*

Posts Tagged 'addiction'

Discover the joy of a sober Christmas: How to enjoy the festive season sober

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018


It’s amazing how many people have told me they just couldn’t do a booze-free celebration—especially at Christmas.

Like Carol who told me she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with her extended family. “As soon as we arrive my nephew hands me a joint and fills my glass of bubbles and keeps it topped up so we can all get on.”

But when I share my story of our lovely alcohol-free Christmas and booze-free alternatives some people are genuinely inspired to give it a go.

The other day, while we were walking back from the supermarket carrying a bottle of alcohol-free wine, a middle-aged man stopped us. He told us that he had been drinking since 10:30 in the morning and wished he could stop because he was tired of “waking up depressed and hung over”.

He looked genuinely enthusiastic about trying the alcohol-free wine that we recommended and went away saying, “May God bless you… you have changed my life.”

That my friends is one of the joys of sobriety… inspiring others. The photo above is a wee shot of our very simple pre-Christmas fare, along with a wonderful bottle of Edenvale, alcohol-free wine. And below a wee video I shot of my daughter and her partner celebrating alcohol-free bubbles this Christmas—further proof of the joy of sobriety.

 

 

 

Here are a few tips to help you discover the joy of a sober Christmas—or any other celebration for that matter:

 

What’s your why?

If you’re going to go to sober and want to succeed you’ll need a powerful reason why. Why would you want to do Christmas booze-free? To wake up hangover-free on boxing day and the days that follow? To feel happier, less depressed. To achieve health goals? To rebuild a drowning relationship? To be a role model to others? To feel a sense of control… or just because you’d like to experience what all these teetotallers are raving about.

Perhaps you can relate to Tania Glyde’s story which was published in an article by The Independent.

“When I was growing up, the only way to get through Christmas was to keep drinking slowly, throughout the day…One of my worst Christmases ever was at the end of 1995. I’d had an unusually difficult year, with ill health and unemployment and drugs and fair-weather friends, all of which, strangely, eclipsed the fact that I’d also had my first novel published. I’d been hanging out with a well-heeled west-London crowd, obsessed with appearances and fluffed up with cocaine. I’d been seeing the gang’s resident sociopath. It was one of those non-affairs that keeps trickling on, and all you do is rant about it to your friends, and makes you very glad when your twenties are over and you’ve grown up a bit. As the festive season approached, someone’s pal came blasting in from the past, a notorious man-grabber. I should have seen it coming and left the self-serving pair to their own devices but, alas, one tinselly night, the vodka spoke for me. I opened my big mouth, threatened god knows what, had a crying jag when I found her jacket at his flat, and the whole thing turned into “A Drama”, resulting in me being ostracised from the crowd for months. It really was the last straw.”

 

My ‘why’ is multi-faceted. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

My grandmother was an alcoholic, her father was too—and both their stories, like many people affected by alcohol, was one of tragedy.

In the 1930’s a drunken brawl outside the local pub in New Zealand left one man dead and my great-grandfather charged with murder.

My grandmother was four, and her brother aged six when they were taken into foster care. They never saw their mother, father, or each other again.

I’ve always wondered had it not been for the trauma Molly experienced as a child, and throughout her life, would she have sought happiness in a bottle?

The tragedy didn’t end there. Years later her brother, then in his 30s and married with three children, took his life.

Recently, at the time of writing, my mother shared how her childhood was scarred. “Mum was always drinking. We would come home and she would be in bed. I don’t recall her ever not being drunk.”

Their story, my story, your story is a far too common one.

“My step-father was an alcoholic and I lived through rough times with alcohol,” a reader shared with me as I wrote this book.

“I hope your book does help many people. I personally believe a book like this would not have helped my dad. Only complete removal of alcohol would have helped. Just my opinion that you cannot control alcohol. You must remove it,” he added. “I do hope your book does help many lives that are affected by alcohol though.”

