1. You are waking up at 3:00 am after you drank the night before – feeling bad (headache, guilt feelings, dry mouth, worried).
REASON: Alcohol increases stimulants in your brain which cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, and the stimulants cause you to worry and feel anxious.
2. Sometimes you can’t remember all the details when you drank last night and you worry you said or did something you normally wouldn’t say or do.
REASON: Drinking too much causes your brain to slow down and can interfere with the areas of your brain that control memory.
3. You have been drinking more lately because you are anxious about a life situation (covid, work changes, relationship problems, sick loved ones, divorce or break-up).
REASON: Alcohol actually increases anxiety and stress in the long-run. While alcohol initially releases dopamine and serotonin (feel-good chemicals), our brains recognize alcohol as a poison and produce dynorphin and cortisol which cause negative emotions and anxiety.
4. Many days you can’t wait until wine-o-clock when you can drink because it feels so relieving!
REASON: When you drink too much, your brain creates neural connections that cause you to crave the positive effects of alcohol. This connection becomes unconsciously powerful. You will find yourself in a cycle of drinking to relieve the craving.
5. You promise yourself you will cut down on drinking which you can do for a while, but then you go back to your old habits. You think this is a willpower problem.
REASON: The neuron connections that form when you drink too much cause a deep subconscious emotional reaction, your desire for alcohol, and willpower no longer works. The body is more powerful than the mind at this point.
6. You obsess about drinking – planning when you will drink, what you will drink, how much you will drink and where you will drink.
REASON: Craving alcohol in your body results in obsessive thinking about the alcohol that your body is telling you – you must have!
7. You hide your drinking – there are red wine bottles in the closet or in drawers. Liquor bottles are hidden in the cabinets.
REASON: Our loved ones notice our personality change when drinking much more than we realize it ourselves. Our spouse, friends, kids all nag us it to quit drinking – so we end up hiding our alcohol so that they will leave us alone.