UK Researchers Say It’s Pre-Bar Warm Up Drinking That Gets Us in Trouble

People who drink more alcohol get drunker. And the drunker people get – the more problems they tend to experience.

That’s what Liverpool University researchers found anyway, after studying a group of young people in Northwest England, and evaluating what factors seemed to influence problematic behaviors.
 
Groundbreaking social science research…
 
OK, actually, although their root conclusions are pretty banal, the study was important in that it helped to reveal the influence on binge drinking of an often overlooked phenomenon – the warm up.
 

Warming Up

Warming up (the act of drinking at someone’s home prior to hitting the clubs – often to save money) tends to get people into trouble.

The researchers found that people who warmed up prior to a night on the town were 250% more likely to have been in a drunken fight in the last year and 400% more likely to consume more than 20 units of alcohol on a regular evening out.
 
Warmer uppers were also more likely to experience sexual assault, pass out and lose the ability to walk through extreme drunkenness.
 
Research now shows that drinking before going out drinking is not necessarily a good idea! The researchers say that when governments look at curbing alcohol related problems, they may want to target "pre-drinking" behavior, as an effective way to reduce the societal harms of binge drinking.
 
And if YOU are going out this weekend, and aren’t looking to get into a fight or get "legless" – skip the warm-up and (feels very odd to be writing this) head straight to the bar.
 
Read the study in the January 2008 edition of the journal Addiction

 

People who drink more alcohol get drunker. And the drunker people get – the more problems they tend to experience.

That’s what Liverpool University researchers found anyway, after studying a group of young people in Northwest England, and evaluating what factors seemed to influence problematic behaviors.
 
Groundbreaking social science research…
 
OK, actually, although their root conclusions are pretty banal, the study was important in that it helped to reveal the influence on binge drinking of an often overlooked phenomenon – the warm up.
 

Warming Up

Warming up (the act of drinking at someone’s home prior to hitting the clubs – often to save money) tends to get people into trouble.

The researchers found that people who warmed up prior to a night on the town were 250% more likely to have been in a drunken fight in the last year and 400% more likely to consume more than 20 units of alcohol on a regular evening out.
 
Warmer uppers were also more likely to experience sexual assault, pass out and lose the ability to walk through extreme drunkenness.
 
Research now shows that drinking before going out drinking is not necessarily a good idea! The researchers say that when governments look at curbing alcohol related problems, they may want to target "pre-drinking" behavior, as an effective way to reduce the societal harms of binge drinking.
 
And if YOU are going out this weekend, and aren’t looking to get into a fight or get "legless" – skip the warm-up and (feels very odd to be writing this) head straight to the bar.
 
Read the study in the January 2008 edition of the journal Addiction

 

No Hangovers for 1 in 4

Puffy, sweaty, nauseous, headachey, anxious, tired, irritable, incredibly dumb…
 

Hangovers. Man oh man.

It’s an odd way to live – to suffer through self inflicted illness each day for poured pleasure each night.

Near-death experience survivors talk of a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, and although the act of putting down a bottle is hardly so dramatic, I think I sort of understand what they’re going on about. Waking up on a Sunday morning without it being Sunday afternoon is a beautiful thing, and when I remember to think about it – I’m grateful.

Anyway, you’d think that hangovers would be a deterrent to excessive drinking (and for most people they are) but for those of us predestined to be alcoholics, hangovers don’t deter didly. I drank every night – knowing full well what I had coming, and I, it seems, was not alone.

 

No Hangovers for 1 in 4

Some people don’t get hangovers. About 23% of people report feeling almost no ill effects even after nights of hard and heavy binge drinking. Thousands of people have been surveyed, from college students to rural folk, and scientists have even mixed drinks in labs just to observe the after effects of intoxication.

The results are pretty clear and pretty consistent – about a quarter of us just don’t pay a price.

You would think that people who could drink without experiencing a hangover would be more likely to overindulge. They get all of the fun with none of the pain, but it turns out that it’s the opposite, and people who report consistent and heavy hangovers are more likely to be problem drinkers.

Huh?

