Alcohol has been around for a long time. Social interactions, alcohol, and people have developed alongside each other for the last 10 million years according to Live Science, possibly even longer. I’ll spare you the background history because you’ve heard it all before.
In 2013, the National Survey On Drug Use And Health estimated approximately 134.8 million people drink alcohol in the United States alone; that’s nearly half of the population.
It’s embedded into the culture. If you’re trying to quit, you’ll experience setbacks that you never dreamed.
It almost feels as if your entire environment, everyone you know, friends, family, and what have you, are all against you too.
It’s not because they’re malicious, but because they just don’t get it. A few years back, I told my mom that I intended to stop drinking and we talked on the phone for 30 minutes about it.
When they came to visit me not long after I told her about this, they brought me a 24-case of Coors Light which they had never done before.
It blew my mind. I was furious. How could I talk to you on the phone for 30 minutes explaining how I needed to quit something, and then you show up with a case?
You’re better off to avoid saying “I don’t drink” when you’re around people who couldn’t possibly understand your issue.
You want to come up with an excuse as for why you’re not drinking at the moment, that way no one will feel insecure or threatened by your choice.
I once heard someone rationalize why it was ok to be a hardcore boozer, and he essentially said, “human beings have evolved over millennia while drinking alcohol.”
“It’s almost weird not to drink alcohol if you plan on talking to other people you don’t know. It’s in our nature to drink because of evolution.”
I argue that this is simply not the case. It may be for some people, but not others as alcohol abuse wipes out 10% of individuals.
I know that if I’m not careful, I will be one of them. It runs in my family, so I need to make a change.
Today marks my 20th day without drinking beer, vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, wine, or what have you. It feels pretty good.
I feel like I’m doing something great when I quit drinking; I’m not sure what it is about it, I feel like I’m accomplishing something.
I think about all of the benefits of not drinking, and it makes me feel excited.
When I don’t drink:
I spend less money so
I make more money.
I have more time to work.
I sleep better, so
I feel better throughout the day.
Because I sleep better I look healthier.
I don’t smoke cigarettes.
I don’t drink red bulls to give me more energy when I’m drunk.
I don’t get hungover.
I don’t eat shitty food.
I don’t say things I regret.
I don’t do things I regret.
I don’t put myself or others in danger.
I feel more confident.
The list goes on and on, but each improvement bleeds into the other. Everything works together.
This is a huge lifestyle shift for me to drop this shit. Whenever someone asks me why I don’t drink, I think to myself, “I think a better question is why DO YOU drink?”
However, it’s best not to say these things out loud because people will not understand you. They just don’t get it.
If they don’t have the problem, they will never comprehend it, although some of the more empathetic nature might have the capacity.
Apparently – as you’ve probably heard before – some people have a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse. A symptom of predisposition is elevated blood pressure when consuming multiple standard drinks within a short period.
For most people, drinking alcohol brings on a dopaminergic burst where they suddenly feel fantastic, like everything couldn’t be any better.
For the individuals with the predisposition, not only do they get a huge hit of dopamine, but their blood pressure and heart rate go up, which means it has a stimulatory-effect similar to cocaine, especially when they drink 3-4 drinks very fast.
Everything made sense after this fact was revealed to me because that describes me – case-in-point – when I drink.
I have that first drink – and it feels good – it brings me a feeling of intense pleasure, euphoria, alertness, and openness to social interaction.
I suddenly find myself walking up to people and sharing things with them that I typically reserve. I’ll open up regarding topics that I never usually discuss.
Most importantly, I’ll be more curious about someone else’s life. I’ll ask someone, “So how have you been doing lately?”
I’ll look at them intently, as if I really, really, care. The thing is: I do care, but after a couple of drinks, I REALLY care.
However, the feeling subsides, and it subsides hard. It’s comparable to the comedown off of cocaine. It doesn’t make me restless, irritable, paranoid, or self-conscious, but it brings a feeling of depression.
I feel the temptation to grab another drink almost immediately. The feeling to have another one is so intense.