Hope, as you read through this book, is an important element of any recovery—as is a desire for change.

 

Increasingly my ‘why’ also includes health and wellness goals. Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is. Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. It’s a poison and well-documented cause for a concerning array of cancers and diseases and mental illnesses—including anxiety and depression.

Melinda Hammond’s passion is helping people tell their stories and bringing in experts to help the listeners of her podcast, Writer on The Road, do just that. in 2018 I had the great pleasure of sharing my story behind the passion and purpose of choosing sobriety and writing books to help support and cheerlead others.

Listen to my interview with Melinda Hammond, “Name Your Poison: Writers, Alcohol & The Creative Muse, with Cassandra Gaisford. Discover the joy of sobriety” —https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy this informative and game-changing chat.

 

Sober companions

We are social animals which means that it’s a lot easier to engage in healthy and sober practices when you are surrounded by other like-minded people.

You may be surprised how many others may want to wish to join you on your sobriety challenge, or how many others are already teetotallers or wanting to reduce considerably.

An article and video published recently by the BBC says sobriety has become mainstream—it’s no longer a losers game but the winners choice for increased health, wealth, and happiness. I talk more about the benefits and life-changing magic of sobriety and provide tips to control alcohol in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Encouragingly, bars, nightclubs, and alcohol companies are responding to the massive sobriety movement which is rapidly growing in strength around the world – motivated by choice, health, and authentic joy… and in some cases, profit. Yes, folks as I’ve said, there is wealth in health!

However, committing to sobriety doesn’t mean that you can’t be amongst other drinking people. While being surrounded by drinkers, especially drunks, doesn’t make it easier, especially in the early days, it is a good test of your conviction, will, and commitment to sobriety.

Several years ago when I first decided to stop drinking for a period I spent Christmas and the new year staying at a resort in Fiji. Both my partner and I committed to sobriety. The place was dripping with alcohol and heaving with aggressive marketing promotions of “happy” buckets of beers and other alcohol-laden beverages. These were at reduced prices – making them cheaper than fruit juices or water.

What made it easy to remain alcohol-free was, along with reminding myself why I had made the decision, noticing how drunk everyone was getting also helped.

It also made it easier because I felt fantastic and my partner and I certainly noticed a difference when it came to pay our “bar” bill. Where some people received a shock at how quickly their booze bill added up to $thousands, our cheap alcohol-free mocktails were easy on the pocket.

You don’t have to make a big drama about not drinking alcohol. Many times you can blend in quite simply by having a Coca-Cola in a short “spirit” glass, or drinking soda and lime or alcohol-free wine in a fancy wine glass, or enjoying a mocktail.

Being with family

Many people drink just to survive reunions with the family. Let’s face it, not everyone finds it easy to get along and a lot of childhood wounds can be reactivated when everyone gets together. Add alcohol and you add pure fire. So many people don’t appreciate how easily alcohol fuels aggression.

Horrifically, domestic violence crimes soars, child assault, and other crimes are highest during what is marketed as the festive season.

Get yourself in the right mindset or avoid family and Christmas altogether – as my partner and I did several years ago following a particularly stressful time. Instead, we traveled to the beautiful island of Taveuni in the tropical paradise of Fiji. Our family threatened never to speak to us again. But guess what—they did. And in many ways, we have set the tone for following Christmases which are considerably laden with guilt and resentment. Now as a family we actually choose to come together. If someone wants to do something else, with someone else that’s fine too.

No one says you have to spend Christmas together. If you’re not feeling happy about spending time together, and the only way to survive feels like numbing or buoying yourself with alcohol don’t do it. Instead make a happier, healthier choice.

If you do decide to spend time with family and you know people will be drinking, definitely avoid alcohol. During challenging times like these myself, I found it easier to sometimes retreat to a quiet room and give myself a few minutes break or longer to fortify myself, to pray for help to get through the day without getting frustrated, snappy or picked on and provoked. Sometimes, I’ve simply gone for a walk.

