Give up drinking without giving up drinking!
Have you noticed how we are all being described as addicts, alcoholics, out of control or problem drinkers because we are having the odd glass of wine from time to time?
Confusing isn’t it…
Not really surprising that many of us just surrender to the old Spanish maxim, que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.
We give up; there is just too much ‘stuff’ out there, and anyway ‘someone’ will change the rules next week, so I’ll wait until then!
This overload of often contradictory information is leading to a ‘paralysis’ of willpower. We are fed up with being made to feel either victims of some grand conspiracy or guilty that almost everything we do is ultimately putting an intolerable burden on the NHS and it’s all our fault.
Well, firstly let me suggest it is not all your fault!
There is a reason why potentially the majority of us drink a little more alcohol than the experts have now decided is good for us.
Of course, we have been confused by all the contradictory evidence. However, we have listened, but we have been confused by the ideas of the past suggesting a couple of glasses of wine, or a couple of cans of beer are okay.
However, we are all really good at adding on an extra glass or can or so, because usually, all these ‘healthcare warnings are very conservative, aren’t they’. So the baseline becomes more than a little eroded.
Then there is the ‘may as well finish the bottle/4 pack’ incentive, followed closely by helpful partners/friends who top up your glass without you even knowing!
You can see how ‘events’ are beginning to conspire against you…
The next steps which take place, happen without you realising it, which, by definition, makes them a lot more serious. I hope you’re beginning to get the idea of ‘its not your fault’.
What are these things that are happening without us realising?
Essentially what we are doing is developing a strong pattern of behaviour, simply by repetition. What many people will call a ‘habit’, psychologists identify this as a conditional response.
That means that in certain situations, at certain times, with certain people, in certain places, you ‘feel’ as if having a drink is a good idea. Almost, you may feel you need to have a drink, to reward yourself, to relax, as an aperitif or for any other reason.
If this sounds familiar, then you are on the pathway to having a problem…
This problem is relatively straightforward to solve at this time, with some proper guidance and helpful advice.
Now, part of the problem is that usually at this stage on the pathway you most probably don’t think you have a problem, or even the potential start of a problem, so you continue perhaps drinking just a little bit more and a little bit more.
Now, alcohol is just like any other substance that people begin to use habitually. You just need a little bit more and a little bit more to have the same physiological and psychological effect, that you had when you started drinking. Maybe one glass of wine would give you quite a ‘hit’ when you first started drinking. This gradual incrementality is, you can imagine, also a problem.
These patterns of behaviour are becoming strengthened and reinforced by our behaviour.
You will be aware that after alcohol our judgement becomes less prudent and our behaviour less inhibited. So by now the problem begins to escalate, that’s when things start to get complicated because not only does alcohol cause serious physical health concerns (see notes at the end of this article), but alcohol causes severe mental health problems as well. I have listed these at the end of this article.
However, some of these problems actually make your drinking problem worse. Let me give you a couple of examples:-
- People who drink too much may get depression, people who are depressed drink to relieve their depression
- People who drink too much get anxiety, people with anxiety drink more to relieve their anxiety.
By this time we are well down the path…
I guess you can see how things just escalate, how patterns of behaviour become entrenched, and why it becomes difficult to change. But unfortunately, that’s not the whole story.
Lets just do a quick recap.
Over time, both the frequency and volume of drinking increased. You are finding it difficult to get the same positive effect from the drinking that you once enjoyed. You have begun to realise that there are other problems that you are experiencing, you’re not sure whether they are related to your alcohol consumption, and you are a little worried.
Now, when is a problem really a problem?
There are 10 easy questions which, if you answer honestly, will help you to make a decision. By the way, these are not questions for testing for alcoholism.
- Is the drinking disrupting or damaging your recreational pursuits?
- Is you drinking disrupting or damaging your employment?
- Is your drinking affecting your health?
- Have other people noticed or commented on your drinking?
- Is your drinking damaging or disrupting your family life?
- Is your drinking negatively affecting your mood, e.g., sad, anxious, depressed or angry?
- Are you drinking regularly week on week, more than the medically recommended limits?
- Have you tried to, but not succeeded in, reducing/limiting your drinking?
- If you are challenged on your alcohol consumption by family or friends, do you sometimes lie to avoid embarrassment?
- Do you think you should drink less?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then maybe it would be a good idea to reflect on your patterns of behaviour and consider whether now would be a good time to consider changing.
There are other very good reasons why people delay or don’t get started on changing. In other words, why essentially you could still argue its not their fault!
We have already mentioned the conditioned response issue, which essentially is your subconscious mind learning to replicate your behaviour based on your existing behaviour. The subconscious learns from what you do, as opposed to what you say you want to do.
If your subconscious doesn’t thwart your ideas for change, then your conscious will try to disrupt it as well, by introducing to you, under a cloak of secrecy, what we call “cognitive bias”, which are little tricks to help you believe all is well.
In many ways, these ‘bias’ help us get through our daily lives, with less stress and worry. Let me clarify. Nearly everyone is aware of the long-term effects of alcohol on their health, but does that stop you from drinking alcohol? Of course not, because we can discount things that may/will happen in many years time as we are more concerned with the present than the future.
Secondly, we are inclined to believe that we are ‘special’, meaning that although our family has a history of heart-related problems, we are going to be ok, so don’t worry about drinking, somehow it won’t be a problem for you.
By the way, we usually rationalise why we think this way, by suggesting to ourselves that:-
- We drink less or differently from family members
- That we are really quite fit or we exercise regularly
- We eat healthily
- We drink water with our wine
- Or any excuse that justifies our behaviour, you get the idea.
This is something that we all do.
So now we are trying to change, but our conscious and subconscious minds are, at worst, in opposition to our plans and, at best, apathetic, just not interested.
So, what can you do?
It’s easier than you think. Over the last 14 years, we have helped hundreds of people to resolve those types of problems using hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy has now become an established part of helping people to change patterns of behaviour. It is recognised by the BMA and the DoH (Department of Health); there is a regulatory framework in place that ultimately is overseen by the same authority that oversees and reviews the performance of the Regulators of Doctors and Dentists, and other healthcare professionals.
Hypnotherapy is part of the Accredited register that has been rigorously assessed by the Professional Standards Authority. So if you consult a CNHC Registered therapist, you are in ‘safe hands’.
Hypnosis is simply a way of communicating with your subconscious mind by inducing a comfortable ‘trance state’.
In hypnosis, you will not be required to say anything or do anything; the only requirement is to relax and listen to your hypnotherapist, who will guide you through a journey of awareness.
That journey will be visualising what will happen if you combine this pattern of drinking behaviour and what will happen when you change.
We will also help you to focus your subconscious mind on a decision-making process that enables you to make the right/appropriate decision when you are in all those old situations in which you used to drink when now you no longer wish to do so.
It is very important to understand that you will still be able to drink on those other special situations with family and friends and on special occasions that we all enjoy.
This change should be easy and effortless.
If you think you would like some help with your drinking, visit our main problem behaviour page or give us a call and have a chat.
*Most people simply notice that they didn’t have a drink in those old situations where it was inappropriate, rather than consciously thinking beforehand that they shouldn’t.