Ask me anything: Why am I able to drink more than I used to?

Controlling drinking

Many years ago I had a night away with a friend where, over the course of the evening, we polished off two bottles of wine.

We were sharing our experiences of being newly separated single mothers who were struggling to make ends meet and, while it might sound a bit glum, we also had a lot of laughs.

We drank one bottle of wine each however our reactions to it were quite different. I ended up throwing up in the toilet while she seemed barely tipsy.

At the time I was embarrassed that I was such a lightweight drinker and couldn’t keep up with her.

My tolerance levels increased

Fast forward from that night and, over the years, my tolerance levels increased until drinking a bottle of wine didn’t end up with me being sick.

In fact, I was the one who barely seemed tipsy after a bottle.

My body had become so used to that amount of alcohol that I rarely drank less than a bottle of wine if I was drinking.

While I may have become used to the increased quantity of alcohol, my body was definitely feeling the effects of drinking too much:

  • Waking during the night unable to get back to sleep
  • Nausea and headache the next day
  • Lack of energy
  • Low mood

So how do we develop tolerance?  

Tolerance is simply our brain adapting to the effects of alcohol so that over time we need more of it to achieve the same effect.

Often we are congratulated for being ‘piss fit’ or being able to handle our drink but the ability to consume more than we used to is actually a sign that we’re travelling down a dangerous road.

For many of us we get to a point down that road that we realise the amount we are drinking is impacting our health and happiness.

We decide to do a u-turn and return to that sweet spot of drinking – back to being a ‘normal’ drinker.

It’s only then, usually when we try to moderate our drinking, that we realise how difficult it is to cut back.

How can alcohol coaching help?

As an alcohol coach I work with people who feel stuck – they’re drinking more than they want to, they’re worried about what it’s doing to them and they are blaming themselves because they can’t go back to the way they used to drink.

If this is where you are you are probably realising that simple habit changes don’t work, particularly long term.

So what does work? Understanding the thoughts and beliefs you have around alcohol and working on your mindset is the key to getting unstuck.

The brain is an amazing thing – while it makes us build up tolerance to alcohol in the first place, it is also the thing that can give us freedom and escape.

In last week’s blog I mentioned one of my favourite Elizabeth Gilbert quotes:

“I don’t know what my life is supposed to be ….. but it’s NOT THIS”.

If you’re feeling that way about drinking feel free to reach out for a free 30-minute discussion call to chat about the various programs and resources I provide.

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