Affirmations and other self-soothing strategies can also help get you in the sobriety mindset mic set. Or follow a maxim of the writing world which is often dispensed by masters of creating wonderful scenes, “get in late and leave early.” Don’t overstay your welcome.

Know your triggers

Do you know why you drink? Is it because an expensive bottle of champagne is thrust upon you by a grateful client or ardent admirer. Would it feel rude or reckless to refuse? Is it because everybody else is getting plastered and you feel left out? Is it because there’s nothing else to drink other than a carton or pithy orange juice?

Forewarned is forarmed. This may include having some alcohol free alternatives on hand, meditating or indulging in other ways to relax so you’re not feeling super stressed. It may mean driving a different way to avoid your local liquor store or sending someone else into the supermarket. Or,  as I’ve already discussed, it might mean giving Christmas a miss.

Or you may, as we did this year, celebrate early when there is less pressure, or keeping it low key—as my daughter and her partner and I did this year by doing Christmas sober over whitebait fritters. No panic shopping, no overcooking, no stress.

I share more tips to help you name and avoid your triggers and remain alcohol-free in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Make time for joy

So often people are stressing about Christmas, stressing about buying gifts are exchanging the ones that got, feeding everyone entertaining everyone and it’s really easy to fit it about making time for yourself and things that spark joy

Do something that gets yourself a natural high whether it’s body surfing on the beach, engaging in a long lost her baby, well known in a new one, joy is the perfect antidote to stress and a proven sobriety strategy.

Authentic joy, rather than drunk delirium, has phenomenal energy and incredible versatility. In The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama shares that Paul Ekman, a longtime friend, and famed emotions researcher, has written that joy is associated with feelings as varied as:

• Pleasure (of the five senses)

• Amusement (from a chuckle to a belly laugh)

• Contentment (a calmer kind of satisfaction)

• Excitement (in response to novelty or challenge)

• Relief (following upon another emotion, such as fear, anxiety, and even pleasure)

• Wonder (before something astonishing and admirable)

• Ecstasy or bliss (transporting us outside ourselves)

• Exultation (at having accomplished a difficult or daring task)

• Radiant pride (when our children earn a special honor)

• Elevation (from having witnessed an act of kindness, generosity, or compassion)

• Gratitude (the appreciation of a selfless act of which one is the beneficiary)

Buddhist scholar and former scientist Matthieu Ricard has added three other more exalted states of joy: rejoicing (in someone else’s happiness, what Buddhists call mudita), delight or enchantment (a shining kind of contentment) and spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence).

When you tap into your joy, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of energy and enthusiasm.

The French take it further—of course! Jouissance, literally means orgasmic joy. It’s derived from the word from jouir (“to enjoy”). Jouissance is to enjoy something a lot!

Find joy in whatever is present in your life today.

Encourage yourself, challenge any mistaken assumptions that finding joy is not possible for you, and boost your belief by collecting examples of people who followed their joy and made a rewarding career, enriched their lives and stayed sober. Collette Baron-Reid is just one of many inspiring examples…oh, and when I follow my joy I inspire myself!

 

Nurture yourself

Christmas falls at the end of the year and everybody is pretty fatigued so be sure to make plenty of time to rest, sleep and nurture yourself. Importantly, let go of the guilt. Lounge around in your bed if you feel like it, take yourself offline for a staycation at home, Or escape the routine somewhere you can be free of all your “to-do list.”

Lie in, read a book, close the door on the world, detox from social media and do whatever it takes to give yourself a break so you can emerge into the new year and relaxed and reinspired.

You’ll find more tips to help you rest and nurture yourself in my post, Sleep More, Drink Less: How to Quit or Moderate Alcohol and Cure Insomnia—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/sleep-more-drink-less-how-to-cure-insomnia/

Commit to a brand new year in 2019. This may mean embracing the joy of therapy and finally releasing yourself of all the wounds and triggers that may have driven you to drink.

