Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down and causing changes in the complex functions of the human brain and body. As is explained by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.” Alcohol inhibits the major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, and is believed to mimic GABA’s effect in the brain by binding to GABA receptors and inhibiting neuronal signaling. This decreases electrical activity which amplifies feelings of sluggishness and lethargy. Studies have shown that alcohol increases the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system by as much as 360%. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that associates with the brain’s reward center, increasing feelings of pleasure and reducing one’s perception of pain. It is a feel-good neurotransmitter that is also involved in reinforcement. The pleasurable sensations produced by alcohol contribute to the reason why once people start drinking, they often want to carry on. Individuals may decide for any number of reasons that he or she would like to cut back or stop drinking alcohol. Harvard Medical School suggests the following tips to help control your alcohol intake and drink more responsibly:
- Write it down: make a list of the reasons to reduce your drinking (e.g., feeling healthier, sleeping better, or improving your relationships).
- Establish your drinking goal: set a limit on how much you will drink.
- Journal: for three to four weeks track and document every time you have a drink to make sure it aligns with your drinking goal.
- Don’t tempt yourself: removing the alcohol from your house can help limit your drinking.
- Drinking is not a race: remember to take your time when you drink and drink slowly.
- Never drink on an empty stomach.
- Select alcohol-free days: pick one or two days each week to abstain from drinking and be mindful of how you feel physically and emotionally without alcohol in your system on those days.
- Say no: avoid succumbing to peer pressure.
- Self-care: stay busy and integrate self-care practices into your daily routine (e.g., exercise, eat nutritiously, meditate, read a book, watch TV, paint, etc.).
- Lean on loved ones: cutting down on your drinking can be difficult, and the support of family and friends can make a world of difference.
Some may need a little additional support, and there is no shame in seeking the advice of a professional. There is a vast network of highly qualified mental health providers that have expert knowledge and extensive experience in treating individuals that wish to stop drinking alcohol or reduce the amount of their alcohol intake.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at email@example.com.