Researchers speculate that those people who experience tough hangovers may be more prone to "the hair of the dog" solution and a few drinks the day after as a hangover remedy, and as an accelerated path into alcoholism. Researchers also admit that just as they aren’t sure why certain people suffer through hangovers and others don’t, they aren’t entirely sure just what influence hangovers exert on the likelihood of developing an alcohol abuse problem.

More study is needed, they say. I think I’ll pass.

Puffy, sweaty, nauseous, headachey, anxious, tired, irritable, incredibly dumb…
 

Hangovers. Man oh man.

It’s an odd way to live – to suffer through self inflicted illness each day for poured pleasure each night.

Near-death experience survivors talk of a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, and although the act of putting down a bottle is hardly so dramatic, I think I sort of understand what they’re going on about. Waking up on a Sunday morning without it being Sunday afternoon is a beautiful thing, and when I remember to think about it – I’m grateful.

Anyway, you’d think that hangovers would be a deterrent to excessive drinking (and for most people they are) but for those of us predestined to be alcoholics, hangovers don’t deter didly. I drank every night – knowing full well what I had coming, and I, it seems, was not alone.

 

No Hangovers for 1 in 4

Some people don’t get hangovers. About 23% of people report feeling almost no ill effects even after nights of hard and heavy binge drinking. Thousands of people have been surveyed, from college students to rural folk, and scientists have even mixed drinks in labs just to observe the after effects of intoxication.

The results are pretty clear and pretty consistent – about a quarter of us just don’t pay a price.

You would think that people who could drink without experiencing a hangover would be more likely to overindulge. They get all of the fun with none of the pain, but it turns out that it’s the opposite, and people who report consistent and heavy hangovers are more likely to be problem drinkers.

Huh?

Researchers speculate that those people who experience tough hangovers may be more prone to "the hair of the dog" solution and a few drinks the day after as a hangover remedy, and as an accelerated path into alcoholism. Researchers also admit that just as they aren’t sure why certain people suffer through hangovers and others don’t, they aren’t entirely sure just what influence hangovers exert on the likelihood of developing an alcohol abuse problem.

More study is needed, they say. I think I’ll pass.

What a Super Bowl! How Much Tragedy?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

Forget vodka, whiskey or rum…beer is the most dangerous drink in America today.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

Confirmation Bias – Understanding Addicted Thinking – or – Why They Don’t Stop

Why can’t they see what their drinking or drugging is doing to them, and to us?

For family, few things frustrate like the seeming inability of the addict or alcoholic to recognize the extent of their self destructive behaviors. What seems so obvious to us seems not to register with them, and if losing a job, career, family or health won’t convince a using addict to change their ways – what possibly can?

Addiction changes the mind, it is complex and pervasive, and no single phenomenon fully explains the influence it exerts over thoughts and behaviors; but understanding confirmation bias takes us a step closer to understanding the realities of addicted thinking.

Confirmation Bias and the Addictd Mind

Confirmation bias refers to a cognitive process in which we selectively and unconsciously assign more weight to stimuli, information or events that seem to confirm our preconceptions or world-view. We all unconsciously use confirmation bias; it is simply a psychological streamlining for informational processing.

When we read a political editorial that matches our world-view, it resonates more profoundly and influentially than when we read an editorial that opposes our notion of the world – even if both are factually accurate. We are the choir – and we like to be preached to!

Addicts unconsciously use conformational bias as a way to preserve activities (drinking or drugging) that are important to them. It is conformational bias that allows addicts to disregard or minimize negative information that might force them to question their behaviors, and over-emphasize positive information that convinces them to continue their use behaviors.

An addict or alcoholic might process information on a night’s events such as this:

  • Pros: HAD A GREAT TIME LAUGHING WITH BUDDIES GOT A PHONE NUMBER FROM THAT CUTE/HANDSOME BARTENDER
  • Cons: Vomited in the bar bathroom Was asked to leave Performed badly at work the next day, and was noticed for being hung-over

Alcoholic thinking=A good night’s fun.

Most of us would call such an evening a lesson against excessive drinking, but an alcoholic will assign much more weight to the positive parts of the evening, and gloss over any negative aspects that don’t align with alcoholic thinking.

Alcoholics maintain denial through unconscious conformation bias internalization; thinking that keeps them sure that although drinking may cause a few minor headaches…on the whole it brings more happiness than pain. Addicts are not purposefully obtuse when they fail to recognize how much their use hurts them, it’s a psychological process, and one an addiction hijacked brain makes full use of in defense of its consumptions.