As my daughter so sagely said,

“The thing that not drinking for the last 11 months has given me is the space to have nowhere to run from the shit that I was needing to work through. Now when I have a glass it feels lighter because I’m not using it for that purpose. I’m not hiding from anything.”

This year my mom also shared with me things that happened in my childhood that I had completely forgotten or rather my mind had erased as part of my survival strategy. She also shared her upbringing and childhood memories of her mother’s drinking and alcoholism and the violence in her home.

As Wayne Dyer once said, “A woman who heals herself heals her mother, heals her daughter, and heals every woman around her.”

 

Here, enjoying an alcohol-free Christmas is my daughter Hannah Joy and her beautiful partner Josh.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

Did you enjoy this post?

 

You might like:

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 Why Being Inspired Matters: The Spontaneous Fulfillment and Healing Power of Joy

Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

High Sobriety: Changing Our Relationship With Alcohol

Does talk therapy actually work?

Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

Powerful Creativity: How Making Room For Hobbies is The Ultimate Cure For Addiction, Stress, Anxiety, Depression and More

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Very few happy, healthy people are naturally born this way. Dig into their pasts and you will find that they have cultivated optimism by learning and applying techniques that help them transcend negativity and keep it at bay.

Throughout my book Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy I share a wide variety of ways to overcome adversity, build resilience and find joy. Regular exercise, good diet, relaxation exercises, and rest are a few of the many techniques covered. Holistic and self-empowered strategies to feed your soul and achieve your highest potential also including following your passion, engaging in activities you love and ways to bounce back from setbacks are also included.

As several reviewers noted:

“Loved the fact it is an easy read and is so incredibly comprehensive in its spectrum of tools covered: eastern and western/physical and psychological/science and esoteric. It’s hard to find books that capture this in one space–a comprehensive manual containing a tasting platter of techniques.”

~ Tina Drummond, Health and Safety Consultant, Wellness Motivator

“Cassandra has mastered the art of speaking in clear and simple terms and has presented Bounce as an easy to read, concise—yet completely comprehensive guide to overcoming all the obstacles that stand between yourself and your passion. She has taken a truly holistic approach and leaves no stone unturned. She lays out all the facets of overcoming your obstacles in a no-nonsense fashion and covers everything … Mind, body and soul … the physical, the spiritual, and the scientific. She evens touches on topics that may be considered ‘airy-fairy’ with believable and inspiring confidence.

 While Bounce is a concise presentation, do not be fooled by its quick two-hour read, it is incredibly comprehensive astoundingly holistic—and effective.”

~ Niki Firth, Amazon Review

Listed below are some helpful reminders of some of the many holistic coping strategies you’ll find in Bounce that you can call upon during times of current or anticipated need.

Physical

• Learn to listen to your body       

• Adequate exercise                 

• Physical touch/massage          

• Muscle relaxation         

• Sleep     

• Warmth

• Relaxation breathing                

• A healthy diet, i.e. reducing stimulants (coffee, nicotine etc.), increasing water, and eating organic non-processed foods

• Yoga

 

Behavioral

• Balanced lifestyle        

• Support groups / Counseling          

• Sharing with friends and family

• Humor        

• New interests / activities      

• Hobbies        

• Socializing

• Entertaining          

• Taking time out       

• Music / dancing / singing/creative expression    

• Meditating

• Yoga

• Being proactive and taking control of the situation

• Change careers

• Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption

• Making time to do nothing at all

 

Cognitive / Perceptual (thinking)

• Rational thinking techniques to help change the way you interpret the stressful situation

• Positive thinking/cultivating optimism      

• Self-assertion training      

• Personal development

• Building self-esteem      

• Realistic goal planning      

• Time management

• Learning to say “No”       

• Priority clarification      

• Reflection

• Mindfulness

• Acceptance

• Hypnosis

 

Emotional

• Releasing emotions and expressing feelings (laugh, talk, cry, write in a journal, paint etc.)

