Why Is It So Hard To Quit Drinking?
Ironically, the reason it’s so hard to quit drinking is because alcohol makes us feel so good! It produces a lot of the chemistry our brain’s associates with pleasure, neurotransmitters like dopamine. When we drink regularly, our brain gets used to elevated dopamine levels. But, when the alcohol gets metabolized and dopamine levels decrease, we start to feel like we’re missing something. This is a classic example of too much of a good thing becoming harmful rather than pleasurable. Over time, alcohol actually diminishes our ability to produce the pleasure we drink it for in the first place.
When dopamine levels drop far enough, the brain starts sending signals to produce more. Those signals manifest as anxiety and thoughts about alcohol. For example, let’s say we had too much to drink last night, in the morning we wake up feeling hungover and we resolve not to drink that day. But, as the day wears on and dopamine levels decrease, we start to have unwanted thoughts like “how long until my shift ends?” Or, “do I have enough alcohol at home? Or, “maybe I’ll have just one tonight!” Most of us can relate to these sneaky thoughts. They’re simply our brain’s way of alerting us to low dopamine levels. But, they occur autonomically and they undermine our desire to not drink.
It’s important to understand this mechanism in order to fix it. Without that understanding, “treatment” could look like anything but unfortunately, the outcomes would be disappointing. Any effective treatment needs to restore the down-regulated dopamine response. That’s what Go Sober does.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain
When we occasionally drink alcohol in moderation, the experience is generally relaxing and enjoyable. The changes that happen in the brain are temporary.
However, when we begin to drink alcohol on a consistent basis, especially in larger quantities, our brain chemistry begins to change, making it more challenging to manage our pattern of drinking.
A Vicious, Self-Perpetuating Cycle
The first noticeable difference is that we need more alcohol to achieve the same effect. As we continue to increase the amount and frequency of drinking, the alcohol begins changing the way that certain parts of our brain function, which then impacts how we feel. As we drink more and more alcohol to achieve that same effect, our brain chemistry is altered more and more.
Ultimately, it becomes harder and harder for our brain to function as it originally did before the excessive consumption altered it. We will actually feel as if we need alcohol to feel normal. To feel happy. To have fun.
While the specific thoughts can vary from person to person, the longer that we go without drinking, the more our brain craves alcohol to feel normal. The experience is similar to being hungry when we haven’t eaten. And just like being hungry, the longer we wait, the more intense the hunger pains. It’s almost impossible to ignore. But there is a way to break this cycle and stop drinking for good.
Our Unique Alcohol Treatment Program Can Help
The good news is that alcohol’s damaging effects on the brain can be undone. Go Sober’s unique outpatient program is designed to undo the damaging effects of alcohol on your brain and to help you change your life. We achieve amazing results with a comprehensive, systematic approach that works.
Our program focuses on both the medical and lifestyle components of alcoholism and we personalize each plan to the needs of the individual. As much as possible, we design our program to work with your life and your schedule. Together, we craft a plan that helps you achieve the alcohol-free lifestyle you want. In very little time, you can go from constantly “thinking about drinking” to simply enjoying your life and having fun again.
Ready to Reset Your Life and Have More Fun?
Go Sober is here to help you enjoy life free of alcohol. Go Sober integrates a medical protocol, behavior and lifestyle modification, and transitional support into one complete, out-patient alcohol treatment program. If you’re ready, you can start today!