Debunking Alcohol Myths
Early in my sobriety through all of my reading and research, I quickly learned that a lot of the reasons I had been stuck in my destructive drinking cycle for so long were based on lies I had been brainwashed to believe.
I remember this realisation feeling like someone had finally removed the wool that had been covering my eyes. I had woken up to the reality that I’d fallen for a bunch of myths about alcohol that were simply untrue.
The power that came from this knowledge was incredible. I found so much strength and motivation in knowing the truth about alcohol for the first time. And now I want to debunk just some of these myths to hopefully help free you from the alcohol trap also.
Myth # 1 – Alcohol gives me an excited ‘buzz’
The reality is actually the opposite. Yes drinking increases activity in the dopamine neurons which makes us feel great temporarily, but because Alcohol is a depressant, we get brought back down faster and harder. It’s often why we keep drinking more and more – we are chasing the initial, short-lived high.
It’s not alcohol that makes you feel excited when you’re socialising or at an event, it’s human connection. Think about when you first arrive at an event, and everyone is connecting and saying hello. The energy in the room is electric even though the drinks haven’t even kicked in. Alcohol unfairly gets the credit for most of the fun at social occasions but the vibe in social situations is due to the very real human experience of enjoying connection with each other, not the alcohol.
I was at a school parents event last night with a large (approx 100 people) group of wonderful people and I felt the excited buzz myself…and I of course was SOBER! It was about 30 minutes after arriving at the event. The mild anxiety I had felt in the lead up to arriving had melted away and I had settled into the conversations I was having with fabulous, funny, intelligent people. I felt high and it had nothing to do with the non-alc wine that was in my glass.
Myth # 2 – Alcohol helps me to connect with people on a deeper level
Sorry folks, this is absolutely rubbish. Alcohol simply lowers our inhibitions and reduces activity in the part of our brain that is responsible for making sound judgements about other people. In fact our ability to understand somebody else’s mental perspective and their motivations for acting in a certain way becomes unreliable when we are under the influence of alcohol, plus alcohol impedes our ability to accurately interpret emotional expressions in faces – so we might feel like someone else is deeply engaged, when they are not.
I have witnessed this first hand many many times in my 4+ years of sobriety. Someone who has had one too many drinks and finds themselves in a deep conversation with someone who at the time feels like their soulmate. The next day they realised they wasted most of the night talking ‘at’ one person and not connecting with a wider range of people.
If you feel like you need alcohol to connect with people or in groups of people, it’s likely that there is either some room for improvement when it comes to your communication and connection with those loved ones, or perhaps you’re not comfortable in your own skin? It might be a great opportunity to see this as a sign to start building a deep connection with yourself first. When you are confident and content in your own sober skin, it’s so much easier to build deep, REAL connections with others.
Myth # 3 – Alcohol helps me to unwind
Using alcohol to relax and destress is counterproductive. It slows down the processing in your brain and central nervous system which combined with the dopamine hit can initially make you feel less inhibited or relaxed, but these effects wear off quickly as stress hormones flood your body, leaving you feeling even more stressed and anxious.
This is often why we over-drink when we are in a stressed or anxious state. We keep trying to chase that moment of relief which is followed by a longer period of feeling worse off.
Myth # 4 – Alcohol makes me more fun and happy-go-lucky
A huge myth that so many believe about alcohol is that alcohol helps you to be less serious, less uptight and more relaxed and happy-go-lucky. However, this is actually not what is happening at all.
Instead, when you drink the ability for your brain to function correctly is being hindered. Alcohol suppresses activity in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for rational thought, planning, assessment, anger suppression – all the things that go out the window after the fifth glass of wine. The temporal lobe is responsible for understanding language, processing emotions, memory acquisition, face and object recognition, perception and processing auditory information.
So yes you might feel less serious and more fun, but only because your brain is being impaired which causes you to lack perspective and boundaries.
In summary, debunking these myths (plus the plethora of other myths we have been brainwashed to believe) will support you with the process of freeing yourself from the alcohol trap. Don’t let the alcohol industry’s messaging and societal pressures dictate your life – choose to live on your own terms.
If you need support with this process, why not join our Signature Sobriety Course which holds you through the process of changing your relationship with alcohol, long-term.