Why do people choose to drink alcohol
Crikey who knows but here my thoughts after talking now to hundreds of people in medical circumstances and you when you have contacted my blog on why do people choose to drink alcohol?
And I am grateful!
The thing with alcohol is that we can over complicate it and the brain is actually quite a simple device in many ways. And in other ways it’s very complicated.
From our age to social activity, friends, lifestyle, habits, addiction, availability, social norms and the list go on and on.
The fact is we know that choice plays a major role and if you went into a bar, or restaurant the choices are currently very limited.
Asking yourself why you choose to or not drink alcohol is probably one of the biggest insights to you individually when discussing alcohol.
As a coach I once asked this brilliant question. It went like this :
“If you had to teach me how to drink more than the recommended limit, how would you get me to do it?”
It is amazing what comes back and it gives you an insight to how the brain works and actually what it is really like to operate a belief system around drinking and not drinking.
What limiting beliefs do we hold about alcohol in general and what can we do about it?
Here are some of the reasons you have expressed to me and they are good ones!
1. It’s what we grew up with so its just how it is!
Now before you say it, no of course it’s not the same for everyone.
It isn’t you are right but there is something called modeling which is often talked about in psychology. This where we take the lead from our parents at an early age.
Let me give you an example.
I was once sitting on a plane waiting for take off and was very ill having eaten something on my break. I felt the need to tell the passengers next to me that if they wanted me to move to wake me up.
It seemed only polite!
As I leaned across the couple were grabbing the seat in front of them looking scared witless.
They pointed out that they had a fear of flying and as a trained hypnotherapist. I had clocked that. So they said they would not be moving at all.
I pointed to their daughter and said well if you want to move you just shout. The mum straight away said, “she won’t move either, she has also developed a fear of flying and we don’t know why?”
Of course the daughter could see both parents freaking out so had understandably picked this up even though she had never been flying before!
As we grow up we model our elders and take the lead from them. Its how the brain works.
My parents drank alcohol from a very early age as far as I was concerned. They even had a home brewing kit in my bedroom.
Can you believe that?
The point is when they were offering me babycham or glasses of sherry just to try them it became the norm and I thought it was part of everything living.
Of course It’s not the same everywhere as I know when I see children having a small glass of wine with a meal in France it’s just that, a small glass of wine with a meal.
I don’t think they have it home brewing kit in the airing cupboard though!
Of course, I don’t blame my parents but I grew up thinking that drinking alcohol was the norm and it never crossed my mind that there was an alternative.
Of course some kids do rebel so there is never one size fit all.
Modeling parents can have a direct effect on what we consider the normal state of play.
There is the rebellion aspect as a teenager which is totally the opposite which is why the French approach maybe the best balance of both worlds!
2. Stress Can Lead to Alcohol and also the other way around!
As a coach I often see clients who want to address an issue. However, what they are addressing are the symptoms not the cause.
Let’s say you were getting stressed all the time and you turned to the bottle of wine and then the next one in the fridge as a coping strategy but thought it actually helped you.
However, the real issue is not sleeping, or your boss, or your relationship. It could actually be too much caffeine before bed or using your mobile phone too much.
In our society right now we are obsessed by the quick fix and we do anything to get it.
Social media drives much of it as we want the immediate like, love or share.
By not addressing the issue and having a dependent attitude to the fact that alcohol will sort it, it leads us to drink even more.
A standard glass of wine which used to be the case is now a large one or even a super sized one!
In fact, we can not get the whole bottle free in a pub if we get a large glass!
Gone at the days with a nice glass of standard size wine with dinner. Remember the recommended amount is no more than 14 units per week.
1 unit = 1 standard alcoholic drink
Once we pass this figure the risk to our medical and mental health is put at risk. For more on knowing your alcohol limits check out drink aware
So once we start drinking more we are at risk of :
- The shakes
- Stress and a feeling of being out of control
- Brain Fog
- Behavior that we would not rather do
- Being late or turning up for work
- Blood sugar level drops
- Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
And first having a few drinks may seem like the answer to stress and I have even seen some gurus suggest it, but be aware of the reason for the stress first then if you want to enjoy a glass of wine later.
Alcohol is a poison and false escapism and yet we often use it as a crutch to forget. Unfortunately we have to wake up at some point.
Although as sad as it is, stress is also linked to alcohol abuse and suicides so not everyone does!
Deal with the cause not the symptom as alcohol won’t solve that bit for us!
If you are suffering social anxiety the programme I recommend is by a great coach and therapist. Mark has designed his download to be used anywhere and his site can also help with addiction from chocolate to alcohol!
The affiliate link is below but you pay the same
3. We love as humans to conform
It’s actually one of the great influencers in advertising, social influence and being part of “the pack”. The more we feel we belong to a group the more we are likely to follow others’ lead.
There was a great experience involving chimpanzees that can believe it or not tell us a great deal about alcohol consumption and social pressure.
A tribe of chimpanzees were watched in their space for a period of weeks. Unknown to them the chimps’ area had a water sprinkler system designed to test their behaviors.
A bunch of bananas was put at the top of the stairs and they looked rather nice.
However, one of the chimps would go up to grab a banana and the sprinkler system would come on and of course the chimps’ would run for cover.
Over time the chimps’ learned not to touch the banana as they would get very wet.
Over time more chimps’ were added to the space and the sprinkler system was turned off.
In the end there were none of the original chimps’ left as they were removed from the area back to their natural habitat.
The interesting thing is that over time the chimps’ stopped going for the bananas even though they did not know why. In fact none of the original chimps’ were there the first time the sprinkler went off.
As we live in an alcohol dominated society to do anything out of the ordinary is seen as odd so we conform.