• Learning how to “switch off”

• Taking time out          

• Solitude and space           

• Intimacy

• Counseling and support

• Challenging your emotional reactions to situations

• Passion/Joy

 

Social

• Scheduling time to spend with important people in your life

• Making plans with friends, family and loved ones in advance

• Sharing your experiences of stress with certain people in your life, especially letting them know the ways that stress has been affecting you, so they understand

• Practicing assertive communication within your significant relationships to decrease conflicts, while also continuing to find ways to show people around you that they are important

 

Spiritual

• Prayer and mediation—scheduling regular time

• Helping others (talking, writing, supporting)

• Reiki and other energy healing techniques

• Talking with a spiritual confidant or leader to explain any spiritual issues or doubts that you may have encountered

• Forgiveness (of self or others)

• Compassion / loving kindness

• Continuing to read and learn about your faith, belief or value system

• Connecting with others who share your beliefs

 

 

The above list is by no means exhaustive; however, you may note a reoccurring theme—the power of creativity.  Many people have that that making room for hobbies is the ultimate cure for addiction, stress, anxiety, depression and more.

Recently, after experiencing a tsunami of stress I realized my hobbies had been horribly neglected. But not anymore! What looked like a horrible situation of having to leave our home during renovations turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The accommodation we rented was owned by a wonderful lady and talented artist and jewelry designer.

I’m not sure how Anna Hamilton discovered that many years ago I had painted and exhibited my art but she quickly asked if I would be interested in exhibiting alongside her during the upcoming Koast Art Trail in The Bay of Islands—http://koast.org.nz/koast-artists-jewellers-potters-kerikeri/.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t say yes straight away. I hadn’t painted for years. “When was I possibly going to kind time to create? And where?” Everything was in storage. Nothing was organized. Everything was chaotic.

But Anna was persistent and persuasive. And my weary soul began to sing. I began to feel excited. I felt encouraged, excited…and Koast was still some few months off.

“Yes, “ I said. “I will do this,” I agreed, feeling a bit of fear and deciding to act anyway.

And then Anna asked if I had any paintings to share in her gallery?

And now I have three paintings hanging in her beautiful gallery. And I feel so excited. And all that stress and tiredness has floated away. And most exciting of all, I’m looking forward to creating a new body of work for the Koast exhibition in October.

 

 

 

 

So what is it about creativity? Why is it such a potent tool of healing?

It’s not easy to overcome many of the things that hold you back. But you can do it—if you’re willing to be strong and fight for your dreams. Within many of us lies an innate seam of strength, which, when mined skilfully, will produce an endless source of pure gold. Part of this strength is our ability to create infinite joy—and creativity fuels that.

As Buddha once said, “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”

When you follow your bliss, do things you enjoy, seize the reins of control and take responsibility, you will empower your life, your joy, and your health.

 

Jumping with Joy

Joy has phenomenal energy and incredible versatility. In The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama shares that Paul Ekman, a longtime friend, and famed emotions researcher, has written that joy is associated with feelings as varied as:

• Pleasure (of the five senses)

• Amusement (from a chuckle to a belly laugh)

• Contentment (a calmer kind of satisfaction)

• Excitement (in response to novelty or challenge)

• Relief (following upon another emotion, such as fear, anxiety, and even pleasure)

• Wonder (before something astonishing and admirable)

• Ecstasy or bliss (transporting us outside ourselves)

• Exultation (at having accomplished a difficult or daring task)

• Radiant pride (when our children earn a special honor)

• Elevation (from having witnessed an act of kindness, generosity, or compassion)

• Gratitude (the appreciation of a selfless act of which one is the beneficiary)

 

Buddhist scholar and former scientist Matthieu Ricard has added three other more exalted states of joy: rejoicing (in someone else’s happiness, what Buddhists call mudita) delight or enchantment (a shining kind of contentment) spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence).

When you tap into your joy, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of energy and enthusiasm.

