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    #16
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    Micro on why this is hard
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    Everyone else's responses have been awesome and thought provoking.

    I'm a scientist by degree and perspective, so I have attributed the "why" of my difficulty abstaining or moderating as two scientific parts.

    First, habit. That's proven science.
    It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a "habit loop," which is a three-part process. First, there's a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. Then there's the routine, which is the behavior itself. The third step is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the "habit loop" in the future. Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts. The brain starts working less and less. The brain can almost completely shut down. ... And this is a real advantage, because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else.
    https://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/14719...-to-break-them


    You can change your habits. It is work, but it is doable.

    Second, biochemical changes to your brain and body caused by alcohol. More proven science.
    Evidence shows that heavy alcohol use modifies the structure and physiology of the brain. To function normally, the brain must maintain a careful balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters—small molecules involved in the brain’s communication system that ultimately help regulate the body’s function and behavior. Just as a heavy weight can tip a scale, alcohol intoxication can alter the delicate balance among different types of neurotransmitter chemicals and can lead to drowsiness, loss of coordination, and euphoria—hallmarks of alcohol intoxication. Remarkably, with ongoing exposure to alcohol, the brain starts to adapt to these chemical changes. When alcohol is present in the brain for long periods—as with long-term heavy drinking—the brain seeks to compensate for its effects. To restore a balanced state, the function of certain neurotransmitters begins to change so that the brain can perform more normally in the presence of alcohol. These long-term chemical changes are believed to be responsible for the harmful effects of alcohol, such as alcohol dependence and depression.
    https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa77/aa77.htm


    You can help restore your brain chemistry.

    Alcohol wreaks havoc with various vitamins, minerals, and chemicals in the brain. One strategy to combat these effects is to supplement. I took a bunch the first 6 months when I was drinking less, mostly the following.

    Multivitamin/Multimineral

    B-Vitamins

    Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin D3

    Magnesium

    Omega-3 Oil

    5-HTP

    There are others. See: https://fit-recovery.com/alcohol-wit...etox-recovery/

    Best -

    Micro

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      #17
      Christy Dee on buckling up:

      I am a frequent flier and hardy traveler. An airplane ride used to mean I looked forward to a boozy pre-game at the airport bar, refueling in-flight and an alcohol-soaked vacation thereafter. After the pandemic restrictions waned a bit, I was able to get myself on a plane (with much anxiety) and out to a different state. As I waited in line, sober and impatient to be screened, I mused that getting through airport security was much like getting through a situation where there was alcohol involved. After 9/11 the world changed, and we now know that whenever we get on a plane, we must go through certain security steps to fly for the safety of the order. Whether I like it or not, as a result, I no longer wear complicated shoes, belts, or bring items with me that I know are going to be potentially problematic and hang me up in line. I know through experience that there are hoops to jump through, and I purposefully make it easier for myself to get through security, for the safety of the order. The same now goes for deciding in abstinence not to drink in social situations and for cravings management. When I go to a party or any other type of gathering, I plan ahead to make it easier.
      Parties and social gatherings have been my nemesis in the past, so I know I must use all the tools available to make it through the line efficiently. That means first envisioning the successful takeoff in my mind, then choosing ahead the inflight option of club soda, and keeping my seatbelt securely fastened in the event of turbulence. Flight attendants give us instructions in case of emergency, and I have my own list on my iPhone in case of emergency that I can refer to. Having a plan and looking ahead to Tomorrow Me can be immensely helpful in planning any journey. It’s weird, but I practiced saying things like “club soda, please”, “I’m not drinking tonight,” or “no thanks, I’m driving.” You know what? They rolled off my tongue, and nobody batted an eye! Successfully abstaining at the end of a party always feels like the relief of a smooth landing.

      The same holds true for parties, social gatherings, or anywhere you feel yourself tempted. Looking ahead to the booze-free journey and practicing in your head or to your mirror about how you will respond to situations can be helpful. Removing barriers to your sobriety in advance can help you breeze through your own personal security line and become the pilot of your life. For me, this means bringing NA beer, kombucha, and fizzy water. It means setting a time limit for how long I will be there, purposefully engaging other non-drinkers, being a DD or even escaping to the bathroom if a craving washes over me. It means constructing firm barriers like “no thank you,” “not tonight, I’m good,” and “I have a fizzy drink, thanks!“ Will there be turbulence? Almost certainly. But by clicking my seatbelt in this way with resolve, I can ensure that I will be safer during the bumpy ride. In case of emergency, my iPhone tells me to repeat a favored mantra or three, dial a sober friend, inhale some lavender essential oil, make relaxing tea, eat some chocolate, and leave the disaster scene immediately.

      This vacation was the first I’d ever taken without being completely sauced, and I was able to enjoy the people, the sunrise, ocean and beach, music, food, and be fully present for the entire flight, even when it was a little scary. I felt like I was soaring way above the clouds on my own, and it was exhilarating! Triggers are hard, and saying no is harder, but by practicing some security measures in advance, we can ensure a safe and expedient journey for the good of the order.
      Dryuary (or any month) is a great time to take a booze-free trip, so buckle up and enjoy your flight!

      Yours truly in smooth airspace or turbulent times,

      Christy Dee
      ~ Creating a life I don't need to escape from ~

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