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Posted on: 03/24/18

For various people, kicking back with a glass or two of wine is easy. You’re out somewhere with friends, you pour, you sip, you feel relaxed, get a buzz and that’s all.For others, one glass feels like, one night out leads to being out every other night. Alcohol starts taking up major mental and physical space and becomes a focal point of your life.  


What is alcohol addiction and how it works?

If you’re addicted to something, it doesn’t mean you’re weak or have weak willpower. Addiction lives in the nerves of your brain, it’s not a personal shortcoming.Addictive substances like alcohol, cigarette, marijuana, etc. activate pleasure receptors in your brain and they think that it’s important for the body. The more you switch on your pleasure pathways, the less pleasure you feel over time. So, your brain will crave stronger and stronger stimuli to get those chemicals which make you happy. Your brain grows a feeling of need for the stimulus after excessive use of the stimulants and over time you’re so used to it that you don’t even see it as a problem.


How to form good habits & quit unwanted ones?

Whether you’re starting a new habit or quitting an old one, success depends upon three things:


  1. Changing your behaviour – Either starting a new behaviour or working on existing one, in terms of how you respond to certain things.
  2. Willpower – Being physically and mentally resilient against weak moments and temptation. You must change the way you see yourself in the world
  3. Detox – get all of the nasty stuff that built up from years of drinking out of your system


Alcohol addiction recovery is a whole different thing, but there is some that overlap. Quitting drinking, specifically, has three distinct phases:


  • Become abstinent
  • Start the path of holistic recovery
  • With the understanding that you need all of these to work together, you can put together your plan to drop the bottle.


How to increase your chances of success?

When quitting drinking, you have to both change your environment (to eliminate the temptation) and set yourself up to be resilient when temptation hits.


The reason for this is you have different levels of thinking that are involved in decision-making. Think of high-level thinking as the more evolved human brain. When you’re relaxed, you can think things through, weigh pros and cons, predict outcomes in your mind, and arrive at the best possible decision.


High-level thinking allows you to stop before taking that first sip of alcohol, and rationally decide it’s not worth it.


Think of lower-level thinking as your inner labrador brain. When you let your labrador think for you, you’re more impulsive – labradors chase moving cars and eat road kill without a shred of thought about what happens after that. You shift to this lower level of thinking when your survival instincts kick in – when you’re feeling hungry, stressed, or fearful. That’s because the labrador brain makes decisions based on your brain’s reward system.

When you’re using lower-level thinking, you see a frosty mug of beer and your brain says, “go get that.” And you do.

Alcohol makes your brain’s reward system think you need it to survive. If you do everything you can to keep your human brain doing the thinking, you can process it thoroughly and consider the consequences. By keeping the labrador brain quiet, you will be much more able to turn off those alcohol-seeking behaviours.

Eat a healthier diet to help you avoid cravings

The idea of changing the way you eat at the same time you’re trying to quit drinking might seem overwhelming. However, stable blood sugar helps you make better decisions all day long. When your blood sugar drops and you feel hungry, the labrador brain starts barking for food and anything else that crosses into its field of vision. Cutting out sugary and starchy foods prevents energy crashes that lead to cranky, impulsive behaviour. Instead, focus on high-quality fats that will keep you full for longer.


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