• Jen Clements

To change your drinking, you need to know WHY you drink.

Updated: May 21

If you want to quit drinking or change your relationship with alcohol, it’s critical to understand the reasons why you drink in the first place. What is alcohol actually doing for you? What are the root causes that drive you to drink?

For those drinkers not yet addicted to alcohol, but who nonetheless worry they’re drinking too much, the reasons could include anything from drinking to unwind after work, to connect with loved ones, to soften difficult feelings, to relieve anxiety, to have fun, to give confidence in social situations, to be more adventurous in the bedroom… The list goes on and could also include things they’d rather not admit or don’t like to think about, like drinking to emotionally escape from their unhappy marriage, or from the job they hate but feel stuck in, or from the incessant nature of motherhood, or from the trauma they haven’t yet healed from.

In the context of addicted drinkers, addiction expert Dr. Gabor Maté asserts that in order to truly heal from any form of addiction, rather than asking the addict ‘why the addiction?’, we should be asking ‘why the pain?’. There is always some form of pain and root cause (or causes) that need to be addressed.

As I learnt in AA, alcohol was not my problem, it was my solution to my particular root causes, which I wrote more about here.

Once you identify and bring the things that are driving you to drink into your awareness, you can systematically work on addressing these reasons in ways that don’t involve drinking. You can actively work on addressing the root causes, so you no longer feel compelled to drink over them.

This work can be hard. No one is excited about finding new and healthier ways to unwind, socialise, have fun, build genuine confidence and so on. No one is thrilled about taking away their quick fix and learning to manage their internal emotional landscape in slower but more effective ways. And it can really suck to face the reality that your marriage is over, or you need to quit your job, or do more therapy.

But if you want your relationship with alcohol to change, you have to change. As the saying goes, if nothing changes, nothing changes. And that includes you and your drinking habits.

This is the roadblock that I believe holds many people back from reaching their alcohol-related goals. They think they can quit or cut back and change nothing else in their lives. Like simply making the decision to stop drinking or to drink less is enough. It’s not. There are years, if not decades-worth, of ingrained thinking and behaviour to shift. Is it daunting? Hell yes. Hard? Sometimes, fist-bitingly so. Worth it? A thousand times YES.

Addressing my root causes was one of the most important parts of my sober journey. It wasn’t until I had the courage to really deal with what had been driving me to drink, that long-lasting transformation began to happen.

Once I learned healthier coping mechanisms, I was able to see how truly ineffective alcohol was as a solution. It’s a crappy quick-fix that comes with a huge price tag, and it’s often the drinking itself that creates more and more reasons for you to drink.

Our 8-week course is designed to hand hold you through this root cause work and give you all the tools, strategies, support, and accountability you need to make sustainable, lasting changes.

You might feel like it’s impossible now, but as Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

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