• Val

Day 30 – The First Time You Drank, Did it Really Taste Good?!

Updated: Apr 19



Further Info.

Last Blog

How this Journal Blog came into being

About the PTSD Symptom 1

About the PTSD Symptom 2

Alcohol Safety

Alcohol FAQs


Alcohol doesn’t taste good… yet seasoned drinkers may tell you they love the taste of alcohol.


I would argue against this point and suggest that what they love is the hit of dopamine they have conditioned their body to expect from alcohol, and not the taste!


“…you would be surprised how difficult it is to get people to drink alcohol for the first time. Pure alcohol tastes repellent… Even in the various forms in which we buy it, it’s often bitter and tart, if not downright unpleasant, and needs a mixer.”

Professor David Nutt

We may grow to enjoy the sweet flavour of whatever our chosen tipple is mixed with, but I would again argue that it is the sugar in the flavouring of the alcohol plus the alcohol that have conditioned our brain to expect a hit of dopamine when we drink, and this is what we enjoy. Both sugar and alcohol are drugs to the brain.


I’ve yet to find a single person who on their first sip of alcohol truly enjoyed the taste.


Alcohol was never taboo in our house growing up, probably why I was never very enamoured by it as a teen. We were allowed a shandy with Sunday lunch plus the odd sip of wine and beer here and there.


I remember screwing my face up at a sip of beer without the sweet taste of lemonade accompanying it to turn it into shandy. I also remember screwing my face up at the taste of wine.


I persisted because it almost seemed like alcohol was a prerequisite for adult life. I have talked about this in another blog, but I think we are conditioned to believe that we should be alcohol consuming beings by the way in which alcohol is ingrained within the very fabric of our society. Our adult identity becomes linked in some way to being alcohol consuming adults and hence any challenge pointing out the destructive and negative side of alcohol literally hurts our ego and hence is uncomfortable to accept.



Trigger Behaviour Reward


In his book ‘The Craving Mind’, Judson Brewer uses the ‘Trigger – Behaviour – Reward’ model to explain how we get addicted to things. It’s a simple process which taps into the pleasure-reward system of the brain.


Trigger – something makes us reach for a substance the brain has previously recalled giving us a good feeling through the secretion of dopamine – e.g. we want to go out and party to lose our senses and just feel good since the hum drum of life has gotten too much, or a stressful event happens and rather than deal with our emotions we want something to help suppress them.


Behaviour – the brain remembers that alcohol inhibited our senses, made us relaxed and released dopamine, so we reach for alcohol.


Reward – Dopamine hit received and pleasure is felt in the first instance.


As Brewer discusses, the pleasure-reward system of the brain is pivotal in habit formation and can eventually lead to addiction.


Since our first taste experiences with alcohol aren’t pleasant (and if we drank pure ethanol we would most definitely agree that alcohol doesn’t taste great!), I believe the enjoyment in taste is not about taste but about pleasure-reward response in the brain. Therefore, adding weight to my comment in the last blog that I believe all social drinkers to have a degree of addiction to alcohol due to the way in which it affects the brain.

“drinking releases dopamine, which is involved in drive, motivation and energy …Dopamine is one of the transmitters that also lays down behaviour patterns, so it’s important in addiction. Dopamine release may be the reason people get locked into habits that start off being fun, or at least not damaging, but then become so”

Professor David Nutt

When we give up alcohol and believe that we miss the taste of it, it is pertinent to remind ourselves how unpleasant the taste of alcohol actually is. Annie Grace talks about using liminal thinking to rationalise thoughts on alcohol rather than just blindly continuing to believe a narrative we have been fed through the media and social conditioning.


Just have a think for a minute what it tastes like if you have ever tried neat spirits. Remember the first time you tried it? I am willing to bet that if you are honest with yourself it didn’t taste good.

“I went to school in an agricultural town surrounded by ranches and farms. Aggie towns have a very intense smell. After a few months there, I couldn’t smell it at all. It’s remarkable how, given enough time, senses grow immune to the most unpleasant things. There’s no doubt alcohol tastes bad. Why else would we need to go to such great lengths to make it palatable with mixers and sweeteners? You may be a manly type who now loves to drink whiskey straight. You acquired a taste for whiskey like I acquired a smell for animal crap. Do you really drink just because of the taste?”

Annie Grace

Fooling ourselves that alcohol tastes great detracts from the ill-health effects. Ethanol is what we know of as alcohol in the drinks we consume. Ethanol is a poisonous substance for humans. The description below is taken from Britannica online:


“Ethanol is an important industrial chemical; it is used as a solvent, in the synthesis of other organic chemicals, and as an additive to automotive gasoline (forming a mixture known as a gasohol).”