“Go on one won’t hurt you!” Is often heard in bars across the world.
What is interesting is that when we also give up alcohol people think you have a problem so you end up being damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You can end up being stuck in the middle.
The amount of prejudice I have had over asking for an alcoholic free alternative drink is shocking and that is before I get to the fact I have liver disease.
You should see their faces.
For help with Liver Health check out the British Liver Trust as they were a great help to me
You have to really want to cut back and to break out of the alcohol norm. It’s the reason why I think alcohol alternatives have a real role. One you have some kind of drink in your hand you can feel the pressure drift away!
Bizarre I know but true!
You only have to look at how long it took the UK to fully enact drink-driving laws to understand the role of alcohol in our world.
4. Change your Environment – Change your Alcohol Consumption
I once wrote an article about the blog regarding leisure activities and hobbies and how it can really change your relationship with alcohol. It was scoffed at by some and loved by others.
With the people that found it useful they radically changed the environment they were in from bars and long lunches to walking, learning a new hobby or just hanging around with different people.
Not I am suggesting that you drop friends although that might be a good idea! I am just suggesting that we become who we hang around with.
Exposure to alcohol-related triggers can be all around us from a film on TV to the local bar. It triggers our brain and sets off a memory and our brain likes connections .
It how habits are formed!
However raising prices as had happened with cigarettes can also be a trigger to saving money so it can work in our favor this brain of ours.
Make a list of your triggers and see what sets you off.
It can be in the form of A Triggers B.
Sometimes just being aware of them can make a big difference. Keep a money saving diary and have a goal to go for.
However, and this is a big beef of mine but we have seen alcohol free bars start to happen like over in Dublin for example.
This is great up to a point. But I do spend time with people who like a drink!
What I don’t understand though is why more ordinary bars and restaurants don’t have more alcohol free brands available or any in some cases and why they are not making a bigger thing about it.
Given the alcohol free growth market is at around 24 per cent annually why do they not have more options available.
Furthermore, why are you made to feel less than OK when asking for one.
Not everywhere but in many bars and restaurants. You do get that blank look or as I have had a few times “what the point?”
Well I’m a customer let’s start with that!
5 Accessibility of alcohol free choice
Alcohol is everywhere and alcohol free less so.
Is it any wonder that we get used to being surrounded by alcohol and why so-called dry January becomes such a big event on social media?
So my friends post like its the end of the world just become they have to go without a drink for a month. Such hardship.
But I do get it totally.
Our fridges are full of alcohol and the supermarket aisles are full of it as well.
However, if you go down a supermarket or mall aisle and try to find alcohol free apart from diet cola it’s a big stretch and very often ends up in disappointment.
In fact even in my local store diet ginger beer which I am rather partial to is under “world foods” and not near the aisles either.
The elderflower presse is somewhere else.
Yet gluten and dairy free is in a much better place. It is almost as if alcohol free drinkers just don’t exist.
Alcohol free wine and the way it’s produced has really changed the landscape in my view.
It used to be just grape juice and very sweet at that. Of course now with the de-alcoholised process it is produced and fermented in the same way but then the alcohol is taken out.
This keeps the aromas and flavor intact and in fact I will now buy a box of alcohol free wine and support it without question.
The other alcohol free drink that I hope does not get priced out of the market is alcohol free gin or alcohol free spirit as we are supposed to call it.
These brands and drinks have been leading the field which is great.
My only concern is that because of the quality they ain’t cheap so maybe it will be seen as a barrier to drinking them. I hope not as the taste is amazing and in most cases providing you use a low calorie mixer they can be calorie free.
I would love to know what you think!
6. Oppositional Response Psychology
Now if I pushed you, what would you do?
You would probably push me back right. It is called an oppositional response which is very natural in humans and it’s the same with alcohol.
I often get it on this blog, “Who are you to tell me to cut back on my alcohol?”. But I do wonder why they came to the blog in the first place.
I just respond with the fact I have liver disease and I am sharing my experience but it’s your call what you do. They then seem to go away happy.
The truth is and this is true especially growing up that if we are told not to do something we do it. It’s why rules and guidelines don’t always work in society unless of course the consequences are so severe we can’t stand to look away any longer.
You would think that was true.
However, a liver consultant who has seen the damage firsthand that alcohol can do said to me that he had tried to tell this story years ago and yet very few people really wanted to know.
I think the tide has turned a bit now and we see that in younger people turning away from alcohol.
At the end of the day while oppositional response is at play people have to want to cut back or stop drinking alcohol completely.
As a coach if someone is referred to me someone else which they feel that person “should” it never works. It’s only when that person who wants to make those changes for themselves that coming to coaching is worthwhile.
You cannot force anyone to do anything and this is true of alcohol even as an adolescent teenager or a full on beer or wine drinker.
7. Alcohol is social and fun
There is no doubt that alcohol of course has a role to play. In fact most of my social life revolved around it. It had nothing but a positive effect or maybe that is not true when I think of my liver.
However, if it’s a birthday, celebrations and drinking with friends, alcohol can have a positive effect on that.
After all we all need to let our hair down.
The more alcohol free options that are around hopefully more and more people might realize that you don’t always need alcohol in the mix.
However, to suggest that it has no role would just be kidding ourselves and others. It has existed from ancient Egypt to the Romans so it ain’t going away any time soon.
You would hope though that better education and options for alcohol free drinks means fun will not always revolve around alcohol.
So what do you think?
Why do you choose to drink alcohol? Which one resonates with you or maybe it’s another reason. People do drink alcohol for a range of reasons from peer pressure to stress and at the end of the day it’s all about balance.
I would love to know what you think about why do people choose to drink alcohol? Just leave a comment below and I always get back to you. I really value what you have to say.