Why do so many smart, capable women drink more than they want to?

thoughtful mature woman sitting on couch with crossed legs and drinking hot beverage

Are you a perfectionist who drinks too much? If so, there may be a link.

A recent study has shown a link between perfectionists and an increased susceptibility to drinking too much.

It struck a chord with me because, as an alcohol coach, many of the women I work with fit this pattern.

They are achieving in all areas of their lives yet this one thing – alcohol – is something they’re finding difficult to wrangle.

It was definitely my story, which is why I relate so much to my clients’ struggles with trying to moderate.

“Why can I manage everything else in my life, yet this is so difficult?”

Why do women use alcohol in this way?

The more I’ve learnt about how alcohol works in our brains and bodies, the more this makes sense.

If you’re someone who has high expectations for yourself and has a lot going on in your life, it can be difficult to switch off and give yourself time out from it all.

Alcohol can seem like a good way to help you switch off:

Yes, it temporarily depresses our central nervous system allowing us to numb things out, just for a while.

However, to counteract the depressant element of alcohol, our brain releases stimulants and stress hormones, which ultimately make us feel more anxious and restless.

It’s why we can feel relaxed after a glass or two of our favourite tipple, but then wake up at 3am worrying and unable to get back to sleep.

It’s also why we drink more than just one or two glasses – we want to sustain that feeling of numbing out.

I get it. As someone who has a never-ending to-do list and who is good at getting sh*t done, it can be hard to switch off and just let it go, even if only for a few hours.

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, the knowledge that having a drink only temporarily relieves the stress, and in fact adds more stress to your life, will help shift your belief that alcohol is a stress reliever.

If you realise that worrying about how much you’re drinking is actually adding to your stress levels, it can add some perspective.

Secondly, drinking doesn’t solve any of the issues causing your stress.

Those problems are still there, you’re just numbing them for a while.

It’s the equivalent of putting a band aid on a festering sore (sorry for the visual!) – you can ignore it for a little while but it’s only going to get worse.

Being honest about why you drink and whether it’s really working for you is the first step.

Then working on your mindset and having strategies to deal with stress are the keys to making a positive change in how you use alcohol.

Need support?

If you want support to gain back control of your drinking, rather than have it control you, you can find out more about my coaching services by replying to this email or booking in a free discussion call.

If you want to know more about alcohol coaching and how it can help you control your drinking, click here to read more.

Note: The study linking perfectionism with alcohol use disorder was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Leave a Reply