Britannica


“I was recently in Brazil and saw ethanol for sale at the gas stations. You may be surprised to know that the ethanol you put in your gas tank is the exact same ethanol in the liquor you drink. Yep, alcohol, without additives, is ethanol. Pure alcohol tastes awful, and a very small amount will kill you. We use extensive processes and additives to make it taste good enough to drink. Unfortunately, none of these processes reduce the harms associated with drinking fuel.”

Annie Grace

When we begin to debunk the hype around alcohol and see it for what it really is, it can become much easier to feel at ease about not drinking. We can begin to remove the notion of being alcohol consuming beings from our identity.


Think back to the first time you tasted alcohol, if you’re honest with yourself did you really enjoy it? Or were you conditioned to enjoy it?

Day 30 - 365 Day Journal


Reflections


PTSD Symptom

No PTSD symptom last night or this morning. I was shattered so was again in bed not long after 9pm.


Tuesday Night

Things that were awesome today:

I really enjoyed indoor rowing outdoors in the garden this afternoon! It was a great session. My coach, Eddie, is working me towards repeating the 10km TT at the end of this four week block as I know he thinks I have more to give than I did very recently.


Wednesday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

One of my clients couldn’t train this morning and so that afforded me a bonus run around the 4 mile course which I am very grateful for.


Health Dashboard


Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0


Fitness

Low Intensity

Bike


Moderate Intensity

Indoor Row


Strength & Mobility

Push and pull foam rolling and mobility


Veggies & Fruit

Red cabbage

Lettuce

Tomato

Pepper

Mushrooms

Avocado

Courgette

Onion

Garlic

Kale

Spinach

Ginger

Turmeric


Meditation & Mindfulness

Morning – Silent meditation

Before bed – Guided meditation

Day 29 - 365 Day Journal


Reflections


PTSD Symptom

Luckily the symptom subsided before bedtime last night. I was so tired from lack of sleep the night before that I was in bed by 9pm last night. I had a really good sleep and felt great when I first woke up, but by lunchtime the lack of sleep caught up with me and so I had a nap.


I had a great therapy session this morning and I am really hoping that we have been able to work on a key piece that I think is behind the way I get triggered.


I am hopeful but also very nervous in case I get triggered this week. Positive mindset on though, I am focusing on not fretting about it and staying calm and positive inside.


Monday Night

Things that were awesome today:

I really enjoyed the England Athletics webinar with Alex Hutchinson tonight. I read his book ‘Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits’ and really enjoyed it. It’s about how the mind plays a part in how we cope with endurance and sporting effort. I fully believe in the power of the mind in both the sporting context and in everyday life. It was great to hear Alex speak.


I was really pleased with my 4 mile run at low heart rate tonight. This was my most steady 4 mile run. My heart rate profile is settling down nicely and in just three weeks on this 4 mile course I have reduced my time from 1 hour and 29 seconds to 53 minutes and 56 seconds!


Tuesday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

Therapy

My ability to open up and be vulnerable

The Spring blossom in my mother’s garden


Health Dashboard


Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0


Fitness

Low Intensity

Indoor Row, Run


High Intensity

-


Strength & Mobility

Front squats foam rolling and mobility


Veggies & Fruit

Red cabbage

Lettuce

Tomato

Pepper

Mushrooms

Avocado

Courgette

Onion

Garlic

Kale

Spinach

Ginger

Turmeric


Meditation & Mindfulness

Before bed – Guided meditation

Day 28 - 365 Day Journal


Reflections


PTSD Symptom

The PTSD symptom got triggered this afternoon. It’s very mild but still overwhelming. I feel very upset with it continuing to plague me.


Sunday Night

Things that were awesome today:

I had an amazing walk with my good friend Michaela up on the Ridgeway from Barbury Castle. It started with blue sky and sunshine and ended in an April snow flurry!


I was stoked with my row today… although I programmed it wrong so had figure out how to complete it. I also went off-piste, but don’t tell coach!, and had a go at this month’s Cross Team Challenge, an online indoor rowing competition. I was pleased with my effort, especially after completing an intense programmed row before-hand.


Monday Morning

Things that I am grateful for:

I am grateful for not turning to alcohol whilst the PTSD symptom continues to hound me


Health Dashboard


Caffeine, Alcohol & Alcohol Free Beverages

0


Fitness

Low Intensity

Run


High Intensity

Indoor Row


Strength & Mobility

-


Veggies & Fruit

Courgette

Onion

Garlic

Parsnips

Carrots

Broccoli

Green beans

Sweet potato

Banana

Strawberries


Meditation & Mindfulness

Before bed – 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



17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All