• Val

Day 17 – Alcohol FAQs

Updated: a day ago



It was really important for me to speak out on the subject of alcohol because I believe there is not enough information available to the masses on the dangers of it.


As I mention in my last Blog, alcohol is ingrained within our culture and as such I think becomes embedded within our adult identity as something we should be able to consume without cause for concern. However, the notion that we are alcohol consuming beings is very much misguided.


Alcohol has been ingrained in our culture for centuries! In particular, it has historically been entwined within the economy.


The economics of beer and the industry of brewing even has a friendly term coined to describe it, beeronomics!


At points in history, beer was seen as healthier than water, and in some cases at that time it was! Unfortunately, we now know through research that alcohol is not healthy for human consumption.


“In short, any beer is better than water”

William Cobbett, 1821


With such a long history of alcohol entwinned within the economics of society, it is no wonder that our culture today is so ingrained with the idea that alcohol is a substance we should all be consuming as adults.


In this blog, I thought I would share some of the questions I have been asked about alcohol when I have been delivering talks on the subject and my experience with it.


FAQs


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!


​In the UK, alcohol was reported as the leading cause of death in men aged 16-54 years.


Alcohol is the third leading risk factor for death and disability after smoking and obesity.


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 didn’t use 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?"

Annie Grace

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.

Gabor Maté

Q: What is a safe level of alcohol?


A: After a recent experience drinking a less-than 0.5% alcohol-free beer and experiencing the effects of alcohol in my body, I personally do not believe there is a safe level of alcohol. (Read about this experience here)

Professor David Nutt reference a European study that poses a very alarming statistic:


“…to stay below the acceptable food standard risk for cancer you should consume no more than 50mg/day. This works out at 18g/year i.e. a maximum of 2 units per year!”

Professor David Nutt


Where does your current level of drinking sit on this scale?





Challenging Commonly Held Beliefs


I am finding that speaking out causes people to resist. I would challenge anyone who feels the urge to resist health warnings about alcohol to dig deep and see where this discomfort comes from.


Maybe it’s a sign that deep inside there is a disconnect between your beliefs about alcohol in line with how you consume it, versus the message of ill-health that you are being presented.


Don’t hate the messenger… figure out what the discomfort is and why you hate the message.


If after reading this you want to talk about alcohol and reduce or stop dinking, get in touch to see how I may be able to support you.

Day 17 - 365 Day Journal


Reflections


PTSD Symptom

After being triggered again on Wednesday afternoon I worked hard at finding internal compassion for myself and tired to not let the anxiety get the better of me.

I fell asleep to a guided meditation which helped me sleep which was good. Sleep was disturbed but not badly.


Wednesday Night

Things that were awesome today:

In the two-mile run that I use of an evening to get out and exercise before bed, I had my best time at my MAF heart rate!


Note: I don’t see this as a training PB. I don’t think it’s healthy to compete with yourself, or others, in training. What this is for me is a sign that the adaptations I am looking for from the training, an increase in aerobic function – more work at the same low heart rate – I am gaining.


MAF = Maximum Aerobic Function – it is a theoretical concept developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone. I have been privately studying physiology over the last year as I am super interested in the way that the aerobic and anaerobic systems work. My prior knowledge was very basic. In my opinion, it is not well taught or understood in most fitness courses. I am using the theory from the MAF method to improve my running this year as it is a goal of mine to improve my 5km. I set a benchmark in January 2021 and will re-test in December 2021.


Despite seeing a decline in my indoor rowing since early December 2020, I have seen an increase in my running fitness. With a rational head on I can see that the PTSD symptom has impacted the results of my rowing. I only started running after the PTSD symptom was re-activated. Hence the positive take-away here is that my fitness hasn’t been as negatively impacted by the stress of the PTSD symptom as I often worry about in respect of my rowing. It means I cannot at the moment compare results in my rowing from early December with now, as my stress response is in a very different state. The running is giving me confidence that despite not having the same resting heart rate that I did in December, the health of my system is in a good place otherwise I would not see positive increases in my running results.


I am very excited and hopeful to try a paced 10km time trial on the indoor rower this weekend after having a positive mindset change through the realisation of this experience with my running.


Thursday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

I am grateful for the Internal Family Systems therapy that I am currently engaging in. It is very different to talking therapy but not dissimilar from the Emotional Therapy I accessed last year. It definitely helps me work through the original trauma and I have discovered deep feelings and emotions about that event that I never before realised I held inside.

Health Dashboard

Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0











Fitness


Low Intensity

Running


High Intensity

-


Strength & Mobility

-




Veggies & Fruit


Onion

Mushrooms

Garlic

Red cabbage

Tomato

Turmeric

Cucumber

Kale

Spinach



Meditation & Mindfulness

Before bed – Guided meditation













Day 16 - 365 Day Journal


Reflections


PTSD Symptom

I managed to get a good night’s sleep on Tuesday despite the feeling being triggered… but then it got triggered again on Wednesday afternoon!


I am coming to terms with the fact that until I process the hurt from the situation that sparked the PTSD symptom to re-activate, I am going to experience the symptom. I am learning to be more compassionate with myself as I navigate this process.


Tuesday Night

Things that were awesome today:

I had a lovely lunchtime catch up with my friend Andy and a nice evening walk with my friend Sarah. It was amazing to be out in nature on such a beautiful sunny and warm Spring day.


Wednesday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

I am grateful for nature and being able to spend time outdoors.


“We say exercise is good for health and I would almost flip it on it’s head and say not exercising is bad for your health. In the same way that they say going into nature lowers your blood pressure, I would say being out of nature raises your blood pressure. Our origin story is movement and is being in the natural environment and so movement is our natural state it what’s we’re evolved for and it’s the not moving that’s bad for you. We say exercise is good for you, do it. But exercising should be our default.”

Jesse Charles, MD

Health Dashboard

Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0











Fitness


Low Intensity

Indoor Row


High Intensity

-


Strength & Mobility

Front squats plus mobility and foam rolling



Veggies & Fruit


Onion

Mushrooms

Garlic

Red cabbage

Tomato

Turmeric

Cucumber

Kale

Spinach



Meditation & Mindfulness


Before bed – Guided meditation

Throughout the night – Guided meditation










I ask all readers to be respectful. This is an honest and heart-felt account of the struggle I have incurred.


I thank you in advance for your respect and kindness and I encourage you to sign up to my mailing list so I can notify you about new blog updates.


If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in my blogs please get in touch. Your conversations with me will remain confidential. Please note that I am not a therapist but I can support you to find a way to address any issues you may be experiencing.




Copyright 2021 Val Craft – All Rights Reserved

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