It feels like If I just have another one I’ll feel fantastic for the rest of the night.
But, that’s seldom the case, after I down my next vodka, the feeling of wellbeing slowly goes away and almost disappears entirely, leaving me to keep getting drinks to chase that high, only to end up being blackout drunk without any inhibitions.
If you want to hear an interesting point about alcohol abuse, check out this video below from Jordan B Peterson:
For people without this genetic predisposition to alcohol, once they have a certain amount of drinks, it stops doing anything for them; they just start to feel tired, really drunk, hungry, and like shit.
That isn’t me though. When I drink it, I get hit with energy and happiness, and it inspires me to drink ALL NIGHT until all of the booze in the house is completely gone. This never ends well.
According to Vijay A Ramchandani, people vary widely in their response to alcohol, and for that reason, the effect and pharmacology of alcohol are complex. Genetic susceptibility to alcoholism accounts for more than 50% of the cases of substance abuse.
I find this information relatively surprising. But, yet, when I look around at the other people in my life, it’s quite clear that alcoholism runs through families.
Several family members close to me heavily drank. Some of them died early because of it, and one of them is about to pass away now.
I grew up with a kid, who I’ll call Matt, and he was a severe alcoholic.
When he was 24-years-old (I was 20 at the time), he went out into the garage and shot himself.
He left a note for his mother to read in the kitchen. Allegedly, it read, “Don’t come into the garage mom,” but who knows what it said; it could be a rumor.
In an article from the New York Times a couple of years ago, it read that around 35% of men who kill themselves are intoxicated when they do so.
There’s something about drinking that torments people on a fundamental level.
It makes you sad, but it can also numb pain and anxiety as if you don’t recognize the consequences of your actions as much.
When you’re 12 beers deep, the idea of killing yourself doesn’t seem so terrifying.
With that said, I don’t think a genetic predisposition is an excuse to engage in a particular kind of behavior.
Just because being a ‘bad drunk’ – as they say – runs in your family, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue on that path. You have a choice to do something.
The same could be said for binge eating as well. There are a lot of people who are just “big,” genetically.
The entire family can be overweight, but personally, I don’t think it has to be like that.
A family I know fits this example. They’re all big, but one of them had enough of that shit and committed to a lifestyle of health, nutrition, and fitness so now he’s skinny and has been for the last ten years.
A person has a choice in these matters. Especially, in the age of modern medicine.
The drug Naltrexone came to fruition back in 1963 and then was picked up by a pharmaceutical company in 1969; this is what doctors have been using lately to get people off of alcohol and opiates.
I’ve met other people who have taken it, and it works. It’s an opioid antagonist which means that it can be used to “bind to the opioid receptors” and block the receptor, which prevents the body from responding to opiates and endorphins.
It was released for the public to use since 1984, but in countries like Canada, the availability of the drug leaves something to be desired.
I thought about going to the doctor one day and asking if I could get my hands on it, but I ended up saying “fuck it,” and just quitting altogether.
Either way, if you’re struggling with a problem like this, it’s possible to stop. Your mind will come up with all kinds of rationalizations for why you can’t stop, not even because of addiction, but because your mind always wants to keep you exactly where you are.
Change is no good in the eyes of the primordial brain; safety is good; change is bad.
However, if you want to continue to drink because it doesn’t have a significant impact on you, then that’s cool.
Not everybody has the problem, but for the ones that do, it’s best just to put it down.
With that said, every once in awhile isn’t a big deal. Over time, a person becomes familiar with their triggers.
I know that If I take a sip of somebody else’s drink, it won’t do very much to me. But, If I take 2-3 shots in an hour, then it will become a problem.
Nevertheless, I’m stoked to be finally giving this up once and for all and I won’t be looking back this time.
However, If you’re not one of the people who is affected by drinking in this manner, it’s ok, I understand.
You don’t have to quit it if it doesn’t affect your life negatively.
This isn’t a public service announcement. This isn’t claiming that alcohol is somehow immoral or what have you. Some people just have this issue, and can’t fuck with alcohol like you.