Frequently asked questions
Q: What are your thoughts on a healthy relationship with alcohol?
A: I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘healthy’ relationship with alcohol because alcohol is an addictive neurotoxin and is implicated as a risk factor for many diseases such as cancer.
Think about it like this, you wouldn’t be able to have a ‘healthy’ relationship with heroin!
If alcohol were discovered today it would be a Class A drug because of its addictiveness and the ill-health & social-ill-effects that it causes.
If you have not reached the point where you are out of control with alcohol I think it is an individual choice to choose what alcohol consumption you will accept for yourself based on a risk analysis of the dangers. It’s no different, for example, to me choosing to freestyle snowboard off big jumps and at boxes of metal until just before I was 40. I then I decided that was a level of exposure I was unwilling to carry on with past 40 due to injury risk.
However, if you have hit the point where you are out of control with alcohol, I personally believe you will not be able to re-wire your brain to drink sensibly and therefore abstinence is a must if you want to live a healthy life.
Q: If a family member is a high-functioning alcoholic, does this make me more susceptible?
A: There is research to suggest a genetic relationship with regard to addiction. There is also research to the contrary. I believe that if we are mindful of our own drinking and know what we will and won’t accept for ourselves we can keep ourselves safe. Inherited genetics do not mean you are guaranteed to have a problem.
Q: Did you have any side effects from not drinking?
A: For me only loving life even more than I already did! 😄
I didn’t completely stop drinking overnight, it was a bit of a process finding the right support in order to achieve it. I didn’t have any physical withdrawal symptoms. I believe my dependence was more psychological than physical.
The best side effect is never feeling the morning after effect of alcohol and never having a hangover!
Q: Have you replaced alcohol with anything else as a treat?
A: No, I don’t really see the need. I never used alcohol as a 'treat' in the first place. I was never a fan of alcohol growing up (late teens/early twenties) and am still not a fan today. I think it is an awfully expensive pastime to have for something that provides very little positive benefit in life. I like this quote from Annie Grace when she debunks alcohol as a tool for happiness:
"...if alcohol made you happy, every time you drank you should be full of happiness. Let me ask you, from a purely physiological perspective, how could alcohol possibly make you happy? The effect of alcohol is to deaden all of your senses, to numb you, to inebriate you. If you are numb, how can you feel anything, happiness included? Surely you are not happy every time you drink. None of us are proud of everything we have said or done while drinking. Yet in the moment we believe we are on top of the world, saying and doing anything we please, deluding ourselves into thinking it’s making us happy. Are you happy when the room starts to spin, or your dinner comes back up? Is the drunk on the street in Vegas who has lost his home and his family to booze truly happy?"
Q: Is there such a thing as an addictive personality?
A: From the research I have read I would personally say no. Self-image plays a massive part in how we choose to think and act. If we label ourselves as having an 'addictive personality' we are creating a negative and self-limiting belief for ourselves and these are seldom helpful in life. They hold us in negative situations and give us an excuse for staying with poor life choices.
"Although addiction was originally framed by both Alcoholics Anonymous and psychiatry as a form of antisocial personality or “character” disorder, research did not confirm this idea. Despite decades of attempts, no single addictive personality common to everyone with addictions has ever been found... Fundamentally, the idea of a general addictive personality is a myth."
Maia Szalavitz in 'Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction'
"There is no personality trait that guarantees an individual will develop an addiction and there is little evidence for an ‘addictive personality’ that is predictive of addiction alone. In short, ‘addictive personality’ is a complete myth."
Mark D Griffiths in 'The Myth of 'Addictive Personality' - DOI: 10.19080/GJARM.2017.03.555610
I believe more in the thoughts of Gabor Maté who suggests that at the root of all addictive behaviours is unprocessed emotional distress.
"Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience.
A hurt is at the centre of all addictive behaviours.
It is present in the gambler, the Internet addict, the compulsive shopper and the workaholic.
The wound may not be as deep and the ache not as excruciating, and it may even be entirely hidden—but it’s there.
As we’ll see, the effects of early stress or adverse experiences directly shape both the psychology and the neurobiology of addiction in the brain."