Eventually, if it gets bad enough, most alcoholics and addicts will concede that they have a problem – but it can take a long while and some pretty overwhelming (and often tragic) evidence. Understanding why addicts and alcoholics continue to drink or drug even as things get bad helps family and friends to enact better and more successful interventions – Helps them to realize that just letting an addict see the problems abuse causes won’t necessarily be enough to induce change.

Rock bottom can motivate, but rock bottom is sad; and there is no need for it. Although an addict may not come to an internal conclusion of a need for change, family and friends can help them along, and can help to change their thinking. Interventions work, and they can get some pretty reluctant addicts into treatment. You can wait for an addict to see it on their own, but with conformational bias…it may take a long, long time.

Why can’t they see what their drinking or drugging is doing to them, and to us?

For family, few things frustrate like the seeming inability of the addict or alcoholic to recognize the extent of their self destructive behaviors. What seems so obvious to us seems not to register with them, and if losing a job, career, family or health won’t convince a using addict to change their ways – what possibly can?

Addiction changes the mind, it is complex and pervasive, and no single phenomenon fully explains the influence it exerts over thoughts and behaviors; but understanding confirmation bias takes us a step closer to understanding the realities of addicted thinking.

Confirmation Bias and the Addictd Mind

Confirmation bias refers to a cognitive process in which we selectively and unconsciously assign more weight to stimuli, information or events that seem to confirm our preconceptions or world-view. We all unconsciously use confirmation bias; it is simply a psychological streamlining for informational processing.

When we read a political editorial that matches our world-view, it resonates more profoundly and influentially than when we read an editorial that opposes our notion of the world – even if both are factually accurate. We are the choir – and we like to be preached to!

Addicts unconsciously use conformational bias as a way to preserve activities (drinking or drugging) that are important to them. It is conformational bias that allows addicts to disregard or minimize negative information that might force them to question their behaviors, and over-emphasize positive information that convinces them to continue their use behaviors.

An addict or alcoholic might process information on a night’s events such as this:

  • Pros: HAD A GREAT TIME LAUGHING WITH BUDDIES GOT A PHONE NUMBER FROM THAT CUTE/HANDSOME BARTENDER
  • Cons: Vomited in the bar bathroom Was asked to leave Performed badly at work the next day, and was noticed for being hung-over

Alcoholic thinking=A good night’s fun.

Most of us would call such an evening a lesson against excessive drinking, but an alcoholic will assign much more weight to the positive parts of the evening, and gloss over any negative aspects that don’t align with alcoholic thinking.

Alcoholics maintain denial through unconscious conformation bias internalization; thinking that keeps them sure that although drinking may cause a few minor headaches…on the whole it brings more happiness than pain. Addicts are not purposefully obtuse when they fail to recognize how much their use hurts them, it’s a psychological process, and one an addiction hijacked brain makes full use of in defense of its consumptions.

Eventually, if it gets bad enough, most alcoholics and addicts will concede that they have a problem – but it can take a long while and some pretty overwhelming (and often tragic) evidence. Understanding why addicts and alcoholics continue to drink or drug even as things get bad helps family and friends to enact better and more successful interventions – Helps them to realize that just letting an addict see the problems abuse causes won’t necessarily be enough to induce change.

Rock bottom can motivate, but rock bottom is sad; and there is no need for it. Although an addict may not come to an internal conclusion of a need for change, family and friends can help them along, and can help to change their thinking. Interventions work, and they can get some pretty reluctant addicts into treatment. You can wait for an addict to see it on their own, but with conformational bias…it may take a long, long time.

Relapse – Can It Wait 10 Minutes? What to Do When You Really Want That Drink.

Anyone who quits drinking or drugging, no matter who they are or how determined they are, comes to a point in recovery when the cravings to use or drink just seem overwhelming. And a lot of people (when they hit this point) do take a drink, or ten or 50 – For a lot of people, this is the end.

The urge to drink or use drugs can consume us, and when it gets bad, we can think of little else.

