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.
Tips To Stop Drinking
Every person is different, which makes it impossible to suggest a single and universally effective way to stop drinking. Harvard Medical School illuminates a variety of ways to help control your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether, some of which include:
- 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.
- 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.
According to the Mayo Clinic alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is characterized by a “pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.” It is important to note that not all people who drink alcohol go on to develop alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder is a complex disease involving physical and psychological changes that directly increase one’s risk for developing an array of adverse short- and long-term effects. Recovery from alcohol use disorder requires professional treatment.
For Information and Support
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.