Moderate Drinking Is So Not Ok
How often have you been told moderate drinking is OK? Even more so, how often have you been told it’s actually good for you? I know I’ve heard the rumours that moderate but regular beer consumption is healthy, or that drinking wine regularly helps extend your life. As a society, we love drinking. It’s part of our social culture, our identity, and extremely pervasive that it can be hard to escape from – but one thing that it’s not? Drinking, even moderately, is not OK.
Two years ago, I quit drinking entirely. If you’re considering quitting or are feeling pressured to start drinking, I hear you and I’ve been there. In today’s article I discuss my challenges with social pressure and the incredible benefits I gained when I completely quit alcohol. I’m also sharing tips on how to approach quitting.
DRINKING ALCOHOL IS NOT GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
You’ve probably heard that moderate drinking is beneficial to your long-term health; a new study is challenging this stance. Another new study concludes there’s no amount of alcohol consumption that’s safe for overall health — a finding that’s likely to surprise fans of moderate drinking.
For years, public health officials have said that drinking excessively is unhealthy and detrimental to your health, but moderate drinking (defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two per day for men) probably won’t hurt anyone. Turns out, this was false.
“The evidence is adding up that no amount of drinking is safe,” says study co-author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of global health and health metrics sciences at the University of Washington.
The health risks likely only increase the more you drink, the study found. While there may be some minor heart health benefits, alcohol is addictive and causes damage to many other organs, so the trade-off is not in our favor. Especially when you consider even light drinking is linked to health risks, including cancer. Long-time heavy alcohol consumption may have many negative effects on the drinker’s body, including impacting their cognition, emotion, reward, immune function, and energy utilization.
Did you read a claim that moderate drinking is good for your mind? Well, moderate drinking may actually be hazardous when it comes to brain health, contrary to the claims out there reporting otherwise. If you have Alzheimer, Parkinson disease, or dementia in your family (or you just value your memory and learning ability), you should consider abstaining from alcohol entirely as it may increase your risk or trigger earlier onset of these diseases.
WHY I QUIT DRINKING ALCOHOL
I used to drink once a week when I was out with friends on the weekend, but slowly the habit of drinking more began to sneak in. I remember dating someone who was bringing alcohol to the beach or pool, so I started to enjoy my glass of poison while enjoying time in the sun or at a family pool day. I’d have a glass of wine when with friends having pedicures at 11 am to feel special on our birthday. I’d sip a martini while out at a restaurant. The “only once a week” quickly became “whenever it was available”.
Alcohol is everywhere, and so easy to obtain, it seemed almost impossible to say no as everyone else was doing it. So it must be OK, right? Wrong.
Fortunately, my body started to give signals and forced me to wake up.
When I began to suffer from bad skin issues (I had shingles, acne, and other bacteria on my forehead), I learned that my immune system was extremely weak and wasn’t able to fight the inflammations. I was vegan and became gluten-free, but my adrenal fatigue and liver exhaustion were real and were not going away even with the change in diet. When you drink, your liver breaks down alcohol and removes it from your blood. However, too much alcohol in a short period can overwhelm the metabolism process and lead to fatty liver disease. In addition, alcohol increases cortisol levels. Every time you drink alcohol, your adrenals respond by releasing adrenaline and cortisol.
Essentially, alcohol triggers the same stress response, as when the body goes into fight or flight mode, and for that reason alone, it’s advisable to avoid it.
It took me 6 months to quit drinking, but once I did, oh boy, there was nothing more liberating! I felt like I had control over my life again. I was able to put all of my new found energy into my goals and my creativity. I stopped wasting my time and going out to have meaningless conversations with people who ended up not being very interesting. I always thought alcohol relaxed me and gave me confidence, but it truly doesn’t.
Here is the truth: Alcohol is robbing you from you being yourself.
It gives you a false sense of pleasure (which is actually only numbness) for a few hours and then leaves you much worse than when you started. I’m not even getting into all the ridiculous decisions, misbehaviors, overreacting, fighting, bursting out angry, lost memory that we experience while drunk.