It feels like these urges will never end. We doubt we’ll have the strength to fight them for long, and since we feel like we’ll never succeed in the end, we can think of nothing else but using and we feel a craving so strong it’s almost physical – a lot of us just give in to what feels inevitable anyway.

One of the hardest things about overcoming an addiction is dealing with the weight of a lifetime of sobriety.

Forever feels like a long time, and when things are hard, forever feels way too long. And it is for this reason, that there is real truth and strength in the AA mantra of one day at a time. Forget about staying sober for life, juts worry about today. Stay sober for today, and that’s good enough – and the great thing is, add enough of those "today’s" together, and it just gets easier after a while. When relapse threatens, when you’re having a really tough time, and when you’re two seconds away from taking that drink…even staying sober for the rest of the day can seem an impossible goal.

Break it down!

You don’t need to worry about staying sober for the rest of the say – just think about staying sober for the next 10 minutes! Anyone can delay a drink for five minutes.

Distract yourself, make yourself a sandwich, walk around the block once, do ANYTHING BUT DRINK.

Urges, even the strongest of urges, are transitory things, and they will pass. There may be another one coming down the pipes, but deal with it when it comes, just as you dealt with the last.

If you can wait 10 minutes, you will find that more often than not, the urge subsides, and things seem a little less crazy. Things get easier in time, and we all go through a rough patch every now and again. Don’t worry about tomorrow; think only of the here and now.

It seems too easy, but it works!

Anyone who quits drinking or drugging, no matter who they are or how determined they are, comes to a point in recovery when the cravings to use or drink just seem overwhelming. And a lot of people (when they hit this point) do take a drink, or ten or 50 – For a lot of people, this is the end.

The urge to drink or use drugs can consume us, and when it gets bad, we can think of little else.

It feels like these urges will never end. We doubt we’ll have the strength to fight them for long, and since we feel like we’ll never succeed in the end, we can think of nothing else but using and we feel a craving so strong it’s almost physical – a lot of us just give in to what feels inevitable anyway.

One of the hardest things about overcoming an addiction is dealing with the weight of a lifetime of sobriety.

Forever feels like a long time, and when things are hard, forever feels way too long. And it is for this reason, that there is real truth and strength in the AA mantra of one day at a time. Forget about staying sober for life, juts worry about today. Stay sober for today, and that’s good enough – and the great thing is, add enough of those "today’s" together, and it just gets easier after a while. When relapse threatens, when you’re having a really tough time, and when you’re two seconds away from taking that drink…even staying sober for the rest of the day can seem an impossible goal.

Break it down!

You don’t need to worry about staying sober for the rest of the say – just think about staying sober for the next 10 minutes! Anyone can delay a drink for five minutes.

Distract yourself, make yourself a sandwich, walk around the block once, do ANYTHING BUT DRINK.

Urges, even the strongest of urges, are transitory things, and they will pass. There may be another one coming down the pipes, but deal with it when it comes, just as you dealt with the last.

If you can wait 10 minutes, you will find that more often than not, the urge subsides, and things seem a little less crazy. Things get easier in time, and we all go through a rough patch every now and again. Don’t worry about tomorrow; think only of the here and now.

It seems too easy, but it works!

Remember Those Good Old Bad Times – and Don’t Relapse.

Remembering the good times…

We all do it, when we look back, we always seem to remember the good times; and those tough times (although remembered) don’t seem as vivid as those happy memories and good experiences. Parents remember those first few toddling steps with greater intensity than those sleepless nights, and we remember the friends and excitement of high school more than we do the social insecurity. It’s human nature, and for the most part, it’s a good thing. But for recovering addicts or alcoholics, this kind of nostalgic thinking gets us into trouble.

Relapse can happen for any number of reasons, but at the root of a lot of slips are a combination of overconfidence ("I’ve got this thing beaten now…a few drinks won’t hurt me anymore") and reminiscent thinking. Remembering all of the good times we had while drinking, all of the fun and laughs, and minimizing the negatives. Truly a dangerous mental combination for anyone in recovery!

If you quit drinking or drugging, you did it for a reason, probably a pretty good one. People don’t, as a rule, quit drinking or drugging until the negatives start to outweigh the positives, and outweigh them by a lot.

