The Booze Free Brigade

How are you doing through this pandemic? I know from friends - 10 months in and it’s pushing some of us to the limit - I think even the introverts amongst us can safely say there’s only SO much of our own company we can tolerate!

Christmas may have highlighted the loneliness of life sometimes (anyway, let alone with Covid’s separation tactics). Are you feeling it too?

As we age we gather new tools to deal with all this and after the discussion last month about alcohol I’m hoping I can add a few more.

Apparently, more and more are turning to the numbing effects of alcohol, and making the move to the demon drink earlier in the day to cope. But do you also notice how it has the opposite effect? I used to find certain drinks had a more adverse reaction than others; red wine was a depressant for me, but I also think different drinks work with people in different ways - for example a guy drinking lager (say) is fine, but make it a snakebite and he could become a monster (we’re all walking chemical equations!).

Alcohol increases your serotonin (feel good) levels short term but DECREASES them long term, making you more susceptible to depression. Add to the fact - Hangovers can trigger panic attacks (not to mention dehydrate, and cause an increase in heartrate - all familiar to the anxious state, so the brain will feel it).. it also impacts your sleep which primes your body to be more anxious.

This self-medicating over time trains the brain to (ultimately) be dependant on a substance. Withdrawal from ANY substance will increase your anxiety – it’s a vicious circle.

If you’re stuck in this pattern it may feel impossible to get out of it but if you can do it you’ll learn new coping mechanisms. Having read and experienced a lot in this field I’d say there are two types: ‘Normies’ (who can drink at a wedding then forget all about drink), and those with a problem but on a scale. And if you’re on that scale – wherever you may be there is absolutely no need to feel bad. From what I gather it is a DNA thing. NOT an ‘addictive or weak personality’. For now – if you’re feeling blue, get into the green and walk! Its one of the tools I mentioned and I'll have more on this next time ......


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