Overdrinking: Numbers, Neuroscience & A Note to Self
In this episode, Molly shares insights from her recent experiences, including a vacation that challenged her alcohol-related habits. She underscores the importance of understanding the science behind alcohol consumption, emphasizing the need to pay attention to numbers and moderate alcohol intake. Molly discusses her perspective on moderation, differentiating it from being an “alcohol minimalist,” and emphasizes the role of both thought work and numerical awareness in achieving a balanced relationship with alcohol. The episode delves into the benefits of tracking alcohol numbers, drawing on Dr. David Nutt’s book, “Drink: The New Science of Alcohol and Your Health,” which explores the impact of varying alcohol consumption levels on life expectancy. Molly encourages listeners to embrace the combination of science and mindset shifts to create lasting change in their drinking habits.
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. Well hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast. With me your host Molly Watts coming to you from an absolutely soggy Oregon. It is raining cats and dogs. It seems to always do this on Halloween I feel so it is Halloween Happy Halloween, even though by the time you’re listening to this Halloween is in the past. But today is Halloween when I am recording and it’s just been raining and those poor trick or treaters wet. At least it wasn’t windy or cold it was just kind of wet. So anyhow, welcome to the podcast. I have a prize winner this week. And if you would like to be entered into a drawing for some alcohol, minimalist swag, all you got to do is go leave a review of this podcast or of the book breaking the bottle legacy. You can find the book anywhere you pick up ebooks or on Amazon. Of course, you can find this podcast and leave a review of this podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts, as well as on YouTube. And you can leave a review on YouTube. So any place that you leave a review is going to get you entered into this drawing. And this week’s winner is Heather Medicare. Heather says Thank goodness, there’s a smart no nonsense way to deal with our societal use of alcohol and the role it plays in our lives without a 12 step program. Thank you. Make sure you take the time to listen to just one episode. And you will know for sure that you can do this. Well thank you, Heather, Heather Medicare, please email me Molly at Molly watts, let me know who you are. And I will send you out some alcohol, minimalist swag. And also I just want to remind you that leaving reviews is important. I saw this on social media. And it really resonated with me. It says every time you leave a positive review for an author, you become the little voice that whispers in her ear. Don’t you quit. So give a review to the authors you love. It doesn’t have to be long just say you enjoyed their books. So whether it’s a book or a podcast, I’m an author, I’m a content creator. And your reviews go so far in helping me stay motivated and encouraged because you know, it’s gonna be hard work sometimes putting your voice out there in the world. And not everybody agrees with you and you get people that are, you know, telling you you’re wrong and that’s okay. I am passionate about what I’m doing. I am I believe in what I’m doing and I feel strong about it but your positive reviews and your positive words. Not only do they help other people who are looking for this kind of content find us but they absolutely are the voice that is that whisper in my ear that tells me to not Quit what I am doing so, and hey, you might get some outcome analyst swag to boot. So please do that. And you could be registered to win as well. And thank you to Heather, or your kind review. This week’s episode, I’m calling this episode over drinking by the numbers neuro chemistry, and a note to self. You know, it’s a little bit of an odd title. It was inspired by a few things. First of all, my personal experience with more sober October. It was inspired by a podcast episode that I was listening to last week. And it was inspired by my fundamental beliefs about what being an alcohol minimalist means, and how it differs, in my opinion from moderation. So, let’s get into it. So as I said, as I record this, it’s October 31, and the end of quote, unquote, more sober October, which is what I was aiming for. And for me, I set my intentions for five alcohol free days each week. And then my standard one alcohol free weekend per month. What I forgot about when I was setting, my intention was that we had rescheduled a vacation, and it was happening right in the middle of the month. And over a long weekend, including a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. And once I remembered that, I realized that I would likely want to adjust that initial plan, which is no problem because as someone who has a truly peaceful relationship with alcohol now, I know that I can include alcohol or not. And being on vacation, I knew that I would, it would probably mean more dining out and I wanted the option to enjoy a drink if I wanted to. So I planned ahead for that. So I you know, I changed my initial plans for more sober October. What I didn’t anticipate was how not having multiple alcohol free days in my week, which, you know, I rarely have anymore, where I don’t have multiple alcohol free days, I didn’t anticipate how that would impact me. Regardless of whether I’m doing more sober October or not. I typically have three to four alcohol free days or week, and I rarely drink more than two days in a row. Now, because of the timing of the vacation, I ended up stringing together five days of drinking. Now, none of the days were excessive, and two of them were only one pint of beer. But on day six, when we returned, I could really feel my neuro chemistry as it worked its way back to homeostasis, and the increased anxiety. slight depression and fatigue was absolutely notable to me. And it would be easy for me to look at the overall numbers and conclude that I successfully moderated and from a strict and numbers perspective, I did. I certainly didn’t over drink on any occasion based on blood alcohol