Often, when we think we want a drink, what we really want and need are nothing to do with ethanol and the sensation it brings. Instead what we might be looking for could be:
- the company of friends, we simply feel lonely
- to soothe frustrations, to numb out the petty problems of the day
- to mark time, the end of one part of the day and the start of another. This is the wine or gin and tonic when you get home from work, the drink when the children (finally) fall asleep and the drink that you have at lunchtime when you have decided to take the rest of the day off from everything
- to relax quickly, and possibly whilst also doing something else, like cooking or helping with the kids’ homework. This was what I used alcohol for a lot. I called it ‘instant relax in a glass.’
- fun, excitement, and change. the initial buzz of a drink can be a pleasure, but if it is a buzz you are after, adrenaline or another happy brain hormone, there are many ways to get that sensation without all the health disasters that alcohol brings
- to numb out major life issues, this is the more chronic side of drinking where we feel emotional pain and have got into the habit of drinking to numb out from it. Frankly, this does feel effective in the short term, in my experience, but, sadly, there are no life problems that alcohol does not make worse. Getting into the habit of numbing problems rather than dealing with them means you miss out on developing a lot of life skills.
- the comfort of habit… you are stuck in habits and a drink is needed as this is always when you have a drink… if you tend to be a rigid thinker then this is hard to break… Depending on how flexibly you think, a swap to a similar alcohol-free drink might be the best approach.