HOW DID I QUIT DRINKING?
Here is how I quit drinking in a loving and compassionate way:
- Step One: For the first 2 months, I was still going out and drinking, but I began to limit my intake. I drank slower and more consciously with a constant awareness on how I felt while drinking. I kept returning to why I want to quit and kept the goal in mind.
- Step Two: For the next 2 months, I was still going out but I began to request a virgin drink like virgin mojito instead. I experienced some social pressure in some environments and my need not to be judged was not a joke.
- Step Three: The last 2 months were hard. I had to embrace feeling uncomfortable and feeling judged by my closest “friends” and family. During this time, I stopped hiding and was proud that I didn’t have almost any temptations anymore.
Today, not only do I not have an urge to drink but I simply don’t like anything about alcohol.
If you’re looking for actionable steps you can apply when quitting, I’ve outlined three additional ones below. These can also be applied to any cravings you have.
Write in a journal.
Suggested Journal Topic
Answer the following, being as detailed and HONEST as possible. Honesty with yourself is one of the most important things you can do:
Journal Question #1:
Why do you drink?
Now, turn the initial belief (your false truth) around and write as many ways as you can that are the opposite of your initial belief.
For example, the false truth may be: Alcohol relaxes me.
Opposite, real truth: Alcohol doesn’t relax me. Alcohol stresses me out.
Lastly, find a replacement that actually does accomplish the initial benefit. In the example above, explore things that truly do relax you, such as yoga, meditation, reading, going for a walk, etc.
Journal Question #2:
Why you don’t want to drink?
Below are a few tips that I recommend you follow:
- Have a firm intention to stop drinking, try not to drink, remove it if you can but don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t yet.
- Tell someone you trust what you are doing and why if you feel ready to do that.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out all the toxins in your system .
- Get lots of sleep.
- Get some exercise.
- Eat healthy foods (detox with beets, good for liver).
- You will crave sugar. Consume naturally fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha. Studies have shown that eating fermented foods is one of the best ways to reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods.
- Take a photo and weigh yourself.
- Stay social.
- Be positive.
Now, it’s time for commitment. In addition to all of above:
- Make a firm decision to commit to stop drinking
- Tell someone you trust what you are doing and why
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF QUITTING ALCOHOL?
For me, there are literally only benefits about letting go of this craving. Many that I didn’t expect such as:
- My sleep improved.
- I had so much more energy.
- I didn’t skip my Sunday AM yoga class (because I was no longer fighting a hangover).
- I saved money.
- PLUS I’m shingle-free!
The very best benefits are that my meditation has improved tremendously, and alcohol is no longer in my way and I’m now able to put all I’ve got into reaching my goals, bringing me closer towards my vision.
I stopped feeling the need to go out every weekend partying, expecting I’d feel good about myself. Instead, one of the many amazing things I’m doing now is I started writing more (like this blog!) and that is my happy place now. —
Here are some truth about alcohol:
- Moderate drinking is not good for you.
- Alcohol does not relax you (the opposite is the truth, it releases stress hormone).
- Alcohol numbs you (which may feel like relaxing).
- Alcohol is highly addictive.
- Alcohol disturbs your sleep.
- Alcohol exhausts you.
Alcohol consumption can affect so many systems of the body — from brain function to the immune system to the digestive system.
Please know that I understand how hard this is. If you need my support beyond this blog, book a complimentary Strategy Call with me. Don’t wait.
Here is my final advice: instead of thinking about giving something up, think about what you are going to gain: a healthier body, more money in your wallet, better relationships, and most importantly more self-respect. Your life can be so much better when it’s not run by alcohol. You are the creator of your life and it shouldn’t be never any substance.
Mantra: I have a powerful mind. I’m in control of my life. I can resist temptations and cravings. I’m happier without alcohol. I will take it one day at a time.
Online training includes free visualization and workbook.