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Why Do I Feel Like I’ll Die Without a Drink ?
One of the reasons that many habitual drinkers are afraid to stop drinking, is that they have heard that people addicted to alcohol can quite literally die without a drink. For people who are physically dependent on alcohol, not drinking can be dangerous. If you are dependent and stop drinking without medical supervision you can die. But it is considerably more common for people to die because they continue drinking. The vast majority of people who need to stop drinking are not physically dependent but neurologically addicted, and they only feel like they might die without a drink.
If you are concerned that you might be physically dependent on alcohol please open this post for more information.
The mind is a powerful thing and that feeling that you NEED to drink, however powerful it may be, is most likely in your mind.
Why is that? Why does a perfectly rational, intelligent, often high-functioning adult who behaves responsibly all day, find themselves needing a drink at the end of the day like a belligerent toddler demanding candy, when just hours earlier they had sworn they would never drink again?
Alcohol acts on your brain in many different ways. In the simplest terms, it stimulates you and gives you a sense of euphoria but then quickly depresses you , which causes you to drink more hoping to return to the feeling of stimulated euphoria. It is a vicious cycle.
And then as the alcohol begins to leave your system your lizard brain/ limbic cortex/survival brain starts screaming I NEED a drink. I will DIE without a drink. a Drink will fix EVERYTHING.
The Lizard brain screams but you HEAR it’s voice as a calm rational one. You hear the solution to the problem. The rational adult voice calming the storm of stress that rages in your head.
Of course I’m going to have a glass of wine tonight. It’ll help me relax. I’ve had a hard day. I’ve earned it . Wine is good for me. Everyone drinks. Something else will most likely kill me first so I might as well enjoy life while I can
Addiction is the realignment of your brain to think it needs a chemical for survival. Like water. Like air. Your brain is an amazing, flexible instrument that is designed to learn, and drugs, are designed to manipulate it.
It’s not just the Lizard brain (the part of your brain that controls your instincts to do the very things you NEED to do to survive) that you have to override. There are also all kinds of chemical reactions going off in your brain when you drink, and your brain takes time to re-stabilize when you shut down the alcohol feed.
Serotonin impacts every part of the body, from one’s motor skills to emotions, regulating one’s mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire…..
…. there (is) a significant decrease in the function of the serotonin system, which regulates impulse control and mood, in women’s brains after just four years of problem drinking,
Serotonin system in women’s brains is damaged more readily by alcohol than that in men’s brains, study finds
By jacking up dopamine levels in your brain, alcohol tricks you into thinking that it’s actually making you feel great (or maybe just better, if you are drinking to get over something emotionally difficult). The effect is that you keep drinking to get more dopamine release, but at the same time you’re altering other brain chemicals that are enhancing feelings of depression.
Research suggests that alcohol’s effect on dopamine is more significant for men than women, which may account for men drinking more than women on average. ….” What Alcohol Really Does to Your Brain
Limbic cortex manipulation, the dopamine effect, and serotonin depletion. If those three things don’t trick you into forgetting why you knew this morning that drinking is a bad idea stir in a bit of cultural bullying. We are literally bullied by our culture to feel that we SHOULD be able to handle habitual drinking. We’re encouraged by the media to think that people should be able to drink without consequence. The social pressure to be able to “hold your liqueur” is there on social media and for many people, even at work. And, it’s not just the night time shows on television where drinking is glamorized it’s all day long.
When I was drinking …
I did not understand why I was addicted or how I was addicted or what addiction meant.
I simply felt a deep immobilizing shame at not being able to stop drinking.
I was paralyzed.
I felt tremendous guilt and self-doubt because I could not stop.
I isolated myself.
I remember how it felt
It felt like I was perpetually bullied
You drank more than you meant to last night. You wake up feeling like crap. Full of self-doubt. You tell yourself you will stop, you’ll never do it again, you’ll cut down or you’ll stop drinking and then you find yourself at the end of the day with a glass of wine in your hands feeling like it is the solution to the problem …
You’ve been bullied.
From the moment you start trying to build up the “will power” to ” Just say NO” everywhere you look, all day long, drinking is glamourized. EVERYONE else can handle it. EVERYONE else is doing it.
But you CAN stop and it is worth it.
It’s really worth learning everything you can about the science of addiction. Alcohol is a very tricky drug . Knowledge is power!
Don’t let yourself be bullied!
I will not be drinking today .
Come Join us
We’ll be your Cornermen
More Reading :
Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable – Learning New in Sobriety
Alcohol Deprivation Blues – Understanding and Managing the Dopamine Dip in Early Sobriety
Alcohol, Brain Chemistry, Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity
Stimulant and sedative effects of alcohol.
Withdrawal Symptoms from Day 1 to 30 and beyond
Learning Self-Care in Early Sobriety
Alcohol sugar cravings (managing them) and the whole Gut-Brain health connection thing.
The ‘witching hour’ and hypoglycemia
Thoughts on Self Care and Liver Cleansing
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us.
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
There is no shame in becoming addicted but the addiction itself will isolate you with shame. Shame is the food addiction feeds on, STARVE IT. Feed yourself with Community and Knowledge .
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Boozemusings is a lifestyle blog and the BOOM Community is a peer support group. We are NOT trained addiction counselors but simply a community of people who have overcome or are overcoming alcohol issues. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor does anything on this website create a physician/patient relationship. If you require medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, please consult your physician.