents in making change happen helps us feel empowered and in charge of our own health. The technology behind the scenes can be viewed as a helping hand while we, ourselves, are doing the real work.

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.


Alavida is an outpatient treatment program that helps people to get back to a healthier relationship with alcohol, thanks to the combination of medication, therapy and technology. On our blog, you will find stories, testimonials, evidence-based information and useful tips on how to prevent and overcome heavy drinking, while sustaining a healthy body and mind.