content numbers, or on the low risk numbers that I Istat that I use in terms of binge drinking definitions. And if you’re not familiar with those low risk guidelines, they are always included in my show notes so you can always find them there. And certainly in comparison to previous trips I used to make to Las Vegas where overdrinking was the norm. Alcohol was definitely a minimal part of my trip. But by not including alcohol free days, immediately before I went, I set myself up for experiencing a sort of anxiety that I haven’t felt in a long time. And what I learned from the experiences that one of the numbers that has become most important in my life, as an alcohol minimalist is stringing together multiple alcohol free days. Those alcohol free days are important because they certainly reinforce the important thought work that I do in my daily life to get the results that I have in my life, but they are also important for my physical brain and for my sleep. And it’s also why paying attention to the numbers is something that I embrace as being part of my alcohol minimalist life. Now, I was listening to a podcast last week, Rachel hearts and if you’ve listened to Rachel’s, take a break podcast. I know many of you that listen to me Listen to Rachel, I certainly listen to Rachel. Her most recent podcast on the question of whether moderation is possible and It’s a question that we both get a lot people want to know if moderation is possible for them. And she was talking about that. And what she said was the fact that most people are usually focused on when they asked that question, they’re focused on the number of drinks they can stick to. So we are trained to believe that moderation is all about the number, right about wanting to avoid too high of a number that would be considered over drinking. And ultimately, what Rachel was saying, that is that this kind of moderation is actually not an effective way to moderate. And her point was well taken, because if we only focus on a number to stick to, or how much other people are drinking, or what the CDC or the NIH a say the guidelines are, we are, in essence, no longer paying attention to our personal experience with alcohol. This kind of moderation is also focused on the action of drinking and not really understanding the why behind it’s happening. And if you don’t do the work of understanding, number one, what you’re trying to solve by you’re drinking and number two, how your thoughts and feelings are driving your actions. You may succeed on willpower for a while, but ultimately, it’s not sustainable change. Now, Rachel gave an illustration if you’re constantly believing that you need alcohol to help you relax and unwind. And typically, that means a couple of drinks. And what happens when you have a really stressful day and extraordinary out of the norm, high level stress day, suddenly two drinks doesn’t sound like enough to solve it, right? So what on that day, you’ll just go ahead and have four. That’s why just putting a number on moderating doesn’t really make sense. And from that perspective, I really appreciate Rachel’s message because for me, learning how my thoughts are actually driving my desire to drink was critical to helping me change my drinking habits. But I have to diverge from Rachel’s message here just a bit, because what was equally important for me was learning the science around alcohol, which absolutely meant and means paying attention to numbers. It’s not one or the other. For me. It’s a combination of both the thought work and the numbers that helped me create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. It’s why this podcast has always focused on and uses science to guide us in our decisions and to help us educate our brain so that we understand and can challenge some of the stories that we’ve held on to regarding alcohol. Hey, all just a quick break in the show to talk with you for a minute about Sunnyside. It’s fall and it’s time for tailgaters and holiday parties on the horizon. There is never a better time than right now, to put a mindful plan into place. And Sunnyside is my recommendation for how you can really use a tool that provides a way to track your drinks, measure your progress, and really uses proven behavior change techniques to create lasting habit change. The thing is, you can reduce your drinking by 30% in the first 30 days with Sunnyside and you can save over $50 a month, cut out 2500 calories out of your diet. And these are just based on average results. I know that people that I talk to and people that I work with are using sunny side and getting great results. If you’d like to find out if it will work for you. Go to www dot Sunny side.co/minimalist To get started on a free 15 day trial today. If you are focused on the numbers, right, and if you’re only focused on the numbers, you might be able to moderate with willpower, but you will never achieve the peaceful part of becoming an alcohol minimalist. And likewise if you don’t pay attention to the numbers. Even when you do the thought work. You can find yourself in a situation like I did, which reminded me that the numbers in this case the number of alcohol free days I have or the numbers of days that I include alcohol consecutively matter to me and matter to my peaceful relationship with alcohol. In his book drink the new science of alcohol and your health Dr. David Nutt talks about knowing your alcohol numbers, just like we know other important numbers in our lives, it’s not stressful, it’s not daunting. It’s just a number that, you know, he explains that the number is really an individual decision based on our own risk tolerance. But with all drugs, of which alcohol is the most widely consumed, used, legal drug, less is always going to be better in terms of negative consequences. Because there are no known safe levels of alcohol. We’ve covered that many times on the podcast. So if you’re going to include it in your lives, and you want to keep the risks inherently low, you will be wanting to stick to those low risk limits. Again, always in the show notes, you can always find what those low risk limits are. He says in the book, quote, We are told by the US government that safe