The French take it further—of course! Jouissance, literally means orgasmic joy. It’s derived from the word from jouir (“to enjoy”). Jouissance is to enjoy something a lot!

One of my favorite creativity experts Mihaly Czikszentmihaly, refers to this as a state of  “flow.”

In a popular YouTube talk, he asks, “What makes a life worth living? Money cannot make us happy,” he says. Instead, he urges us to learn from people who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about this state of transcendent flow.

Many years ago I held an exhibition of the paintings I did after I participated in a Sumi Ink workshop in Maui with Max Gimblett. Our exhibition was held in Wellington, New Zealand with two other artists. We named the exhibition, Joy’ance. (One of the artists didn’t like the association with ‘orgasmic!)

 

 

Gosh, it was fun! And best of all I received wonderful feedback:

“Beautiful images for a dreary day”

“What a warm surprise: joyful! Thanks for an uplifting visit amongst this wonderful art!”

“Great to see and feel the enterprise and the energy.”

“Inspiring” 

“This has really made my day. I’m quite cynical—but you have achieved what I would expect from something like this (my sumi_e ink Gimblett inspired works). They are so beautiful and simple Their simplicity inspired so much emotion”

“Wonderful art in a wonderful city”

“What a surprise! Joyful! Thanks for an uplifting visit amongst this wonderful art.”

“Thank you, beautiful artwork! Love the bright colors – you have brightened up a dark, gloomy day.”

 

Find something that sparks joy and keep hugely interested in it by feeding and nurturing your jouissance every day.

It’s what I’m doing now—by planning my exhibition, reading books about art, and following some of my favorite artists. I don’t necessarily need to make my living from my art, but I do need to make room for creativity in my life. Do you?

This is an edited extract from Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Cassandra Gaisford

If you’re interested in reading more about how to boost your happiness and, overcome obstacles and elevate your success read the book here—myBook.to/Bounce.

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

If you loved this post you may like to check out Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

http://www.cassandragaisford.com/true-stories-your-beautiful-mind-control-alcohol-discover-freedom-find-happiness-and-change-your-life-justin-rajs-journey-to-joyful-sobriety/

What’s the ultimate Christmas present? The gift of your sobriety

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

When I cut out alcohol, my life got better. When I cut out alcohol, my spirit came back. An evolved life requires balance. Sometimes you have to cut one thing to find balance everywhere else.”

~ Sarah Hepola, author

How Alcohol Affects Your Brain and Behavior

You may think that alcohol relaxes you, but in reality, you’re disrupting your brain’s natural functioning. Every time you drink alcohol you’re slowing down, impeding and even destroying your beautiful brain’s ability to do its job.

Scary and true.

Your brain is your body’s control center. It’s the maestro of the orchestra, directing a wide range of abilities and vital life processes, including breathing and maintaining a regular heartbeat, and influencing your emotions.

When you introduce booze into the mix the melody changes from one of harmony to potential discord.

While all the systems in your body feel the effects of alcohol, the Central Nervous System (CNS), is acutely sensitive. The CNS is made up of billions of neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior. And none of these are for the better.

Alcohol seeps through the blood-brain barrier, reaching and affecting neurons directly. Once alcohol touches these cells it alters them, resulting in changes in your normal functioning and behavior.

 

The Great Depression

Alcohol depresses your CNS—slowing motor function, thinking, comprehension, and reasoning.

Booze makes nerve cells in your brain dull and less excited. This may surprise you. You may think that alcohol is a great ‘pick-me-up.’

In the short-term drinking alcohol can make you become more animated and socially confident. But this is only because the first wave of alcohol affects parts of your brain that involve inhibiting your behaviors.

The first drops of alcohol are like a green light signaling to your neural network, ’Let’s go! It’s happy hour. Time to party.’

But look more closely and you’ll see many warning indicators that your brain is either slowing to a crawl or getting ready to brawl.

