EP #108

Alcohol Doesn't Cause Your Drinking

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this episode of the Alcohol Minimalist podcast, host Molly Watts challenges the narrative that blames alcohol for drinking habits, emphasizing individual responsibility and the importance of mindful consumption. Discussing the concept of “Sober October,” Molly encourages listeners to set their own goals and not let occasional drinking off-plan hinder their progress. She critiques the idea of complete abstinence as the only measure of success, highlighting the significance of personal growth and self-reflection in the process. Addressing physical dependence and addiction, Molly underscores the majority of excessive drinkers are not alcoholics or physically dependent, according to research from the CDC. She stresses the significance of low-risk limits and the dynamic nature of alcohol reactions in the body. Molly offers practical advice on planning for alcohol consumption, encouraging listeners to be mindful and responsible. She invites listeners to join her upcoming course and group coaching call to continue their journey towards a peaceful relationship with alcohol.

Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October, you can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got grises I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners. And it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Hello, and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from Oh, it’s it’s a dry, Oregon. It’s a cold Oregon, but it’s been dry and clear the last couple of days. I actually love these winter mornings when it is dry and clear. I don’t mind cold. I just don’t like wet and soggy and dirt gray. Who can blame me right? But right now it’s dry. Which brings me to dry weary. It’s the last week it’s the last six days. How are we doing? I really want to encourage you to stick with it. Especially during this last weekend. I shared on the podcast last year that the last Saturday of the month, the one that’s ahead of us if you are listening to this podcast, when it drops on Wednesday, January 25. If you’re listening to it, then the weekend ahead in January What 28th 29th Right? That’s the one that is the most popular day to drink according to alcohol change UK, which is the organization credited with launching dry January. It’s that last Saturday of the month. That is the one that most of us who are going to will throw in the towel and give up on their dry weary goals. Now why is this the case? Well, I will tell you what isn’t happening. And this is what the subject of this episode is really going to be about. What is not happening is that alcohol is causing you to drink. Now, I want you to just hold on to that for a minute. And I want you to ask yourself is one of the things that you fundamentally believe about alcohol? Is that because it’s an addictive drug, which we all know, right? Do you believe that because that’s the case, it causes you to drink, especially those of you that have spent the last 25 days being alcohol free? Is alcohol, what’s making you going to make you drink again, or drink this weekend? We’re going to break it down because I think this story this narrative is so much more pervasive than most of us realize. And I also think it’s one of those stories that fundamentally stops people from starting to change their relationship with alcohol. And it is my hope that for those of you who are participating in dry weary or one you weary or damp January, that you will use your experience from this month as a launch pad for the rest of your life. Because that’s what I want for you. I want an alcohol, minimalist lifestyle for the rest of your life. A peaceful relationship with alcohol for the rest of your life. So back to this coming weekend. This is when it’s possible that your brain is going to start telling you all the good stories, right? That really fuel your desire to drink. You know, the one like you’ve been really, really good, aka you deserve a drink, or 27 days is good enough, it’s almost a whole month, and a few days doesn’t really matter. Or maybe your brain will be telling you how good it’s going to taste to have that glass of wine. All of these thoughts are fueling the feeling of desire, right. And that is what I want you to pay attention to. Because if you’ve succeeded in being alcohol free for the last 25 days, then this is really important for you to acknowledge that these stories are what is fueling your desire to drink, not the alcohol itself, right? I want to tell you, if you make it to the end of January without drinking anything, you are likely in the minority estimates for people who say alcohol free for the full 31 days put that number between 19 and 55%. Now that’s a pretty wide variance right? But regardless, even if we believe the highest 55% That means that almost half of all participants didn’t achieve full 31 days alcohol free. My guesstimate is probably about a third of the people that launch into dry erase stick to dry, weary for a full 31 days alcohol free. I don’t know why they that it just that’s my that’s my own sense. And notice I’m not using the word success and failure because if you’ve been doing dry January, the way I talk about it, regardless of whether or not you’ve successfully make it to 31 days alcohol free, the most important piece is what you are making it mean if you don’t, are you using the decision to drink Off Plan as an excuse or as proof that you cannot change. It’s not the act of drinking during January that you rails you. It’s what you decide to make it mean. Right. So let’s not allow any offline drinking make it mean that we can’t create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. As we transition out of this 31 day period, as we decide to incorporate alcohol back into our lives or not, I want you to acknowledge that alcohol itself isn’t the problem. Alcohol isn’t causing that desire. If you’ve been alcohol free for even three days, alcohol has left your system. Alcohol can stay in your system between six to 72 hours and in most cases, in most cases, depending on the detection test that is used. Alcohol detection tests can measure alcohol in the blood for up to six hours on the breath for 12 to 24 hours and in urine for 12 to 24 hours 72 or more hours with more advanced detection methods. And in the hair for up to 90 days. The half life of alcohol is between four to five hours. All right. So again, that’s just sciency stuff. But if you’ve been sticking to an extended period of time here during dry weary bottom line is there’s no alcohol in my system. I don’t know I haven’t you know, I haven’t had any alcohol during dry weary. I can 100% know that I don’t have any alcohol left in my system. Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve had a long standing habit of drinking, it’s quite possible that the queue of seeing a drink poured will seem as though it causes the desire to drink. But even though it feels like it happens automatically when you’re seeing the drink poured, as you know from listening to this podcast, it’s not the circumstance. The drink being poured that causes your desire. There are thoughts there and though they may be unconscious, you have thoughts about alcohol being poured that fuel your desire. Hey everyone, just a quick break to talk with you about sunny side. Now you’ve heard me mentioned Sunnyside many times before you’ve heard me talk with Nick and E and the founders of Sunnyside and I just want to share with you why I am so passionate about this company. They are way more than just a drink tracking app. They are really about helping people create a mindful relationship with alcohol and they stand for a life that is about having more, not less. Right. There are more rested mornings more days when you’re feeling your absolute best when you have more energy and positivity. Sunnyside is not there to tell you to never go out to never drink but they are there to help you enjoy your life and to wake up and be ready to be your shining best. It is not an all or nothing approach. It is friendly, it is approachable, and it is absolutely judgment free. They want to be a solution that fits into your unique lifestyle. And I think that’s exactly what they’ve created. You can register for a free 15 day trial, go to www.sunnyside.co/minimalist. To get started. That’s www.sunnyside.co/minimalist to try Sunnyside today this idea that alcohol is to blame for your drinking habits is something that’s fueled by AAA and by the recovery industry. And even sober communities like this naked mind and others tend to drive this narrative. And I want to discuss why I believe it’s not helpful, nor is it really even accurate to think that way. But before we get going, I want to remind you that this podcast is not intended for people with severe alcohol use disorder, or anyone that is experiencing symptoms of physical dependence. When I say that alcohol is not causing your drinking, I want to make it clear that I know that alcohol, the drug is highly addictive. When you develop an addiction to any drug, or alcohol included, changes your brain chemistry and your body and therefore can cause right, a need for alcohol. Here is a definition of physical dependence, a condition in which a person takes a drug over time and unpleasant physical symptoms occur if the drug is suddenly stopped, or taken in smaller doses. So you might be asking also, what’s the difference between addiction and physical dependence? And here’s a statement that I would agree with when the symptoms of mental and physical dependence are apparent, and addiction is usually present. However, the main characteristic that distinguishes addiction from dependence is the combination of mental and physical dependence with uncontrollable behavior in obtaining and using a substance. All right, so we’ve got that out of the way. Yes, alcohol is addictive. And yes, if you drink enough, long enough, you and I mean, any of us, the general you are at risk of developing both physical dependence and addiction. And if that is you, if you have developed a physical dependence or addiction, please seek professional help. This podcast is not intended for you. As another reminder, I also want to remind you that according to a 2014 study, jointly published by the SHA, which is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the CDC, nine out of 10, nine out of 10 excessive drinkers were not alcoholics, nor were they physically dependent. Okay. The vast majority of people who are listening to this podcast even those of you who are binge drinkers, who are drinking excessively, you are not physically dependent, and you are most likely not addicted either. From that study. Alcohol Dependence is a chronic medical condition that typically includes a current or past history of excessive drinking, a strong craving for alcohol continued use despite repeated problems with drinking and an inability to control alcohol consumption. This study shows that contrary to popular opinion, most people who drink too much are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics. This According to Robert Brewer, MD, the alcohol program lead at the CDC and one of the report’s authors. All right. So I think it’s important to separate out those facts from the narrative that some of us believe about alcohol. Because when we believe alcohol is to blame the only noun stay with me when we believe that alcohol is to blame for our drinking. The only answer really is to stop drinking, right? The only way to change if we believe that alcohol is the problem is to remove the cause is to remove the problem. We are powerless to change if we believe that alcohol is to blame because alcohol is powerful. Do you see how those ideas are intertwined? If you allow yourself to believe that your negative drinking habits are caused by alcohol itself, because alcohol is an addictive drug, then the only real answer is to stop drinking altogether. And for many people, that feels like something they cannot do, so they throw in