Have you tried to cut back on your drinking and found it hard?
Do you look at others and wonder how they do it?
I did too. I’d see other people decide they weren’t going to drink during the week, or were only going to drink with others, and think to myself, How are they doing that?
Now I know.
It’s because I kept repeating Day 1. I didn’t realise that I simply had to get some distance between me and the last drink.
When we’re Grey Area Drinkers, it’s hard to admit that drinking has become a habit. When it’s a habit, we’re regularly drinking an addictive substance. Regularly drinking an addictive substance will mean we’re somewhere on the spectrum of addiction. Maybe only lightly on the spectrum, but if drinking is part of our lives, we’re constantly in withdrawal.
So the first few days of not drinking...
I get asked this quite a lot.
When I was drinking too much, I spent ages dithering between "I think I need to do something about my drinking" and "I’m over-reacting, everyone drinks, I'm fine".
Our culture tells us that drinking is a normal part of life (it’s not), it’s harmless (it’s not) and that there’s a specific line that you cross from “normal drinker” into “alcoholic” (not true).
Only you know if your drinking is ok or not.
For me, it was when I found myself hiding my empties from Matt – I just didn’t want to put them in the recycling! It looked too bad! I thought maybe I’d take them next time I went out and put them in a bin somewhere else … and I caught myself thinking that, and thought WHAT?
One of the tools we can use to escape from the alcohol trap is dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that most people think make us feel happy, but is actually associated with reward and motivation.
There are three ways that we can not only outsmart dopamine as it tries to encourage us to drink, but we can harness it to our advantage.
Start noticing when dopamine receptors are trying to make you push you towards believing something will make you feel good, but that will actually make you feel guilty, unhappy and just craving more.
So when you find yourself craving a drink so badly you can’t think of anything else, remind yourself what’s actually happening in your brain, and that dopamine just wants you to feel cravings, not satisfaction (that sneaky lizard brain).
And if you do give in and have that drink, and feel sick and furious after the first rush has...
Our caveman brains are driving us towards them all. Amazingly, our ancient brains push us towards them as part of our survival mechanism, thanks to a little thing called Dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter — a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain cells and communicates information throughout the body, and it plays HUGE role in our cravings.
When we have an alcoholic drink, dopamine is released and we get a little “high”.
Lots of people think that because of this high, dopamine is connected to happiness – but it’s not. Dopamine is actually connected to motivation and learning.
Dopamine is designed to keep you alive. This is the chemical that’s also involved in movement, motivation and reinforcement. It’s part of the survival mechanism – it drives us to crave high energy foods (hello, Cadbury’s Family Size Bar), finding a mate and social connection...
Have you ever been paralysed by the fear of failure? I used to spend a lot of time playing small and pretending I didn’t really want things, things I actually REALLY wanted, because I was so scared of getting it wrong.
When I was drinking too much (and hiding it brilliantly), I had an awesome group of running buddies.
Once or twice a week we’d head out to the boardwalk and pound along for forty minutes or an hour. At that point in our lives, most of us had babies and small kids, and to be honest, it was just a way of getting some “me time” and some space outside the house. We weren’t super athletes. I don’t think I even knew what a PB was.
And even though I was drinking a lot at night, I’d always get up the next day (with a freaking sore head and furry mouth) and function well. I could Do the Do. I could run.
But I didn’t run very well, or fast. And when our local...
What if someone offered you a magic elixir that would whisk you out of your humdrum life for an hour a day?
That would smooth the jagged edges of your mind and magically erase the annoyances swirling around your brain? And that would return you, fresh and renewed, to pick up where you left off?
You’d jump at it, right?
We all want to get that instant hit of downtime. We’re all time poor and trying to juggle so much.
You’ve seen that meme of the dishevelled crazy barbie that reads: “Me trying to work, go to the gym, entertain my kids, not be broke, maintain a social life and get 8 hours of sleep a night” – well I bet that at certain times, that is your life.
I get it, because it’s me too.
It’s #everymum. (Well, except that annoyingly perfect mum at the school gate who has flawless makeup, is perfectly accessorised, is always smiling and never shouts at her kids. Who IS she?)
So those sneaky advertising...
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Breaking free from booze is simple, but not easy. And, like most things in life, it’s about a million times easier when you have your gang around you.
This is EVEN MORE the case when you’re kicking ethanol out of your life. Because you’re not just dealing with physical dependence, you are also:
Getting booze out of your life seems soooo hard at first.
You’re trying to juggle so many things at once; not drinking, dealing with those feeling of emptiness, having fun sober, feeling all the crappy feelings that you drank to avoid, dealing with the stress of not drinking, dealing with your partner or husband or friends telling you to “just moderate”…. the list goes...