Take a look at the list below. How many have been true for you after knocking back a few too many?

• Slurring and altered speech

• Hazy thinking

• Slowed reaction time

• Blurred vision

• Uncoordinated muscles

• Foggy memory

Let’s take a closer look at how alcohol affects your brain and behavior.The role of different parts of your brain and how alcohol compromises optimal functioning follows:

Central striatum and prefrontal cortex: Contains connections that make up the brain’s reward system and regulates impulsive behavior. This is also the part of the brain that is affected first, causing your behavior to become looser, less guarded and increasing the likelihood you’ll do something impulsive you may later regret.

Hippocampus: Your brain’s memory storehouse. Even a small shot of alcohol can cause forgetfulness and memory loss.

Cerebellum: This part of your brain works with the primary motor cortex to control your movement, maintain balance, and enable complex motor functions. When you’re drunk, your motor function is impeded and reaction times slow. If you can’t stand or walk in a straight line after a night on the booze you’ll know why.

Frontal lobe: Your judgment, behavior, and emotions are controlled by this part of your brain. Alcohol affects the natural rhythm of your emotions and may cause anxiety, depression, crying, fighting, and aggression. Alcohol can make good people turn bad, and happy people become sad.

Reticular activating system: This part is in the midbrain, and controls sleeping and waking. Alcohol can depress these systems, causing you to pass out. Alternatively, it can disrupt your normal sleeping patterns, causing insomnia and waking you up at annoying hours. Lack of sleep increases irritability and low mood.

Medulla: This part is in the hindbrain, and it controls your heartbeat, breathing, and other important life functions. Heavy drinking sessions can disrupt everything, putting your life in danger.

Neurons: Your brain has billions of these nerve cells. As you’ve already read, alcohol can reach and enter these cells and damage, or even, at high enough levels, kill them off completely.

Blood vessels: When you’re intoxicated, alcohol causes your blood vessels to relax and open wide—slowing blood pressure to crawl. At very high levels of intoxication, booze can shrink your blood vessels and send your blood pressure soaring, exacerbating such conditions as migraine headaches, or worse, compromising your heart.

Hypothalamus: Finally, alcohol depresses nerve centers in the hypothalamus, which control sexual performance and arousal. Sexual urges may increase, but sexual performance and sensory pleasure decrease.”

Shut off, shut down…and worse

Okay, now you know what happens in your brain when you drink, and how this compromises your behavior and health. The chances are high that you know that alcohol can be dangerous. But very often, it’s not a story that’s often heard.

Many people don’t abuse alcohol and enjoy a good time. But a lot of people don’t.

Alcohol affects just about every part of your brain and your nervous system. It ‘shuts down’ different parts of the brain and compromises your health, causes you to engage in unhealthy behaviors and engage in activities you wouldn’t normally do if you weren’t ‘under the influence.’

In essence, you’ve lost control. At worst, letting alcohol get in the driver’s seat could take your freedom and your life.

Drinking alcohol increases the likelihood of making bad decisions, engaging in risky behavior, increasing the alcohol dependence, and can lead to addiction and alcoholism.

In the following chapter, we’ll look at why some people develop alcohol dependence and how relying on booze to deal with life can escalate to alcoholism. You’ll then be better armed to avoid getting immeshed in the alcohol trap.

Sexy Sobriety: Your Challenge

Educate yourself. Next time you decide to hit the bottle monitor what happens to your brain, your mood, and your ability to function. If you’re around other people who are on the booze, study how excessive drinking affects them.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book. Be the first to know when my new book, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, is released. Sign up for her newsletter here http://eepurl.com/cQXY4f

Would you like to drink less? We value your advice—help customize this book to peoples’ needs, navigate to here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5K8KSN7

Pop along to Cassandra’s Facebook page and join the December Detox challenge. The best Christmas present to give yourself and others may be the gift of your beautiful sobriety https://www.facebook.com/YourBeautifulMindControlAlcoholBook/

*