And while it’s true that getting drunk or high with friends, hitting the club or a sharing a bottle of good wine with dinner were sometimes very enjoyable, for those of us with substance abuse problems, there were terrors lurking beneath the surface, and we do well to remember these. Most of us don’t quit until we feel the pains of our addiction. We all have our personal reasons for making a change and change isn’t easy, it usually takes some pretty strong motivation to overcome our using inertia.

What made you stop? Now write it down.

Seriously, if you are in recovery, write down what made you decide you needed to stop. Make a list of the harms that your drinking or drugging was causing, the things that finally forced you to concede of a need for abstinence. And whenever the past starts calling, whenever those good times start to outweigh the pains in your mind’s eye, take a look at your list – and remember.

Here’s my list:

1…People were obviously losing respect for me, to my face, and that was very painful – especially painful because I knew that they were right to think less of me.

2…I was 60 pounds overweight, looked 10 years older than I was and every day I endured a terrible hangover. I was on pace for an early grave.

3…I was useless for my family; too hung-over in the day to play with my kids, to busy getting drunk at night to help out.

4…My business was suffering. I didn’t have the energy to make it better.

5…My kids were starting to notice what their dad was.

And there’s more of course, but that’s enough for me. I’ve got it written down, and whenever I start thinking of the past through rose colored glasses, I just have a quick read of my list (I’ve got it in my wallet!) and I remember. It’s uplifting too! Remembering the truth about how bad things were makes me truly grateful for how things are now – and it keeps me very motivated to never go back to what I was, and what I did.

Don’t fall into the trap. Make a list (and check it twice!) – You are better off now than you were when you were drinking or drugging. Don’t get fooled – stay sober, and stay happy.

Remembering the good times…

We all do it, when we look back, we always seem to remember the good times; and those tough times (although remembered) don’t seem as vivid as those happy memories and good experiences. Parents remember those first few toddling steps with greater intensity than those sleepless nights, and we remember the friends and excitement of high school more than we do the social insecurity. It’s human nature, and for the most part, it’s a good thing. But for recovering addicts or alcoholics, this kind of nostalgic thinking gets us into trouble.

Relapse can happen for any number of reasons, but at the root of a lot of slips are a combination of overconfidence ("I’ve got this thing beaten now…a few drinks won’t hurt me anymore") and reminiscent thinking. Remembering all of the good times we had while drinking, all of the fun and laughs, and minimizing the negatives. Truly a dangerous mental combination for anyone in recovery!

If you quit drinking or drugging, you did it for a reason, probably a pretty good one. People don’t, as a rule, quit drinking or drugging until the negatives start to outweigh the positives, and outweigh them by a lot.

And while it’s true that getting drunk or high with friends, hitting the club or a sharing a bottle of good wine with dinner were sometimes very enjoyable, for those of us with substance abuse problems, there were terrors lurking beneath the surface, and we do well to remember these. Most of us don’t quit until we feel the pains of our addiction. We all have our personal reasons for making a change and change isn’t easy, it usually takes some pretty strong motivation to overcome our using inertia.

What made you stop? Now write it down.

Seriously, if you are in recovery, write down what made you decide you needed to stop. Make a list of the harms that your drinking or drugging was causing, the things that finally forced you to concede of a need for abstinence. And whenever the past starts calling, whenever those good times start to outweigh the pains in your mind’s eye, take a look at your list – and remember.

Here’s my list:

1…People were obviously losing respect for me, to my face, and that was very painful – especially painful because I knew that they were right to think less of me.

2…I was 60 pounds overweight, looked 10 years older than I was and every day I endured a terrible hangover. I was on pace for an early grave.

3…I was useless for my family; too hung-over in the day to play with my kids, to busy getting drunk at night to help out.

4…My business was suffering. I didn’t have the energy to make it better.

5…My kids were starting to notice what their dad was.

And there’s more of course, but that’s enough for me. I’ve got it written down, and whenever I start thinking of the past through rose colored glasses, I just have a quick read of my list (I’ve got it in my wallet!) and I remember. It’s uplifting too! Remembering the truth about how bad things were makes me truly grateful for how things are now – and it keeps me very motivated to never go back to what I was, and what I did.

Don’t fall into the trap. Make a list (and check it twice!) – You are better off now than you were when you were drinking or drugging. Don’t get fooled – stay sober, and stay happy.