I love to drink.
And not just socially. I get home and have a glass of wine. Or I go to the beach and bring a six pack of tropical beer. I would hit up happy hour at least twice a week and then still had time to go out on the weekends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hard partier. I maintain a 3.7 GPA, have taken over 16 credit hours for the past four semesters and have had internships and jobs. I’m not an alcoholic…at least not yet.
Lately I’ve been noticing that the glass of wine I have at night, has turned into a bottle of wine. Easily. And with barely any sense of buzziness.
Then, that bottle of wine turned into a bottle and a half of wine.
That’s when I put a cork in it…literally.
I decided to stop buying alcohol for my house, and instead only go out on weekends. So far, it’s been a success.
Alcohol is not part of my paleo diet, but it’s just one thing I can’t give up. I gave up the bread, the cereal, the milk, oh the cheese. Sadly the cheese. But I just can’t give up the alcohol.
But is it a matter of can’t or won’t?
In the wake of a hangover, I was sifting through The Chart, one of my favorite places to read about health issues, and I stumbled across an article on “how the brain can make quitting alcohol harder.” Different people release different levels of opioid when they drink, leading them to perceive alcohol as more pleasurable than other people do.
This hardly sounds shocking. Studies have been done on alcoholics and brain chemistry for awhile.
But what really interested me about the study was that the “participants were 13 ‘heavy social drinkers’ and 12 healthy control subjects. Women considered ‘heavy social drinkers’ usually consume 10 to 16 drinks per week, and heavy-drinking men typically have 14 to 20 drinks per week. Those in the control group drink fewer than five drinks per week among women, and seven drinks per week among men.”
And the “heavy social drinkers” would “have on average two drinks a day, which isn’t necessarily going to lead to dependency.” The article also mentioned, “It’s important to note, however, that this study did not involve alcoholics.”
I felt like this article was speaking to me. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was a heavy drinker.
The scary part of this study is that I pretty much conditioned my brain to love drinking. And in turn, it now reacts on its own.
“It’s hard to stop because part of your brain has learned that drinking is important and compels you to continue,” the article says. “Your brain is telling you this is something important to you.”
The brain is truly a complexed wonder.
“The orbital frontal cortex makes them subconsciously learn to want that rush of pleasure again – making them seek and crave alcohol in a way they’re not even aware of.”
I’ve already taken a step in the right direction by limiting my intake. But I guess I’ll always subconsciously have the urge.