the towel on trying to change And that’s why I think it is an issue when this narrative is driven, because not only does it make us feel less powerful, it’s not accurate. And it’s dangerous, because it means that most people who are wanting to change, don’t even start to try this process because they believe they can’t. So some of you may be thinking, I can believe this about alcohol, and I haven’t been drinking anything. But when I start drinking, it’s definitely the alcohol that causes me to keep drinking. Right? Who else who was thinking that out there? I know you are it that you’re thinking I get buzzed, and I just want to keep drinking? Well, of course, there is no arguing with the impact of alcohol on your neuro chemistry, alcohol does immediately impact your prefrontal cortex. And with the first drink with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 to 0.055%. The brain experiences a relaxed, altered mood, it feels a little warmer, and you may make poor judgments. There is no denying that alcohol by its very design, makes it harder to use your brain’s decision making abilities. But I just want to ask you, have you ever been drinking, maybe even had 345 drinks? And decided to stop? Has that ever happened? Well, I know it has. I know it has because you’re here listening, you stopped drinking, you decided with your beautiful, brilliant human and altered brain that you were done drinking. So if you’re capable of deciding to stop drinking, even when you’ve been drinking alcohol, then it follows that it’s your brain. That is also what’s choosing to start drinking or to keep drinking too, right? Yes, alcohol impacts your brain. But until you’re unconscious, asleep are hopefully not passed out. You still have the power, you are not power less. Alcohol is not all powerful. If you’ve listened to this show, for any length of time, you should know some of these basics. The safest amount of alcohol to consume is zero. Okay, not ever going to tell you anything otherwise. Number two, there is no perceived health benefit of alcohol that supports adding alcohol to your life if you’re not already drinking. So I’ve talked about it multiple times on the podcast, you can go back and find all the many episodes on some of the science of of how the science is derived and what the science means. But let’s just throw that notion that we’re doing something good for ourselves right out the window. Number three low risk limits that I talk about all the time they are established, and they’re always in the shownotes. Folks, if you have any questions about what low risk limits are, they are in my show notes always. They are established as a way of reducing the harm potential that alcohol presents for anyone who consumes it. They are not a magic guideline. They are literally designed to help you avoid developing alcohol use disorder. That’s what they’re there for. Because the safest mound, the only safe amount is zero, right. So this is a harm mitigation situation with low risk limits. And number four, every time we drink, our reaction to alcohol is dynamic. It’s like our own personal petri dish. I say it all the time, and what we eat, what we have eaten or not eaten, how much we’ve slept, how much stress we are under, how hot it is in the room, how old we are our gender, our weight, how much alcohol we’ve consumed on a regular basis. All of these things impact our body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. And our ability to metabolize alcohol is directly related to our blood alcohol content. So it’s important, all right. And understanding all of this means that as we move out of dry you Arey, you’re going to want to have a plan, as I always do, for how you’re going to include alcohol in your life. Now, I don’t blame alcohol for what it is. Right? It’s a it’s a drug to chemical. I know that. But it doesn’t cause me to drink. I enjoy it in very minimal amounts. And I’m willing and capable of accepting those risks. I know from working with hundreds of people and hearing from hundreds more, that there are people doing this work and they are changing their drinking habits. Not just for 31 days but for For the rest of their lives, and they are doing it without having to claim themselves as in recovery or sober or anything else. They are not having to commit to a lifetime of being alcohol free. Because they don’t believe that alcohol has control. They believe that they do. And they are making those decisions and they’re changing their lives because of it. I’m getting ready to open step one again for a February 10 Start. And if you’d like to learn more about it, I would love to have you come visit me at www dot Molly watts.com/step. One that’s Ste p o n e altogether. I’ve created a short video that explains exactly what you get. The one thing I want you to hear right now is that I’m here for you for the rest of your life. Access to step one is $249 one time for the rest of your life. In 2023. I’m doing group coaching calls inside of step one on the first Saturday of every month, and that will include Saturday, February 4. So even though the course isn’t starting until the 10th, if you sign up before the fourth, you can join that group coaching call. So go to www dot Molly watts.com/step. One and check out the information. I will put the link in the show notes. But I would love to help you take whatever momentum you have coming out of January and use it to create this peaceful relationship of alcohol that I talk about all the time. I want you to become hashtag alcohol minimalist with me. One last word of encouragement for those of you that are doing the dry weary the full dry weary. All right. Stick with me. Stick with your dry weary plans over this last weekend if you have them. And let’s finish strong. Let’s take this momentum and launch ourselves into February. I want to help you create a peaceful relationship with alcohol and I’m here to help you do it together. Until next time, my friends, choose peace. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com