drinking levels are less than one standard drink per day for women, and two, for men. This limit isn’t arbitrary. It was established by a group of experts based on all the evidence available evidence, so it’s very solid. But did you know this if you stick to these levels, your risk of dying due to an alcohol related condition is around or a little under 1%. The guidelines explained that this level of risk is comparable to other regular risks, such as driving 1% is the level of risk the experts think is acceptable. Now, again, unquote. He also says quote, when it comes to all drugs, including alcohol, and in fact, all risky activities, less is always safer. Looking at the statistics, if you want to maximize your life, the rule would be to not drink a drop. The same goes for if you want to maximize your health, don’t drink at all, because there are no health benefits to it. But if you want the sociability benefits that alcohol brings, it’s a different story. In that case, you need to decide what risks do you want to accept, balanced out with pleasure you gain, the risks are determined by how old you are your sex, your genetics, but most of all, how much you drink and how often you drink, what you can do is to work out the dose that gives you the best fun, but with reasonable amount of risk. In your opinion. It’s not a one size fits all rule. And it really is your call and vote that is directly from Greek, the new science of alcohol and your health. So he says there is very much a numbers oriented right approach to alcohol. And if you are currently drinking far more than these recommended limits, then you will benefit greatly from reducing your intake. In Dr. Nets book, he shares graphs and data on what impact certain levels of alcohol consumption mean for life expectancy. And it’s a calculation based on averages, which means that there’s no guarantee it will apply exactly to you. But it’s useful to know or at least you gives you some proportion to the amount of risk you are taking. You’ll see that the more you drink, the much worse it gets because of the exponential nature of the health harms of alcohol. That is the harm increases much faster than the amount you’re drinking. And I will link a in the show notes to that graph in the book so that you can see it. But what it says is basically it like this, it’s based on intake per week, so 10 standard drinks per week and your life is shortened by 0.4 years. If your intake per week is 15 standard drinks, your life is shortened by 0.8 years. If your intake is 25 standard drinks per week, which is basically half a bottle of wine per day, your life is shortened by two years. If your intake per week is 50 standard drinks or one bottle of wine per day, your life is shortened by seven years. So from half a bottle to a bottle per day we jumped from two years to seven years shorter life expectancy. And if you’re drinking 100 standard drinks or two bottles of wine per day, your life is shortened by 21 years. So our numbers are important when it comes to alcohol. They are to me because this is a drug. It’s a known drug and we need to pay attention to how we are incorporating it into our lives. They are especially important when it comes to people who are drinking on the higher ends of these numbers because You can greatly improve your overall longevity and health, by reducing the amount of alcohol that you’re drinking, to ignore the numbers when it comes to alcohol can be dangerous. So I think that we have to at least understand them from a scientific level. What also matters and matters more is how and why we want to include alcohol in our lives. What do you believe about alcohol? And what do you believe it is adding to your life? What feeling do you think you are changing or adding to your life with alcohol? Being an alcohol minimalist means that I’m not focused on whether or not I’ll have a drink or not. The numbers are secondary, because my baseline belief is that I don’t need to drink to change how I’m feeling. And that is really how and why moderating, quote, unquote, will never be an issue for me again, I don’t wonder or worry about whether or not I can moderate because I truly don’t desire to over drink anymore. And what, quote, unquote, over drinking looks like for me now is different than it used to be, because of all the thought work I’ve done, because I enjoy incorporating alcohol free days into my weeks. And I have learned how to help myself feel better, no matter what’s happening in my world, because I have learned the behavior map results cycle, and I understand how my thoughts create my feelings, and my feelings dictate my actions. And that gets the results that I have in my life. So the bottom line for me is this. If you want to change your relationship with alcohol, it might be helpful for you to understand some numbers, numbers that helped me understand that drinking enough to raise my blood alcohol content above 0.055% would pass a therapeutic range for alcohol in India increased the likelihood of negative consequences, including anxiety. And so educating myself on that number was important. It helped me challenge this idea that I had that drinking helped me relax and unwind, actually know when I hope or drank and drank more, and raised my blood alcohol content above 0.055%, I was actually increasing my anxiety, not helping myself relax. Also, understanding that my thoughts created my feelings. And every thought that I have is optional. I have tools now to help myself feel better in any given situation. And alcohol just isn’t one of them. Realizing that alcohol free days are really an important part of my peaceful relationship with alcohol. And I value being able to notice that now. So we can’t take the numbers completely out of overdrinking. In my opinion. We can’t take the numbers out of moderating. We can’t just playing to numbers, and we can’t just do the thought work and not pay attention to the numbers. Alcohol is a drug and the negative consequences of drinking exponentially increase with each drink that we take. We have to be mindful of that. Okay, my friends, that is all I have for you this week. Until next time, 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